One-tenth of schools, mostly in city and Prince George’s, are highly segregated; suburbs mostly have diverse schools
At 16, Dorant Wells has experienced the complexities of what Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark school desegregation ruling, has wrought: He attended a middle school full of students of different colors and nationalities, but one where he sometimes felt there were lower expectations for black students.
Now at his nearly all African-American high school, Milford Mill Academy in Baltimore County, he sees value in the special character of the school, while acknowledging he may be less prepared to enter a diverse world. “It keeps us united. We may not agree on everything, but we have each other,” said Dorant.
Sixty years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in 21 states was unconstitutional, diversity is not guaranteed in Maryland’s schools. Ten percent of the schools in Maryland have a high percentage of black students, nearly all of them in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County, according to a Baltimore Sun analysis. And no political or education leaders are recommending a consolidation of suburban and urban districts that experts say would be needed to truly address an imbalance driven largely byneighborhood demographics.
Instead, the struggle for racial integration and educational equality is taking place in the suburbs, where students are learning in increasingly diverse schools.
Students in these more integrated middle and high schools say they relish the multicultural environments. And while they say there are still daily struggles over issues of race and diversity, such conflicts have made them stronger, more resilient and more socially adept.
“I take diversity very seriously,” said Destiny Battle, an African-American eighth-grader at Lansdowne Middle, one of the most diverse schools in Baltimore County. “I like the different races in the classes.”
Students learn, the 14-year-old said, that no race is better than another. In her classes she hears viewpoints that are far different from her own and that sometimes make her reconsider the norms in her own culture.
Maryland has the fifth-largest percentage of black enrollment in the nation, according to the Civil Rights Project at UCLA. On top of that, a stream of Asians, Hispanics and immigrants from across the world has entered Maryland’s public schools in the past decade, and now the majority of students in the state’s schools are a member of a minority race. Whites account for 42 percent of enrollment; blacks are at 35 percent.