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“Our expectation is all of our kids succeed,” he said.

Private schools nationally are changing as well, seeing a smaller number of white students and a greater number of Hispanic students in their decreasing pool of children.

The new majority-minority status of America’s schools mirrors a change that is coming for the nation as a whole. The Census Bureau estimates that the country’s population will have more minorities than whites for the first time in 2043, a change due in part to higher birth rates among Hispanics and a stagnating or declining birth rate among blacks, whites and Asians.

Today, slightly more than 1 in 5 kids speaks a language other than English at home.

But even as the population becomes more diverse, schools are becoming more racially segregated, reflecting U.S. housing patterns.

The disparities are evident even in the youngest of black, Hispanic and Native American children, who on average enter kindergarten academically behind their white and Asian peers. They are more likely to attend failing schools and face harsher school discipline.

Later, they have lower standardized test scores, on average, fewer opportunities to take advanced classes and are less likely to graduate.

Duncan said the disparities are unacceptable, and the country needs to make sure all students “have an opportunity to have a world class education, to do extraordinarily well.”

As the school-age population has become more nonwhite, it’s also become poorer, said Patricia Gandara, co-director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA who serves on President Barack Obama’s advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

Roughly one-quarter of Hispanics and African-Americans live below the poverty line - meaning a family of four has nearly $24,000 in annual income - and some of the poorest of Hispanic children are dealing with the instability of being in the country illegally or with a parent who is, Gandara said.

Focusing on teacher preparation and stronger curriculum is “not going to get us anywhere unless we pay attention to the really basic needs of these children, things like nutrition and health and safety, and the instability of the homes,” she said.

This transformation in school goes beyond just educating the children. Educators said parents must feel comfortable and accepted in schools, too.

Lisa Mack, president of the Ohio PTA, encourages local leaders to include grandparents and replace events such as a sock hop with one with a Motown theme that might be more inclusive or to provide opportunities for people of different ethnic groups to bring food to share at monthly meetings.

“I think one thing that’s critical is that schools and PTAs and everyone just need to understand that with changing demographics, you can’t do things the way you’ve done them before,” she said. “That you have to be creative in reaching out and making them feel welcomed and valued and supported in the school system.”

Some schools are seeking teachers to help reflect the demographics of their student population.

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