Area school districts evolving

December 16, 1992|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

The racial change in Baltimore County's Liberty Road corridor revealed in the 1990 census is still under way, according to the county's annual school minority enrollment report, which shows an increasing number of predominantly black schools in the area.

Three more Randallstown area schools reported minority enrollments over 50 percent for the first time this year.

Overall, 21 of the 52 schools in the county's two western districts now have minority enrollments over 50 percent, compared to 11 schools in 1980.

Outside of those districts, only only one school out of 88 -- Hillendale Elementary east of Towson -- has a majority nonwhite enrollment.

While activists in the black community have expressed concern about the county's attention to minority students, there is little support for redrawing school boundary lines to address the imbalances.

Dunbar Brooks, the only black on the school board and a leader of the county NAACP, said that the school system can't change the trend, which is rooted in housing patterns.

"To try to turn that [housing pattern] by changing school district lines would be social engineering," he said.

"That shouldn't be done by the school board. That would only open a Pandora's box."

School Superintendent Stuart Berger said that "certainly one of my goals is integration," but he cautioned that "forced" plans to achieve integration just haven't worked in the past.

"Some gentle things, we can do," he said, such as his plans for magnet schools that will draw students from a wide area.

The report is prepared annually by school officials to document the racial composition of county schools for federal and state governments.

The changes are the latest in a pattern that developed during the 1970s as Baltimore's black middle-class began moving out of Baltimore and up the Liberty Road corridor.

Between 1980 and 1990, the black population increased by 60 percent, to 85,000, and new black residents accounted for virtually all of Baltimore County's 5 percent population gain.

The black families who moved in also tended to be younger than the county's general population, which is now the oldest in the metropolitan area.

As a result, while blacks now account for 12 percent of the county's total population, black students represent 20.4 percent of its school enrollment.

The total minority population in the county schools is 24.6 percent, the enrollment report said.

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