'Miles to Go' for equality Report: A new study indicates that Southern public colleges have many promises to keep before they become adequately integrated.

The Education Beat

August 26, 1998|By Mike Bowler | Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION is taking its licks these days, but a new report shows public colleges in Southern states are losing ground in providing access and opportunity to African-Americans.

The report, issued yesterday by the Southern Education Foundation in Atlanta, says that by virtually all measures, efforts to desegregate higher education are lagging in the 19 states, including Maryland, that once operated dual higher education systems.

Among highlights of the report, titled "Miles to Go":

* Public higher education continues to be segregated in practice, if not by law. While in 1996 blacks accounted for 20 percent of the 18- to-24-year-old population, they made up only 8.6 percent of first-year students at flagship universities.

* The 19 states provide significantly more financial aid without concern for students' family income than the rest of the states.

* The relatively small flow of African-Americans entering the higher education pipeline practically dries up in graduate and professional schools.

* Black professors are substantially underrepresented in all of the formerly segregated states.

* Comparatively, Maryland comes out well in the report. The percentage of African-American freshmen in the Free State trails only slightly the percentage of black high school graduates (28.8 percent to 29.8 percent), and the University of Maryland, College Park and Bowie State University are mentioned, with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, for "promising practices" such as UMBC's Meyerhoff scholarship program.

But "Miles to Go" puts the lie to those who claim so much progress has been made that affirmative action is no longer needed.

Resistance to school choice is eroding, poll finds

Also out yesterday: the 30th annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll of the public's attitudes toward public schools.

The latest poll shows that public resistance to school choice is eroding.

In response to a question asked four times this decade, the public for the first time favors (51 percent to 45 percent) allowing parents to send their children to private schools if the "government pays all or part of the tuition."

That represents a reversal of opinion from two years ago. Last year, opinion was evenly divided.

2 architects of city system move on to new roles

As Baltimore students head back to school, two of the architects of the new-look city school system are moving on.

Bonnie Copeland is the first to leave the school board appointed 13 months ago as the first major act of the city-state education "partnership."

Copeland, the board's vice president, isn't defecting voluntarily. This summer, she married Robert Lazarewicz, executive director of operations for Howard County schools, and she's moving to her husband's home in Ellicott City. (Board members must live in the city.)

Copeland, whose paid job is executive vice presidency of the Greater Baltimore Committee, said that after an eventful and at times traumatic first year, board members remain "about as close as nine people can be. We became a family and experienced the joys and sorrows -- there were deaths

among the families, for instance -- the way a family would."

What surprised Copeland, she said, wasn't the public scrutiny -- reporters' calls at midnight, angry testimony at open board meetings -- but rather "the amount of time doing operational things. I wasn't quite prepared for 30-hour weeks, and we had to meet 795 deadlines, or so it seemed."

Her primary accomplishment: "We put together a strategic plan that isn't just a pile of paper that will end up on a shelf somewhere. It's an accomplishment that we could put the pieces in place in only a year's time."

Work left undone: "We haven't found an effective way to deal with disruptive kids who make life miserable for our teachers and administrators, and we have a long, long way to go in special education, though we've made some progress." She added: "To me, the glass is half full."

Chris Lambert, the system's director of planning and policy during the 13-month "interim" of Robert Schiller, is also moving on. While helping to write the city school master plan, Lambert took education courses at College of Notre Dame of Maryland.

Next week he'll begin work as a middle-school social studies teacher at Unseld's School in Southwest Baltimore. "I just figured if God intended me to be a teacher, here's my shot," said Lambert, a lawyer who worked previously for Advocates for Children and Youth and helped fashion the city's new teacher evaluation plan.

This just in: no news from the world of academe

The Chronicle of Higher Education provides a daily online news service to subscribers.

On Friday, the Chronicle announced: "There are no news bulletins for Thursday, Aug. 20, because, as far as we can determine, nothing of note happened yesterday in academe. Perhaps everyone is distracted by other recent events."

Pub Date: 8/26/98

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