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A Pew Research Center expert told PolitiFact that 26% of K-12 students are Hispanic, but that doesn’t mean they all speak Spanish.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey shows that 15% of K-12 students speak Spanish at home. It’s unclear what additional percentage speak Spanish, but not at home.
In some states with high Hispanic populations — such as California and Texas — more than 26% of K-12 students speak Spanish at home, according to census data.
President Joe Biden hosted a screening of the movie "Flamin’ Hot" in the White House, which tells the story of the son of a Mexican immigrant who went from janitor to top executive of Frito-Lay, the snack food company.
Biden said that "Flamin’ Hot" was the first-ever public screening of a film focused on the Hispanic community at the White House. He then cited a statistic about Spanish-speaking children.
"Do you realize that 26 out of every 100 students in grades kindergarten through 12 speak Spanish?" Biden said June 15.
Is that figure baseless?
The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey shows that about 15% of K-12 students nationwide speak Spanish at home, said Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer and expert on race and ethnicity at the Pew Research Center. But we don’t know how many additional kids speak Spanish away from home.
"We don’t know how many kids can speak (or understand) Spanish, but it is surely larger than the 15% figure who speak it at home," Passel said.
Passel said that about 26% of K-12 students are Hispanic, and that this was probably the figure Biden was referring to when claiming that "26 out of every 100" K-12 students speak Spanish. But not all Hispanic children speak Spanish, he said.
PolitiFact reached out to the White House and Biden’s campaign for comment and did not hear back.
In some states with high Hispanic populations — such as California and Texas — more than 26% of K-12 students speak Spanish at home, according to census data. But Biden’s statement did not make this distinction.
In fall 2020, Spanish was the most common language spoken by K-12 students who were learning English, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.
In 2020, we fact-checked a similar claim Biden made during a Hispanic Heritage event in Kissimmee, Florida. Biden at the time said that "24 of every 100 kids in school today speak Spanish." We rated that Half True, noting that the nationwide percentage of Spanish-speaking students was about 17% and about 20% in Florida.
Biden said "26 out of every 100 students" in K-12 speak Spanish.
Nationwide, 15% of K-12 students speak Spanish at home, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data. The percentage is higher in a few states with high Hispanic populations, 31% in California and 29% in Texas. We don’t know exactly what percentage of additional students also speak Spanish, but not at home.
Census data also shows that 26% of K-12 students are Hispanic, but that doesn't mean they all speak Spanish.
Biden’s statement is partially accurate but omits important details.
We rate it Half True.
RELATED: All of our fact-checks of Joe Biden
The White House, Remarks by President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden at Screening of the Film "Flamin’ Hot", June 15, 2023
The White House, President Biden and the First Lady Host a Screening of the Film "Flamin’ Hot", June 15, 2023
National Center for Educational Statistics, English Learners in Public Schools, accessed June 16, 2023
Email interview with Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer at Pew Research Center. June 16, 2023
Pew Research Center, Key facts about U.S. Latinos for National Hispanic Heritage Month
Twitter, Abdullah Hasan, Assistant Press Secretary of the White House, accessed June 16, 2023
Tweet, RNC Research, June 15, 2023
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