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A look at kindergarten numbers is a window into the country's changing population.

In 17 states, about one-in-five public school kindergartners are Latino, according to a Pew Research report based on 2012 U.S. Census Bureau data. The same figure was roughly halved, at eight states, in 2000.

There are about 54 million Hispanics in the United States, making up about 17 percent of the nation’s population as the largest minority group. By 2060, Hispanics are expected to make up 60 percent of the overall U.S. population.

Some of the states where Latino children currently make up about 20 percent of the kindergarten class - including Nebraska, Idaho and Washington, had historically few Hispanics. Others, like Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, line the border. In other states like Oregon, Kansas and New York, one-in-four kindergartners are Latino.

The rise reflects a nationwide trend of minority growth; the Department of Education expects this year’s incoming students to be 50.3 percent black, Asian or Hispanic. This marks a steep increase from 1997, when about 36.8 percent of students were minority.


— Natalie Daher