Scholarship Discrimination

August 22, 1993

Members of the Maryland General Assembly are guilty of scholarship discrimination: They hand out far more legislative scholarships to white students than to minority students. Compared to the distribution of financial aid under the state's general scholarship program, the record of our elected senators and delegates in awarding college stipends to minorities is embarrassing.

House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell and Senate President

Thomas V. Mike Miller ought to pay careful attention to the demographic scholarship distribution for the past fiscal year just released by the Maryland Higher Education Commission. The numbers represent a stunning indictment of the senatorial and the House of Delegates financial aid programs.

And black members of the legislature, especially in the Senate, should be called to account for defending the abominable performance of General Assembly members in handing out scholarships to minority students. After all, they are the ones who blocked a House-passed bill to abolish political scholarships earlier this year with the lame excuse that blacks make out better under their program than under the general scholarship awards.

That's not true. Last year, nearly 40 percent more blacks won general scholarships than won senatorial scholarships; nearly 87 percent more blacks won general scholarships than won House of Delegates awards. Overall, more than 52 percent of the general scholarship money went to non-white students while legislators limited minority scholarships to 40 percent of their awards.

Looked at another way, had the legislative awards been abolished and the $7 million distributed under the general scholarship program (based primarily on need), an additional 1,600 minority students would have gained $1 million more in financial aid.

Legislative scholarships are clearly political perks that senators, in particular, relish. They make wonderful rewards for children of friends, relatives and political supporters. Yet black senators no longer can hide behind the excuse that the state's main financial-aid program is discriminatory. It's the other way around. Abolish the political scholarships and more needy minorities will benefit. The proof is in the statistics.

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