Outrage is growing over disparities in a Maryland school district’s gifted students program, reports the Washington Post.
Blacks and Hispanics comprise more than 50 percent of Montgomery County’s public school population. But a report found that schools for gifted students in the county are mainly White, Asian, and upper-income.
At those high schools, the acceptance rate is 45 percent White and 39 percent Asian–compared to just 23 percent Hispanic, 19 percent African-American, and 11 percent low-income.
Actual enrollment at the elementary schools was 47 percent White, 34 percent Asian, 8 percent African-American, 8 percent low-income, and 4 percent Hispanic during the 2013-2014 school year, the Post reports.
“It is outrageous. There are great inequities in terms of access. The majority of our families don’t even know these programs exist,” Diego Uriburu, co-chair of the Montgomery County Latino Advocacy Coalition, told the Washington Post.
The chairman of the county’s NAACP education committee, Byron Johns, told the Post that school officials should act immediately to correct the systemic inequality, which has affected generations of students.
Columbia University professor Jeffrey Henig explained the perplexities of achieving school diversity to the Washington Post.
At the core is a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision that prohibits schools from considering race in the admission process. To avoid lawsuits, school officials tend to rely on academic achievements and test scores when making admission decisions.
Henig told the Washington Post, “They use those metrics because they appear to be objective indicators. But for various historical reasons, those same metrics may favor White and more-affluent kids.”
Meanwhile, county school officials are responding, in part, by pointing out that school districts nationwide are also struggling to achieve diversity. They’ve scheduled meetings with the community to discuss the issue.
As for solutions, the report calls for better communication to inform families about gifted programs. Other recommendations include selecting the top students from all schools in the county and expanding the definition of gifted to include non-academic skills, the Post reports.
SOURCE: Washington Post | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty