Hispanic Student Growth Fuels Enrollment Increase

Monday, February 5th 2007, 11:36 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Fueled by a nearly 8 percent increase in the number of Hispanic students, enrollment at Oklahoma public schools jumped by more than 4,500 students this year, state officials announced Monday.

The total number of students in the public system reached 639,014, which continues a 10-year upward trend, according to enrollment numbers released Monday by the State Department of Education.

The number of Hispanic students increased by 7.6 percent, and Hispanic students now comprise 10 percent of the state's public school population, the numbers show. In the last 10 years, the number of Hispanic students has increased 129 percent.

The state's public school population currently is 58.6 percent white, 19.3 percent American Indian, 10.8 percent black, 9.5 percent Hispanic and 1.8 percent Asian/Pacific Islander, according to the enrollment numbers.

State Superintendent Sandy Garrett said the shifting demographics is the most notable aspect of the increase in enrollment.

"With our state now having among the nation's highest academic standards, it is very important for the governor and lawmakers to recognize how fast-changing demographics pose challenges for our schools, like language barriers and higher poverty," Garrett said in a statement.