HISPANIC AND LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENT (LEP) POPULATION GROWTH IN NORTH CAROLINA Has the Hispanic population in North Carolina increased, decreased, or stayed about the same since 1990? What other information can we determine about the Hispanic population? What do we know about the overall growth and racial/ethnic composition of the LEP population in North Carolina from the trends in the 1990s? What effect has the increase in the LEP population had on schools and school systems in North Carolina? How has the state responded to the growth in the LEP population? Related pages
Has the Hispanic population in North Carolina increased, decreased, or stayed about the same since 1990?
The Hispanic population in North Carolina, and thus the limited English proficient population, has increased significantly since 1990. For example, the U.S Census Bureau estimates that the Hispanic population increased from 76,745 to 175,707 between 4/1/90 and 7/1/99. This represents a 129% increase in the Hispanic population during that interval (see “States Ranked by Hispanic Population, July 1, 1999” at http://www.census.gov/population/estimates/state/rank/hisp.txt for data on all 50 states).
This trend will almost assuredly continue once the U.S. Census Bureau releases the state data for North Carolina from Census 2000, given that the national data released from Census 2000 showed that the Hispanic population grew 58% to 35.3 million between 1990 and 2000 (for full story, see San Jose Mercury News, March 13, 2001 edition, at http://www.bayarea.com.)
An additional indicator of the growth of the Hispanic population in North Carolina between 1990 and 1999 is the rise in Hispanic births in the state for each calendar year during that period. According to the North Carolina office of State Planning, the number of births increased each year between 1990 and 1999. In 1990, there were 1,752 Hispanic children born statewide; in 1999, there were 9,848. These figures plus the calendar year births between 1990 and 1999 for each county in North Carolina can be found at http://www.ospl.state.nc.us/demog/hispdata.html on the internet.
What are some reasons for the substantial increase in the Hispanic (and overall LEP) population over the past few years in North Carolina?
Some of the most frequently mentioned reasons for the burgeoning Hispanic (and overall LEP population) are:
(For the full “Summary Report of the Survey of the States’ Limited English Proficient Students and Available Educational Programs and Services, 1996-97” from the National Clearinghouse on Bilingual Education, see http://www.ncbe.gwu.edu/ncbepubs/seareports)
- Large numbers of migratory families are choosing to settle in North Carolina rather than move on to follow the growing season. This has induced friends and extended family members of these previously migratory families to relocate to North Carolina from other states and countries.
- The textile, poultry, and furniture industries (and some other industries) have increased production in recent years and have actively recruited and encouraged workers to settle in North Carolina.
- There are several large military complexes located throughout the state.
Not surprisingly, many of the immigrant workers and their families and friends, many undocumented, are settling in rural poultry and meat packing towns throughout North Carolina. This has occurred through a combination of poultry processing worker incentives, industry recruiting efforts, and word of mouth. The processing industry, for example, changed dramatically since the 1970s. Many processing plants moved to rural towns and increased production as the demand for poultry increased. These factors increased the demand for cheap labor, and many Hispanic (and other) immigrant workers responded eagerly. (For full story of “Southern Schools Strain Under Immigrant Arrivals”, see http://www.aliciapatterson.org/APF1903/Cuadros/Cuadros.html)
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What other information can we determine about the Hispanic population?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Hispanic population in North Carolina is much younger than the total population statewide. Their estimates show that, in 1997, 37% of the Hispanic population was under age eighteen compared with 25% of the total population, and the percentages were 40% and 27%, respectively, for the two groups for the population between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five. Combining these two groups of data reveals that 77% of the Hispanic population is age thirty-five or under, compared with 52% for the rest of the population. (For full report entitled “A Profile of Hispanic Newcomers to North Carolina” by Johnson, Johnson-Webb, and Farrell, see http://www.iog.unc.edu/pubs/electronicversions/pg/hispan.htm.)
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What do we know about the overall growth and racial/ethnic composition of the LEP population in North Carolina from the trends in the 1990s?
For example, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the number of LEP students in North Carolina classrooms statewide grew from about 15,000 in 1994-95 to about 28,000 in 1997-98. Over the past two decades, the LEP population has mostly consisted of people who were born in (or are offspring of people who were born in) Mexico, another Latin American Country, or Southeast Asia. Between these two groups of newcomers to the state, Hispanics constitute the much larger group. Of the Hispanic newcomers, most are Hispanics of Mexican descent. (For more information, refer to http://www.iog.unc.edu/pubs/electronicversions/pg/hispan.htm.)
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What effect has the increase in the LEP population had on schools and school systems in North Carolina?
The fact that the Hispanic population is relatively young compared to the total population in North Carolina combined with the steady increase in Hispanic births each year will continue to increase the number of school-age Hispanic children and the percentages of LEP students in North Carolina public schools. This has placed an increased burden – e.g., funds, space, materials, and other resources – on the schools and school districts around the state to provide English language instruction to limited English proficient students. Districts that were already strapped for funds and resources have had to scrape together resources to serve the rising number of students with limited English proficiency.
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How has the state responded to the growth in the LEP population?
Before 1999, the state had not appropriated funds to help school systems around the state serve the educational needs of LEP students around the state. However, for the first time in state history, the General Assembly appropriated $5 million dollars in the fiscal year 1999 budget to help districts serve LEP students. The state appropriated another $5 million in fiscal year 2000. The funds were for ESL personnel and programs throughout the state. The text of the budget also provided statewide standards for serving LEP students. Despite the new state aid, schools and school districts still find the need frequently to squeeze money from local budgets to hire translators and buy instructional materials, borrow teachers from foreign-language classes, and tap federal bilingual education programs to pay for professional development in order to meet the needs of the state’s ballooning LEP population. Some legislators and educators believe that more in the neighborhood of $30 million to $60 million is needed to provide enough assistance to the districts statewide, especially the most affected districts, to help them meet the guidelines and mandates for serving LEP students. (For full story, see “Rural N.C. to Get Aid for LEP-Student Influx” by Kathleen Manzo article at http://www.edweek.org/ew/vol-18/20nc.h18 for more details.)
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