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Latino Children Outnumber Blacks in U.S.

THE WASHINGTON POST

The number of Latino children in this country has surpassed the number of African American children, the federal government reported Tuesday, signaling the leading edge of a demographic wave that will transform the national profile in coming decades.

There are 10.5 million Latino children under age 18, outnumbering non-Latino black children by 35,000. That numerical benchmark constitutes the earliest indicator of a population change that experts have predicted for some time: the point seven years from now when Latinos will become the nation’s largest minority group.

The trend underscores the racial and ethnic reconfiguration in the United States, as whites steadily decline as a share of the population and communities coast to coast take on a more diverse character.

Since birthrates are generally higher among Latina women, the make-over is occurring first among the nation’s children, where classrooms, playgrounds and soccer fields in many communities reflect a broad range of languages and cultures.

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In just a generation, the report said, white non-Latino children have declined from 74% to 66% of all children. And by 2020, projections show, more than one in five children will be of Latino origin.

Also, the number of school-age children who speak a language other than English at home and have difficulty speaking English has doubled since 1979, making up 5% of all children in those age groups.

In many communities, these changes are igniting a debate over the merits of bilingual education, particularly in California, where non-Latino whites will no longer be the majority as early as next year. California voters recently rejected the practice of teaching children in both English and their native languages in favor of one year of intensive instruction in English.

The report, “America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being,” was released by a consortium of federal agencies and dealt with a range of measures describing the nation’s population under 18.

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