There has been a radical rise over the last twenty-five years in the number of people that self-identify as “Hispanic” on the U.S. Census and other official forms. Between 1980 and 2005 the Hispanic population nearly tripled, increasing from 14.6 million to 41.9 million. In 2005, Hispanics made up 14.5 percent of the total U.S. population, and the latest projections are that Hispanics will be 24.4 percent of the population in 2050. From meat-packing plants in Nebraska to poultry plants in north Georgia, from central Washington to central Iowa, a new human landscape is being formed in places where Spanish was not heard and salsa was not sold. Public schools set in that landscape are profoundly affected by their new Hispanic students.

At the start, ...

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