Within integrated schools, de facto segregation persists
They were classmates and best friends, and they both wanted to get into the 11th-grade Advanced Placement English class at Columbia's Hammond High School.
Since meeting in summer school just before ninth grade, Mikey Peterson and Eli Sauerwalt had been through a lot together. They'd each battled depression, they'd failed classes, they'd encouraged each other to do better.
As 10th-graders in English, the teens were each hoping for a prized recommendation to the AP English class for their junior year.
Eli had doubts about whether AP English was for him. His attendance had been poor, and he had barely passed some assignments. But for the teacher, he said, it was never even a question.
You can do this, he recalled her saying. This is what you should do.
Mikey also asked his teacher about AP English. Despite failing several assignments, he believed he could thrive in a more competitive environment.
Her response, as he remembered it: Do you really want to do that to yourself?
The following fall, Eli, who is white, enrolled in AP English. "I was always kind of told I belonged," he said.
Mikey, who is black, enrolled in regular English. "That's where the black kids are," he said.
Howard County is the most integrated school district in the region, according to the Maryland Equity Project of the University of Maryland. Children of different races — especially those who are black and white — are more likely to sit next to each other in Howard than almost anywhere else in the state.
But within that diversity, school leaders have uncovered a de facto system of segregation.
Enrollment data obtained by The Baltimore Sun through a public records request shows that the district's advanced classes — honors, gifted and talented, and AP — are disproportionately white, while the regular and remedial classes are disproportionately black.
There are twice as many white students as black students in Howard schools. But demographics alone doesn't explain the disparities.
In elementary school, nearly five times as many white students as black students are enrolled in gifted and talented courses. In middle school, it's nearly four times as many.
By high school, where the menu of advanced classes expands to include honors, the gaps persist, with twice as many white students in honors classes and three times as many in Within integrated schools, de facto segregation persists - Baltimore Sun: