June 2, 2000


Commentary

A Student Body That Looks Like The U.S.A.

By Raoul Lowery Contreras

The almost exponential increase in college students since 1947 will continue for the next twenty years. Surprise, almost all of the increase will be of Hispanic, Black and Asian-origin. Despite a persistent heavy incidence of poverty among Hispanics and Blacks, it is students from these groups that are going to hit college campuses with huge numbers in the next 15 years, according to the Educational Testing Service, the institution that produces the Scholastic Achievement Tests (SAT).

The service estimates that over two million new students will attend college in the next decade and a half and that 80% of them will be of "minority-origin." California, Arizona, Florida, Texas and New Mexico will account for more than half the projected increase of undergraduates. When everyone settles into scarce college seats, Whites will be a minority in California, the District of Columbia, Hawaii and New Mexico. By 2020, Whites will also be a minority in Texas colleges and universities.

Hispanics will number 15% of college enrollment in 2015 (of 19-million), up from today's 11-percent. Asians will increase from five to 8-percent and Blacks will remain steady at about 13-percent. Some California State University campuses, like Cal-State LA, have more than 70% Hispanic enrollment now.

"Our campus is projected to grow to 20-25,000 students by 2020. We project that about 30% will be Hispanic by then, if enrollment reflects the demographics of North County, South Orange County and Southwest Riverside County, the three areas we mostly draw students from," says Dr. Alex Gonzalez, President of the newly built Cal-State San Marcos . In fact, Dr. Gonzalez predicts that "someday, I expect Cal-State San Marcos will have a student body that is 50%-50%, Hispanic and Anglo/Black/Asian.

On the down side of the study's projections about increasing minority enrollment is what Sonia Hernandez of the California Department of Education said in an official statement attached to the study; to wit: "I am very worried that we could fail these children." She's worried that colleges will not be prepared to meet this burgeoning demand and the shifting demographics of college enrollment, particularly in California, Texas and Florida.

Will state K-12 schools be able to deliver prepared-for-college students? In recent years, California has imposed stricter standards about English and math preparation so many who need remedial work have to accomplish it before they enroll, or must do so within a specified time.

Dr. Gonzalez is very direct about consequences of changing collegiate demographics. He worries that the coming changes will bring social and racial problems to the surface. For example, how will the projected California White minority in 2020 feel about spending billions to educate mostly Mexican American collegians? Given that these same people demonstrated a huge anti-Mexican rage in 1994 with Proposition 187, it is a certainty that they will be demanding to know why they should pay taxes to educate Mexican Americans.

Fortunately for the politics of 2020, those of the majority Mexican-origin people of California will respond with a demand to know why they should pay onerous Social Security taxes to fund the very same Anglos with checks drawn on Mexican American worker paychecks. We will have what used to be called a "Mexican stand-off." That, because of the sea change in California demographics, a change that will also affect New Mexico, Texas and Arizona.

Better yet, before a war develops between working Mexican Americans paying for Anglo Social Security checks and Anglos paying taxes to educate Mexican Americans in college, the solution might be in what radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh said when he read the wire story about this increasing minority enrollment. He was ecstatic.

"See," Limbaugh trumpeted, "they said it couldn't be done. 80% of this huge increase in college students will be minority and be in California and they're doing it without Affirmative Action. See," he said, "they're doing it on their own."

Now, if only the rest of the Anglo population will look at this development in the same manner, there won't be problems. The study also states that if Hispanics and Blacks attended college in the same proportion as Anglos and Asians, the national economy would grow by an additional $231-billion a year. If that's the case, we have to worry about getting more kids ready for college, starting in kindergarten.

And we have to make sure that Hispanics and Black parents push their children harder than they presently do. Parents who do must pressure parents who don't. This is a problem that only the Hispanic and Black communities can solve. That, of course, is another column.

This study and what it projects is good news for all, for different reasons. Even Rush Limbaugh thinks so.

Contact Raoul at www.raoul.net. You can now hear Raoul on the radio Sundays at 11:00 A.M. until 1:00 P.M. on KCBQ-1170AM, starting this Sunday.

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