As we noted in a blog post last week, there have been notable shifts in the racial/ethnic composition of California’s public school students over the past two decades. In particular, Hispanic/Latino students recently became a majority in California schools.
The census data map below, developed by the Washington Post, shows population by race/ethnicity for every county in the U.S., as well as the percentage change over time, by racial/ethnic group, population density and family type. Click on the map to find data for your community. On kidsdata.org, you can see local school district enrollment data for the metro areas noted in the article, as well as data for all other school districts in California.
Recent Census Bureau estimates of the 2010 census results show that for the first time in the U.S., minorities make up the majority of births. According to related ’09 census data, slightly less than half of children age 3 are non-Hispanic whites, compared to 60% in 1990.
Here in California, the percent of births to Caucasian/White mothers has been dropping steadily. In 1995, 36% of births were to Caucasian/White mothers, and by 2007, that dropped to 27% of births.
A few weeks ago in LA, my colleague, Felicity Ayles, and I held a discussion with ethnic media about children’s data issues (video). In February, I participated in a similar session in Fresno (video). Both events were sponsored by New America Media.
The key question on ethnic journalists’ minds? How are kids of different racial/ethnic groups faring locally?
Unfortunately, our answers often were necessarily incomplete. As diverse as California’s child population is, we actually don’t have tools even to easily measure that diversity at a local level, let alone determine the status of how some groups are doing on wide-ranging measures. That’s because state and federal data sources often don’t report local data at the needed level of specificity.
California’s Department of Finance, for example, breaks out the statewide child population this way: Hispanic/Latino (49.3%), Caucasian/White (30.6%), African American/Black (5.8%), Native American (0.5%), Multiracial (3.7%), then one overall basket for Asian/Pacific Islander (10.2%). The state’s Department of Education is a bit more specific, breaking out Pacific Islander (0.6%) and Filipino students (2.7%) separately from Asian Americans (8.4%) in state and local public school enrollment figures.
But what about the Hmong population in Fresno? Or the Arab-American population in Southern California? Or the important breakdowns within the Hispanic/Latino community? The short answer is that we can’t pinpoint demographic trends locally, or sometimes statewide, for these and other groups.
As Steve Thao of the Hmong Tribune in Fresno points out in the video noted above, “The Asian-American community is very diverse and very splintered – different languages, different history, different cultures – and I think that’s something that kidsdata.org has to address.”
We agree. We crave better racial/ethnic breakdowns – not just for demographic data but for the hundreds of indicators on kidsdata.org that measure the status of child well-being, from prenatal care to poverty to child abuse – all of which are offered by race/ethnicity, but not by very fine breakdowns. Addressing this issue is clearly a multi-year endeavor that will require coordination with state and federal agencies. But we can start. At kidsdata.org, we’ll investigate whether more specific breakdowns are available from our data sources. And if you know of local or statewide efforts to provide better racial/ethnic data for children, please let us know by posting a comment below.
At the very least, we can catalog what’s going on in California to provide more distinct racial/ethnic groupings. From that, we all may learn how we can better measure California’s diversity.
This blog provides timely insights about how children in California are faring, addresses your data queries, and offers information about children's data issues. Any suggestions? E-mail us, or post a comment here. Kidsdata.org is a program of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health, and this blog is authored by Foundation staff.