Why NAACP opposes Marchione Baltimore County schools not reaching minority students

March 17, 1996|By Bernetha George

The Baltimore County Chapter of the NAACP opposed the selection of Anthony G. Marchione to head the county schools. The Sun invited the NAACP and Dr. Marchione to comment on the controversy. Dr. Marchione declined. THE BALTIMORE County Branch of the NAACP, in keeping with its purpose to improve the educational status of minority groups, took a position regarding the status of African-American youngsters in the Baltimore County School system.

Although African-American students were singled out, the condition of most minority students in the Baltimore County school system is dismal. Since 1989, the school system has published a report, called the "MAPS" report, disclosing all of the statistics generated from all schools regarding minority achievement and Bernetha George, M.D., is the vice president of the Baltimore County Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. participation. Anyone reading these public reports can readily see that minority students are not measuring up. If one looks at these reports in a comparative manner, the participation and achievement of minority students is worsening.

Though all are showing signs of decline, the minority students (male African-Americans especially) are not meeting state standards for passing math in the ninth grade on the Maryland Functional Tests. African-American males have not met state standards for passing since the tests began. The much-talked-about Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP) shows that minorities consistently lag 10 to 15 percentage points behind others, with male African-Americans again showing the lowest rate of satisfactory performance.

When it was determined that Dr. Stuart L. Berger was leaving the xTC system, the NAACP was certain that his replacement would come equipped with the knowledge and skills to attack these pervasive problems. Reversing this trend requires one experienced in resolving problems that come with rapid demographic changes.

In Baltimore County, there has been and there continues to be a rapid increase in the number of minorities entering the school system for the first time. Along with increases in minority students, there has been a massive turnover in the staffs of the schools that minorities attend in high proportion. A public report from the superintendent of schools to the board in January disclosed that " many of the schools with either disadvantaged or high minority populations also have a high proportion of new teachers who, while energetic and dedicated, do not have the benefit of years of classroom experience which would equip them for the challenges they face." This increasing population with the resulting overcrowding, coupled with the placement of inexperienced teachers there, create an environment that is not conducive to successfully educating anystudent. The creation of conditions that produce poor student achievement is not in keeping with the goals and strategies adopted by the system seven years ago as outlined in the MAPS report of 1989.

One goal adopted stated that the system would implement the system-wide priority of increasing minority participation and achievement in all facets of the educational program and pursue the realization of this goal in an aggressive and consistent manner.

Most recent data from the 1994-1995 MAPS report show that the Baltimore County schools hired 115 minority professionals. During this same period, they hired 1,006 non-minority professionals. These numbers do not reflect any aggressiveness on the part of this system to increase minority participation in the work force facet of the educational program, which is currently only 9 percent to 11 percent.

When one looks at the participation of minorities in the education programs with high academic requirements, though they make up 30 percent of total enrollment, they make up only 6 percent to 8 percent of the middle school gifted and talented program and only 1 percent to 5 percent of the high school gifted and talented program. These numbers also show a lack of aggressiveness on the part of the system to increase minority participation in the academic facet of the education program. The system has, however, performed in a "consistent manner" over the years, in that it continues to produce "failure" relative to minority students and "decline" for all students.

In the area of special education, minorities participate in numbers comparable to their total enrollment of 30 percent. However, in the mentally retarded disability category, minority participation is 40 percent (10 percentage points higher than total enrollment).

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