Southern population growth: impact on education

As noted here recently, the South is experiencing explosive population growth and a changing demographic.

In this report, the Southern Regional Education Board takes a look at the implications for school systems around the South and concludes:

More than half of the nation's population growth over the next 20 years will be in SREB states. The most dramatic increase will be in the Hispanic population. The preschool-to-college-age proportions of the population are expected to be similar to those today, however. The proportion of working-age adults will decline, and the proportion of older adults will rise.

These projected changes, when coupled with faster minority growth rates, imply ongoing educational challenges for the SREB states. The proportionally smaller working-age population will have to support an increasingly minority and low-income school population and a rapidly growing number of retirees.

States in the SREB region include Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

From 1997 to 2007, the overall growth in SREB states was 17% as compared to 13% nationwide. The four fastest growing SREB states from 1997 to 2007 were Georgia (27%), Florida (24%), Texas (24%), and North Carolina (22%).

It is interesting to note that two of these states, Texas and Florida (along with Tennessee) have no state income tax. They rely heavily on sales tax revenues which many experts say provide less elasticity in growing economies, making it harder for states to keep up funding for education and other government services.