The State of School Segregation

Be it housing or schooling, segregation matters.

Segregated communities hinder education, limit access to networks and jobs, and lead to a lower quality of life when compared to integrated communities. This is the case even when controlling for wealth discrepancy.

And according to a recent article by the Afro, Maryland’s public schools system is currently one of the most segregated in the nation. Another article from the Washington Post,  marks Maryland as the sixth-most-segregated state in the country for black students.

In UCLA’s Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles report, entitled “Settle for Segregation or Strive for Diversity? A Defining Moment for Maryland’s Public Schools,” the article examines the status of school segregation trends in Maryland since the peak of desegregation in the 1980s. The report found that more than 50 percent of the state’s Black students attended schools with minority enrollment rates between 90 and 100 percent during the 2010-2011 school year, up from 33 percent in 1989. At the same time, 15 percent of black students and 14 percent of Latino students attended so-called “apartheid schools” across the nation while white students made up zero to 1 percent of the enrollment, up from 19.1 percent in 1989.

Segregation in public schools has been linked to a number of problems that play a role in the achievement of minorities. Racially segregated schools tend to be economically separated as well. Schools with a high number of students who live in poverty have higher dropout rates, fewer experienced teachers and far less resources than schools with majority middle- and upper-class students.

In the article, President of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, Lezli Baskerville, notes that the effects of “less experienced teachers, higher teacher turnover, disparities in teaching materials, disparities in technology, disparities in facilities, and disparities in student teacher ratios – are deleterious” to our children.

The report, conducted by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, states that as one of 17 states in which there was historically intense segregation, Maryland made a modest effort to desegregate but then abandoned this effort. After the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, school districts across the state tried a number of ways to desegregate their schools, including mandatory busing in Prince George’s County, magnet schools in Montgomery County and a freedom of choice plan in Baltimore. Although districts made some progress in eliminating segregation in our schools, once the goal of decreasing segregation was forgotten, many schools in Maryland have once again reached historic levels of segregation.

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