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Data Shows Rise in Idaho’s Hispanic Student Population

by Angel Gonzalez
Education facts from Idaho’s Hispanic Data Book
Getting new data on education in Idaho is a treat, particularly for folks who are working to make data-driven decisions to improve our state’s system. There are few opportunities I get throughout the year where I am able to eagerly rummage through new data that tells a story about where our state is and where we are headed.
A few weeks ago, the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs, in partnership with the McClure Center for Public Policy, released their 4th edition of Idaho Hispanic Profile Data Book for Idaho. The data book assembles a wide set of statistics about the Hispanic population in Idaho which includes information on topics like demographic change, morality, health, employment, and education.
Here are some facts from the data book that are important for people who are working to improve education in Idaho:

“Hispanics account for 42% of K-12 public school enrollment growth between the 2010-11 and 2015-16 school year”

The makeup of Idaho’s public school system will continue to change as time goes on and it is imperative for Idaho’s future that these students have every opportunity afforded to non-Hispanic students. The data book points out that Hispanic students make up 12 percent of the total population, but 18 percent of the students that go to public school. Our schools and districts need to be intentional about building education programming and academic support for this growing population.

“Idaho Hispanics make up 2% of Idaho public school teachers”

There is a wide gulf between the demographics in the growing Hispanic student population and the teacher workforce. Students can feel empowered when they have teachers that reflect their cultural backgrounds. There is even research that shows that all students stand to benefit when they have a teacher of color. Idaho already faces a teacher shortage, but we also have to reckon with the dearth of Hispanic folks working in education.

“Hispanics are under-represented in charter schools.”

Bluum has addressed this before in other posts. Specifically, the data book reports that two public charter schools in Eastern Idaho serve a significantly lower number of Hispanic students than their district counterparts (24% in public charter vs. 51% in the Jerome Joint SD, for example). Another Southeastern public charter serves only 7% Hispanic students, compared with its district counterpart’s 21%.
There are, however, some bright spots in charter diversity efforts. Schools like Another Choice Virtual Charter, Blackfoot Charter, Compass Public Charter, and Vision Charter all doubled their Hispanic enrollment in the last five years. It is encouraging to see these students included in these public schools of choice, but the sector can still do more to serve this demographic.
As Bluum pointed out in a previous study, charters can reach out to and serve Hispanic communities better by creating culturally relevant school programs and recruitment strategies. This will be especially important as Idaho’s student demographics continue to become more and more diverse.

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