20 Startling Stats on Minorities in Our Schools

by Staff Writers

Even the briefest scan of education news sources will reveal a plethora of articles concerning minorities in primary, secondary and higher education. Any teachers, administrators, students or parents wanting to know more about the different trends — both positive and negative — that directly affect racial and ethnic minorities in the United States should certainly seek out the exceptionally detailed statistics available through multiple government and educational institutions. By no means comprehensive, the following list looks at some of today’s most prominent issues.

  1. On average, minorities comprise 42% of prekindergarten and secondary schools: Nationally, anyways. The actual numbers fluctuate dramatically from city to city and state to state. Washington, D.C., for example, has an enrollment rate of 95%. Vermont’s sits at around 4%. These figures, courtesy of the National Center for Education Statistics, come from 2004 and may have shifted somewhat in later years.

  2. 75% (or more) of African-American and Latin American students attend high minority enrollment schools: By contrast, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and Alaskan Natives were spread more evenly across primary, elementary and secondary schools in 2005. African-American, Latin American, Native American and Alaskan Native students at high minority enrollment schools are also more likely to enroll in free and reduced-price lunch programs as well. Of all minorities, Asians and Pacific Islanders were less likely to attend high-poverty institutions. Asian and Latin American students ranked highest as minorities speaking a language other than English at home.

  3. Minority enrollment in undergraduate programs is 32%: As of 2004, up from 17% in 1976. After 1980, minority women were more likely to enroll in undergraduate programs than their male peers. The gap is most pronounced in the African-American student community, though this demographic is most likely to pursue postsecondary degrees than Latin Americans. More Latin Americans, Native Americans and Alaskan Natives graduate with associate’s degrees than anyone else. Asians and Pacific Islanders were more likely to strive for first-professional degrees and doctorates. All ethnic groups enjoyed a rise in college and university attendance from 1990 and 2005.

  4. Asians and Pacific Islanders have the highest post-collegiate median income of all minorities: In all demographics, median income increases exponentially with education level. Males of Asian and Pacific Islander descent average $50,000 a year, with $38,000 for females. African-American females average an annual median income of $30,000, and Native Americans and Alaskan Natives earn $26,000. Males of all ethnicities — minority or majority – typically make more than the females.

  5. The number of Latin American students completing high school increased dramatically from 1993-1995 to 2003-2005: Within this 10-year period, Latin Americans increased their high school graduation rate by 9 points, placing them at 66%. Females in this demographic contributed the most to this incline, growing by 11 points to reach 72%. Their male peers went up 4 points to 60%. In spite of this positive news, Latin Americans still trail behind African-Americans when it comes to graduating high school seniors. However, the latter did not experience any significant increase within the specified decade.

  6. African-Americans and Latin Americans are the minorities most likely to pursue degrees in science and engineering: Since 2000, African-Americans and Latin Americans have boasted similar numbers in pursuing undergraduate science and engineering degrees. The former usually sported a slightly higher number, though the latter supplanted it in 2007. That year, 1,954,538 Latin American students and 1,945,218 African-American students were enrolled in such programs. Individuals of unknown or other ethnicity were the next in line, with 1,121,420 students. Asians and Pacific Islanders sat at 965,445 and Native Americans and Alaskan Natives at 158,762.

  7. Most minority 10th graders in low-minority schools feel they receive adequate praise for their hard work: A 2005 study asking 10th graders about their experiences revealed that students of all ethnicities receiving an education at low-minority schools reported satisfaction with teacher praise. Latin Americans reported the highest rate of happiness, at 73.6%. African-Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders thought their hard work adequately recognized at extremely similar rates — 62.8% and 62.9%, respectively. Those in the "Other" category (Native Americans, Alaskan Natives and mixed-race) were the least likely to consider their efforts praised, reporting a satisfaction of 57%.

  8. Latin American, Native American, Alaskan Native and mixed-race 10th graders at low-minority schools were the most likely to feel "put down by [their] teachers": Teachers hailing from low-minority high schools are likelier to insult, isolate or otherwise marginalize Latin American students at a rate of 17.3% and Native America, Alaskan Native and mixed-race students at 17.8%. 12.8% of Asians and Pacific Islanders report feeling "put down" by those ostensibly educating them, as do 11.5% of African-Americans. In high-minority schools, dissatisfaction increases for Latin Americans (18.5%) and African-Americans (13.4%), but decreases for Native Americans, Alaskan Natives and the mixed-race students (14.4%) and stays the exact same for Asians and Pacific Islanders.

  9. 10th grade students at low-minority schools are split over the opinion that poor behavior is often ignored: 46.4% of African-American and Latin American students at low-minority schools believe that their classmates receive adequate punishment for misbehavior. By contrast, Asians and Pacific Islanders (54.8%) and Native Americans, Alaskan Natives and mixed-races (50.9%) think otherwise. At high-minority schools, however, only African-Americans continue to think that behavior issues are satisfactorily addressed. Asians and Pacific Islanders (59.5%), Latin Americans (55.4%) and Native American, Alaskan Native and mixed-race students (65.6%) all feel as if their educators could do a far better job distributing punishment to the ill-behaved.

  10. African-American 10th graders at low-minority schools are most likely to find misbehavior distracting: When other students start disrupting class with ill behavior, 52.3% of African-American 10th graders at low-minority schools found it detrimental to their education. 41.9% of Asians and Pacific Islanders, 45.6% of Latin Americans and 45.9% of "Others" (Native Americans, Alaskan Natives and those of multiple racial backgrounds) did not. At high-minority schools, however, all demographics think misbehavior negatively impacts the classroom experience — especially Asians and Pacific Islanders at 58.1%.

  11. Nonsectarian, special education private schools have the highest percentage of minority students: Nonsectarian private schools in general frequently boast higher amounts of minority students than their religious counterparts. Those focusing on special education, at 37.9% of their student body, host more than any other. Regular nonsectarian private schools come in second place at 32.1%, and those with some sort of special emphasis (such as the arts or mathematics and sciences) are comprised of 30.8% minorities. The latest numbers on the subject come from the 2005-2006 school year.

  12. 10.2% of private school principals are minorities: Among the private schools, those run by the Seventh-Day Adventist faith overwhelmingly host the highest number of minority principals — 26.4%. 17.7% of these are African-American, not of Latin American descent, 2.5% are Asian, not of Latin American descent and 6.3% are Latin American, whether of single or mixed-race. The number of Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, Pacific Islander and mixed-race (all without any intersections with Latin American background) within this community rounded up to 0.

  13. African-American students are the minorities most likely to be bullied: 28.5% of African-American students have experienced some form of bullying in their lifetime, and 6th graders (36.6%) are the most vulnerable age group. Those in rural areas (29.0%) also face a heightened risk as well. Insults, name-calling and other abuses rank as the most common form of bullying levied on African-American kids, at 18.5%. 14.2% end up victimized by rumors, 4.9% are threatened with some form of harm, 8.9% are physically abused through shoving, pushing, trips and spitting, 4.7% are forced to do something against their will, 4.5% are purposely excluded from different activities and 4.6% discover their personal properties deliberately destroyed.

  14. Urban, Latin American students were the most likely to report gang activity in their schools: The National Center for Education Statistics released a 2005 study revealing that 48% of urban, Latin American students reported the presence of gangs and gang activities on school grounds in the past 6 months. This demographic also leads in rural areas as well, with 26% saying as such. In total, 38% of urban, suburban and rural Latin Americans witness gangs and gang activity, with African-American students only 1% behind. 23% of total Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Alaskan native and non-Latin American mixed-race made the same report.

  15. Students of Native American, Alaskan Native, Asian, Pacific Islander and mixed heritage are more likely to be the target of racial and ethnic slurs: This 2005 study by the National Center for Education Statistics posits that 11.8% of the aforementioned demographics found themselves victimized by racially- and ethnically-charged language. 7th graders (3.5%) and those living in urban areas (3.3%) were the most likely to use such terminology as well. 8.8% of these kids reported slurs related to race, while 4.2% said the same thing about ethnicity. Males were more likely than females to receive insults on these terms as well, with 5.2% and 3.8% (respectively) dealing with race and 3.2% and 2.0% (respectively) dealing with ethnicity.

  16. 41% of high-school age Pacific Islanders had easy access to drugs in 2005: After Pacific Islanders, the most vulnerable racial and ethnic demographic was Latin American students at 34%. Thirty-two percent of mixed-race high schoolers had quick, painless access to drugs, and Native Americans and African-Americans tied at 24% – the exact same number as majority Caucasians. Asians reported the lowest numbers, with 16% saying they could pick up illicit substances at school within the past year.

  17. 10% of Latin American students age 12-18 fear an attack on school grounds: Six percent of them harbor fear of a physical assault outside of school, as compared to 7% African-American students. On campus, however, 9% of African-American students ages 12 through 18 fear attacks, along with 6% of Native Americans, Asians, Alaskan Natives, Pacific Islanders and the mixed-race. All of these figures charted their experiences, as reported to the National Center for Education Statistics in 2005, within the past 6 months.

  18. In 2005, 7.1% of African-American students between the ages of 12 and 18 have to avoid certain parts of campus: And these pre-teens and teens must do so in order to protect themselves from physical assault. Once again, 7th graders are the most vulnerable demographic, with 5.8% of the total student population voicing such concerns. As are students in urban areas, at 6.3%. 10 years earlier, Latin American students (12.9%) were the ones most likely to stay away from the school locations where they feared some sort of altercation; though the numbers for African-American students (12.1%) were not significantly lower.

  19. Pacific Islanders are the most likely to be threatened or injured with a weapon in high school: A 2005 report by the National Center for Education Statistics noted that 14.5% of Pacific Islanders in grades 9 through 12 were either injured or threatened with injury by a weapon on school grounds. Mixed-race students were next in line with 10.7% reporting victimization, followed by Latin Americans and Native Americans (both at 9.8%), African-Americans (8.1%) and Asians (4.6%). No matter the race or ethnicity, 10.5% of 9th graders suffered from such assaults, making them the most vulnerable demographic.

  20. African-American teachers are the most likely to receive injuries or threats of injuries from students: Regardless of whether or not they taught in private or public schools, 11.8% of African-American teachers found themselves physically victimized or threatened with physical victimization at the hands of their students in the 2003-2004 school year. The majority (13.2%) of these incidents occurred in urban areas, with men (8.5% total) teaching public school (7.5% total) at the secondary level (8.0% total) the most vulnerable.