The latest census numbers show:
* The population younger than 5 stood at 49.9 percent minority in 2012.
* The nonwhite population increased by 1.9 percent to 116 million, or 37 percent. Hispanics make up 17 percent of the U.S.; blacks, 12.3 percent; Asians, 5 percent; and multiracial Americans, 2.4 percent.
* About 353 of the nation's 3,143 counties, or 11 percent, are now "majority-minority," including six which tipped last year.
* Among the under-5 age group, 22 percent live in poverty, typically in more rural states such as Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana. Black toddlers were most likely to be poor, at 41 percent, followed by Hispanics at 32 percent and whites at 13 percent. Asian toddlers had a poverty rate of 11 percent.
Smeeding's analysis of the latest research and data on social mobility, provided to The Associated Press, shows that a child's achievement varies widely depending on a parent's education and income. The reason: More educated parents tend to have fewer children and generally earn more money than before, allowing them to spend larger amounts of time or money on a child's development, including music or art classes, extra tutoring, or travel and summer camps.
The gaps in achievement tend to emerge early in childhood, continuing through high school, and disparities are especially evident in SAT admission scores. College Board data show that average scores spread as wide as 130-140 points in each of the reading, math and writing sections for a student with family income of less than $20,000, compared with a student with family income exceeding $200,000.
About 40 percent of whites age 25-29 graduate from college, compared with 15 percent for Latinos and 23 percent for blacks.
Obama proposed expanding pre-K education for any 4-year-old whose family income was below twice the federal poverty rate, or $46,000 for a family of four. That is an increasingly minority age group that would benefit from what Obama calls the single most effective way to boost educational outcomes.
The plan would be paid for by a nearly $1 per pack federal cigarette tax. But at a time of strapped federal budgets, Republican lawmakers have been reluctant to expand the scope of government or raise new taxes. Medicare and Social Security costs due to aging of the mostly white baby boomer generation are also adding to the government burden.
A recent Rutgers University study found that state funding for pre-K programs had its largest drop ever last year, with states now spending less per child than a decade ago.