The Changing Face Of America

cordes, census, changing america
Census figures reveal a new reality in America's classrooms, reports CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes. Minority populations are climbing everywhere.

"The white population, I wouldn't say is fading into the background, but it is becoming the older, less fertile part of the population," says demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institute.

Frey crunched the census data and found huge jumps in the Hispanic population far from the traditional melting pots - up 21 percent in St. Joseph, Missouri; up 17 percent in Scranton, Pennsylvania; and 15 percent in Pascagoula, Mississippi - all in just one year's time.

"You're seeing it everywhere. People are going for jobs," Frey says. "They're going because they want the American Dream."

Whites still make up 66 percent of the population. But their numbers have grown only two percent since 2000, compared to eight percent for blacks, 29 percent for Hispanics and 26 percent for Asians.

"It's tough because we are seen as being either inconsequential or that we're not even really Americans," says Chinese-American writer Helen Zia.

It's forcing school systems to adjust quickly to new fault lines. In Maryland's Montgomery County outside Washington, D.C., the schools went from mostly white in the 1990s to 60 percent minorities today.

Superintendent Jerry Weast dropped class sizes, boosted literacy programs and now sends pamphlets to parents in six different languages.

"If you don't have a plan to accommodate the diversity and the poverty and the language, your community is gonna have a train wreck," Weast says.

The census bureau has long predicted that whites would drop below 50 percent of the population by the year 2050. Experts say the new data suggest that shift could come far sooner.