The kids of the baby boomers (so, for example, my kids since I was born at the tail of the baby boom), coupled with immigration, has pushed enrollment beyond the 1970 record of 48.7 million to a record 49.6 million mark. Our nation prepared deliberately for the baby boom generation, a generation in a way that our present society is not. It did so by expanding both higher education (literally university building structures) and higher education access.
When I contemplate my own admissions into higher education, it's inseparable from the fact that I, as a Mexican American female also entered at a time of expannding access rather than constricted opportunity wherein tighter mechanisms for college admission reign due to limited spaces. The Civil Rights Movement, resulting in Affirmative Action and other policies benefitting women and minorities were also instrumental in securing my admission into higher education—just as they were for so many of us.
With budget crises in both pre-K-12 and higher education, coupled with declining state support for education at all levels (at least in our, and probably numerous other states), difficulties of access and admission into higher education threatens to impact us negatively.
This runs counter to two other trends where 1) human capital as expressed in university credentials is essential now more than previously in order to attain middle class status; and 2) where students today more previous eras also know that their route to the good life is through higher education. The responsible approach therefore is to expand higher education access and enrollmemt. My thoughts for today. -Angela
June 2, 2005
Schools in U.S. Set Enrollment Record
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON, June 1 (AP) - A record 49.6 million students filled American elementary and secondary schools in 2003, breaking a mark set by their baby-boomer parents and giving educators a new generation of challenges, the Census Bureau said Wednesday.
The growth largely stems from children born to the baby boomers, the bureau said. Rising immigration played a part, too, in pushing enrollment past the 1970 record of 48.7 million.
"You could have predicted this back in 1970 when we had all those kids," said Mark Mather, a demographer for the Population Reference Bureau, which assesses population trends. "We knew they were going to have kids of their own. We have this classic echo effect going on."
The record tally of students in the first 12 grades poses steep challenges for schools: recruiting teachers, helping children who do not speak English, keeping class sizes manageable and coming up with financial aid for college students.
In population rings outside urban areas and in Western states like Nevada and California, the growth has been intense, increasing demands on schools.
"They just really don't have the fiscal capacity to match this," said Scott Young, senior policy specialist in education for the National Conference of State Legislatures.
In districts outside Atlanta, Houston and Las Vegas, enrollment has soared more than 20 percent in the last five years.
Immigration helped fuel the boom. A total of 22 percent of students had at least one foreign-born parent.