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Report Finds Over Half of Maryland’s Black Students Attend Intensely Segregated Schools

Date Published: April 18, 2013
Maryland’s public school students are increasingly segregated by race and class, in spite of growing diversity in student enrollment statewide. The report is the first of its kind to thoroughly explore the status of school segregation trends in Maryland since the peak of desegregation in the 1980s.
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April 18, 2013

UCLA Report Finds Over Half of Maryland’s Black Students 
Attend Intensely Segregated Schools

School Segregation Escalates Even as State’s Population Becomes More Multiracial

LOS ANGELES—Maryland’s public school students are increasingly segregated by race and class, in spite of growing diversity in student enrollment statewide, according to a report released today by The Civil Rights Project at UCLA. The report is the first of its kind to thoroughly explore the status of school segregation trends in Maryland since the peak of desegregation in the 1980s. Settle for Segregation or Strive for Diversity? A Defining Moment for Maryland’s Public Schools shows that over half (54.2%) of the state’s black students attended intensely segregated schools (90-100% minority) during the 2010-2011 school year, a large increase from one-third (33.5%) in 1989. At the same time, nearly a quarter of Maryland’s black students (22.9%) attended apartheid schools (99-100% minority) in 2010, up from 19.1% in 1989. 

In fact, the report finds that these segregation levels for black students exceed those in Virginia (see recent CRP report) and a number of Southern states that also had de jure segregation in the past.

The report also found dramatic upsurges in segregation for Latino students since 1989, at the same time that their school enrollment increased. Most notably, in 2010, 78.1% of Latino students attended majority minority schools (more than 50% minority), a sharp rise from 47.0% in 1989. 

The report summarizes decades of research indicating that segregated schools are strongly related to many forms of unequal educational opportunity and outcomes. Minority segregated schools have fewer experienced and less qualified teachers, high levels of teacher turnover, inadequate facilities and learning materials, high dropout rates, and less stable enrollments. Conversely, desegregated schools are linked to profound benefits for all students.

The report notes that Maryland, one of 17 states that previously had de jure segregation as an official state policy, is a state in which there was historically intense segregation, followed by a modest effort to desegregate and then an abandonment of this effort. Following the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, school districts across Maryland employed various methods 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 desegregating their schools, after plans that had the explicit goal of decreasing segregation ended, many of the schools in Maryland have again reached high levels of segregation.

From 1989 to 2010, statewide enrollment in Maryland’s public schools has become far more diverse and multiracial, the report reveals. The share of white students decreased from 61.9% to 43.4%, Latino students increased from 2.1% to 11.7%, while the black share of enrollment grew slightly from 32.3% to 35.1%. These enrollment changes mirror national trends and are caused by migration patterns and different birth rates and age structures, not a shift to private schools. The increased isolation of black students highlighted in this report is not due to their growth in total enrollment—which has been relatively stable—but is far more related to the declining share of whites.

The educational problems caused by racial separation are greatly intensified by concentrated poverty. In 2010, more than half of students in majority minority schools and almost three-quarters of students in apartheid schools were low-income, producing a double segregation of the state’s students by race and class. 

In the Baltimore-Washington Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area (CMSA), similar trends toward increasing segregation are evident: 

  • From 1989-2010, the share of majority minority schools almost doubled and intensely segregated schools almost tripled; in 2010, more than one-tenth of the total schools were apartheid schools.
  • In 2010, two districts had notably high shares of apartheid schools: 44.3% of Baltimore City Public Schools and 33.7% of Prince George’s County Public Schools were 99-100% minority schools.
  • In 2010, 57.4% of black students attended intensely segregated schools, up from 35.8% in 1989; 38.6% of Latino students attended intensely segregated schools, up from 6.8% in 1989.
  • In 2010, the typical black student attended a school with 54.8% low-income students and the typical Latino student attended a school with 49.9% low-income students, both more than double the share of low-income students in schools attended by the typical white student (24.4%).

Using 1989-2010 data from the National Center on Education Statistics, the report explores trends in school segregation at the state level, as well as in the Baltimore-Washington CMSA and the metro’s 13 largest school districts. Summaries are also available on the Cumberland and Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City metro areas.  

“While the overall student population in Maryland grows more diverse, the schools are following an opposite path,” said Jennifer Ayscue, lead author of the report and research associate at The Civil Rights Project. “With segregation reaching its highest levels in decades, Maryland faces a decision as to whether it will revive its efforts at desegregation through strong leadership and thoughtful, collaborative planning or accept segregation and the inequity that accompanies it.”

The report provides multiple recommendations for creating and maintaining integrated schools. These recommendations include promoting collaboration between fair housing efforts and school policies, altering school choice plans to ensure they promote diversity, supporting communities that are experiencing racial change and resegregation by helping them create voluntary desegregation plans, and recruiting a more diverse teaching staff while training current teachers and administrators. 

“Maryland has become an extremely diverse state without any plan for successfully managing its diversity,” said Professor Gary Orfield, co-director of the Civil Rights Project. “This pattern of deepening racial and economic stratification means that the state and its communities need a plan to ensure an equitable future, one that includes stable housing and school integration policies where possible, more good regional magnet alternatives, and strong positive race relations in its schools.”

For decades, The Civil Rights Project has monitored the success of American schools in equalizing opportunity in a changing society and has been the authoritative source for segregation statistics. This report is the second in a series on school segregation trends in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States.

To read the report and the three metro summaries, go to this link

About The Civil Rights Project at UCLA

Founded in 1996 by former Harvard professors Gary Orfield and Christopher Edley, Jr., The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles is now co-directed by Orfield and Patricia Gándara, professors at UCLA. Its mission is to create a new generation of research in social science and law on the critical issues of civil rights and equal opportunity for racial and ethnic groups in the United States. It has commissioned more than 400 studies, published more than 15 books and issued numerous reports from authors at universities and research centers across the country.


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