In a new report on population trends in public schools, the Texas Education Agency reports that Texas now enrolls 130,000 fewer white children than 10 years ago.
For the first time, Hispanic children dominate first-grade classes, adding about 4,000 children last year to become the outright majority with 50.2 percent of students.
But Hispanic children would have become dominant without even one new student, because white first-grade enrollment dropped by about 2,000.
White children are now fewer than one-third of the first-graders in Texas.
If this is a surprise to us, it’s not one to Karl Eschbach of the University of Texas-San Antonio, appointed by Gov. Rick Perry as the official state demographer.
“What people don’t realize is the sheer inevitability of this change,” Eschbach said Friday.
It isn’t about immigration, he said. It’s about native-born Texan and American children growing up.
Some white conservatives — not all of them but certainly all the ones with radio shows — fear the “Latinization” of Texas. No reason to fear.
“It’s already happened,” Eschbach said.
In Harris County, the tipping point was two years ago, when Hispanics became the plurality. The state of Texas is still predominantly white, but not majority white, not since 2003.
“If the state is going to be healthy, we have to invest in children,” Eschbach said, repeating part of the presentation he gives across the state. “We have to invest in education. We have to invest in preparing children for a global economy.”
In other words, Texas’ future depends on how well we prepare today’s minority children.
Eschbach was blunt.
“The children who don’t ‘look like us’ will have the greatest say in the state’s future success,” he said.
He sounds a lot like his predecessor, Steve Murdock. Maybe one of these years we’ll actually start listening to these guys.