Hispanic Enrollment in NC Public Schools, 1989-2014

Monday, September 15th, through Wednesday, October 15th, marks National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Hispanic enrollment in North Carolina public schools has steadily increased over the past 25 years. The graph below shows the size of the Hispanic student population from the fall of 1989 to the fall of 2014. In two years, 1989 and 1990, there were fewer than 10,000 Hispanic students enrolled in North Carolina public schools. This number steadily increased to surpass 56,000 by the year 2000. This was a nearly seven-fold increase from Hispanic enrollment in 1989 (7,100).

Hispanic Enrollment in NC Public Schools_1989 to 2014

Since 2000, Hispanic enrollment has grown even larger. The table below highlights public school enrollment changes between 2000 and 2014 in North Carolina for the major racial/ethnic groups. Between 2000 and 2014, Hispanic enrollment increased from just over 56,000 to nearly 229,000, an absolute increase of 307%. Increases in Hispanic enrollment accounted for nearly all (97%) of North Carolina’s school enrollment increase over the past 14 years.

Change in Racial Ethnic Composition of NC Public Schools_2000 to 2014

Hispanic students were 16% of all enrolled students in 2014. The size of North Carolina’s Hispanic child population is projected to continue to grow in coming years, and this will likely play a major role in driving school enrollment in the state.

Of course, school enrollment trends are driven by factors beyond population alone. Racial/ethnic differences in the likelihood to home school children or enroll them in private schools also impact the overall racial/ethnic composition of public schools. In the past, Hispanic families have been more likely to use public schools than home school their children or enroll them in private schools.

About Rebecca Tippett

Rebecca Tippett is Director of Carolina Demography at UNC-Chapel Hill's Carolina Population Center.
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