Six disruptive trends having an impact on our education system
The second Lora M. Robins Speaker Series event focused on the implications of demographics and geographic disadvantage on public education in Richmond. In his presentation, Dr. James Johnson, director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center at the University of North Carolina, focused on six disruptive trends that are impacting education.
- People are on the move, to the South. From 1910 to 1970 the South only captured about 30 percent of net population growth in the United States, but since 1970 that number has risen to around 50 percent. Migration and immigration are having a profound impact on school systems. From 2010 – 2014 Richmond has experienced a 4.3 percent increase in population. Is Richmond equipped for a growing student population?
- Two colorful demographic processes are driving change – the browning and graying of America. The number of total immigrants (both legal and illegal) coming to the United States has increased dramatically since discriminatory immigration policies were eliminated in the mid-1960s. Additionally, the median age of Americans is significantly higher for whites when compared to other races, leading to an uptick in the birth rates for non-whites. How can Richmond embrace an increasingly diverse population as it works to position itself in the global marketplace?
- Marrying out is in. There’s a profound shift happening in marriage patterns affecting our schools systems, newly married people are marrying someone of a different race. Intermarriages types for newly married couples:
- 41% Hispanic/White
- 15% Asian/White
- 16% both non-white
- 11% Black/white
The children walking into our schools won’t necessarily fit into the typical clusters that we’ve historically put them in. This shift also means that teachers and administrators need to be more aware of how they’re characterizing family life in schools. Are teachers equipped to interact with students from multicultural backgrounds? How does this impact the way we approach talking about families in schools?
- The silver tsunami is about to hit. Every day for the next 20 years, 8,000 Americans are turning 65. Combine that statistic with increased life expectancy and declining fertility rates, and you have a segment of the population that is growing more rapidly than those aged, 25-44. This is also a trend outside of the United States; Japan sells more adult diapers than baby diapers. How can Richmond’s communities adapt to an aging population?
- The end of men? Women will soon surpass men as the majority in the paid workforce. Today, three times as many men of working age do not work at all compared to 1969 – this is due to a variety of factors, skills mismatches, disabilities and incarceration. During the great recession 80% of the job losses were men. Additionally, women are completing post-secondary education at a higher rate than men. What institutions are creating barriers to post-secondary education completion for the men in our communities? What is causing men to withdraw from the workforce in our communities and how can we address those factors?
- Multigenerational households are on the rise. The percentage of children living with both grandparents rose 41.9 percent from 2001 – 2010. Eighteen percent of children in 2010 were living with both their parents and their grandparents in one household. Consider how living in a multigenerational household may affect household income when students are applying for financial aid for college.
To conclude his presentation, Dr. Johnson zeroed in on the three factors connected to geographic disadvantages in K-12 education. He also showed how those factors are having an effect on the schools in Richmond.
- The racial generation gap – counties where the voting age population is predominately white and school age children are predominately not white
- Hyper segregation
- School age poverty
Richmond is a majority minority city, with an estimated 20,000 children currently living in concentrated poverty. When you think about picking a place to go to dinner, you’d likely pick a place based on their brand/reputation. Isn’t it the same for picking a school district to send your kids to? What are we saying in the marketplace about what the Richmond school system provides?