Path Home Shows 2014 Show Archive September 2014 Show 1436 Oklahoma’s Changing Demographics

Oklahoma’s Changing Demographics

We look at how Texas is handling its growing Latino population.
Oklahoma’s Changing Demographics

Oklahoma’s Changing Demographics

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Oklahoma Department of Commerce

Show Details

Show 1436: Oklahoma’s Changing Demographics
Air Date: September 7, 2014

 

Transcript

Rob McClendon: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us here on “Horizon.” Well, America was built by immigrants who converged from around the world looking for a better life. Over the past two decades, we have witnessed a steady growth in the number of foreign-born residents, from right at 8 percent of our population in 1990 to over 13 percent in 2010. It has been called the browning of America due to the fact that over the past 20 years, over half of those new residents are from Latin America. In fact, the big surprise for many in the latest census was just how quickly our Latino population has grown. And nowhere has the growth been more dramatic than in Texas. So we headed down I-35 to look at how changing demographics are changing America.

[Music].

Rob: It’s fiesta time in San Antonio, Texas. And police Sgt. James Warner is walking his beat, patrolling a city in a state where as a white male, he is in the minority.

James Warner: I grew up here and picked up a little Spanish along the way. But it’s been a predominately Hispanic, Latin, Mexican culture. It’s a wonderful culture! It’s very pleasant, very loving, very family-oriented, very strong families.

Rob: While Texas may have won its independence from Mexico in 1836, here in the Alamo City, Mexican influence always remained.

[Music].

Rob: Everything from the local culture to the local cuisine screams Tex-Mex (whew).

[Mariachi Music].

Rob: Now, if this plate of quesadillas was Texas, roughly half is now Hispanic. But here in San Antonio that number is now at 64 percent. And many believe as San Antonio goes, so goes Texas. And as Texas goes, so goes the nation.

Octavio Hinojosa: We did not cross the border, the border crossed us.

Rob: Octavio Hinojosa is with San Antonio’s Hispanic chamber.

Hinojosa: We are probably now the second largest single ethnic group in the United States after Americans who have a German background.

Rob: A growth fueled more by higher birth rates in the Latino community than by immigration.

Hinojosa: What this means is that the United States Hispanic community is the 15th largest consumer market in the world.

Rob: With an economic purchasing power of over $1 trillion and growing.

Hinojosa: So there still is a very strong potential of further growth because we are still a very young population. A third of the U.S. Hispanic population is still under the age of 18 and has yet to enter the workforce. And so we basically are witnessing is a second version of a baby boom if you will.

Rob: Which does present its own set challenges all across Texas. Welcome to Castleberry Elementary, the exact same hallways that I walked down as a child. And while they do seem decidedly narrower these days, the real differences are when you open the yearbook and look who makes up the classes. Meet Renee Smith-Faulkner, a classmate of mine and now the assistant superintendent over technology. So how has the old alma mater changed since we graduated?

Renee Smith-Faulkner: Well, some things have stayed the same. However, there are a lot of changes, especially in our demographics. And probably when I first came into this position in 2001 we reported that our Hispanic population was about 40 percent. In our last spring submission, we were around 75 percent.

Rob: So what has that meant for instruction and curriculum?

Renee Smith-Faulkner: Well, we’ve had to change instruction. We’ve had to definitely send our teachers to staff development. We’ve had staff development and implemented dual language programs, enrichment programs.

Rob: That are now in both English and in Spanish. School Superintendent Gary Jones.

Gary Jones: We required our teachers to have ESL training, English as a second language, so they would understand the techniques and how to reach out to the kids and really re-educated our staff. Once we got that in place, then we started really working on our parents.

Rob: Going as far as to offer night classes to parents wanting to learn English, too.

Gary Jones: We found the best way for that was to always include the kids. They would be explaining to Mom and Dad, “This is what I am doing, this is how I am doing it,” and it was both in Spanish and in English.

Rob: And while it has taken effort on everyone’s part to meld the two cultures, it has also taken some new money.

Gary Jones: We are a very small district. So you don’t really anticipate a lot of growth. But what we have experienced as our community has aged and as new families, as they have moved out, new families have moved in, and those families have children.

Rob: The latest census numbers show seven of every 10 births in Texas are now to minorities, with Hispanics accounting for 65 percent of Texas’ booming population growth.

Gary Jones: We have probably gained 400 kids in the last five to six years, which may not be a lot for a large district, but when you start off at 3,200 kids, you add 400, that is a significant increase.

Rob: Especially on the elementary school level -- classrooms bursting at the seams and school buildings once adequate, suddenly obsolete. Well, growing up, this old pine tree was right outside my bedroom window, and while the old tree still stands, not much of the old neighborhood does. In fact, my home as well as others in the neighborhood were torn down to make way for a desperately needed new elementary school.

Rob: And while the old neighborhood may never look the same, the changes underway, Hinojosa believes, only makes our country stronger.

Hinojosa: We live in a country that changes with every generation. There is nothing to fear. In fact, it is even better because what we are seeing is our country is renewed with every generation. I think at the end of the day it is just a matter of learning to appreciate who we are as Americans because we are changing with every generation.

Rob: Well, the foreign-born population in the U.S. has been growing steadily over the past two decades, with the largest group of foreign-born coming from Latin America. But more and more undocumented workers are getting a one-way ticket home. The number of illegal immigrants deported by the United States doubled in the past decade to almost 400,000 last year. And of those, almost half were convicted criminals. When we return, we face the facts on some significant demographic changes here at home.