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Maryland:  Prince Georges County Racial Preferences and Quotas in Education

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Prince Georges County, Maryland

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Prince Georges County School Officials Continue to Use Defunct Forced-Busing Policies to Deny White Children Access to Desirable Magnet School

          Sharon Krosel and other parents of "non-black" school children in Prince Georges County are angry.  Outmoded "anti-segregation, forced-busing" policies in this majority black county are being used by school officials to keep non-black children out of some of the county's best schools, while black children living in the same neighborhoods are openly invited to attend the best middle school.

          Krosel and other parents presented their concerns at the PG school board meeting on Tuesday, July 2, 2002.

          Even though the courts have declared an end to forced busing in Prince Georges County, the busing-era racial preferences seem to be hanging on.  Even though the majority of the county's school children are black, parents like Sharon Krosel have been told by the school district that only black children were to be allowed the choice of attending Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Beltsville which is the highest scoring middle school in all of Maryland.

"I am not a racist, but I believe in true equality - putting one race above another does nothing more than perpetuate the problem and perpetuate the anger and resentment felt between the races.

"We cannot achieve equality while we are giving any one race preferential treatment to the detriment of the other races and ethnicities." -- Sharon Krosel, mother of white PG County student.*

Educational Choices Offered by "Diversity-Sensitive" Prince Georges Officials (Summer 2002)
51 Paint Branch Elementary Students by Race/Ethnicity: Middle School Magnet Choices Offered by PG Educators:
34 black TWO Choices Offered:

(1) M.L. King Jr. Middle School (highest scoring middle school in Maryland);

(2) Nicholas Orem Middle School (on state watch list for poor performance)

17 white and other non-black ONE Choice Only Offered:

Nicholas Orem Middle School (on state watch list for poor performance)

Note: As of this report, 1 of the 17 "non-black" students has been allowed the choice to transfer to the top-rated M.L. King Middle School on a Latin language transfer.  The other 16 students still are being offered only the "state watch list school" (Nicholas Orem Middle School).

          According to the Washington Post: "In March, the 34 black students in her [Krosel's] son's elementary school magnet program received letters from the school system inviting them to enroll in the highly coveted Beltsville school [the M.L. King, Jr. school] this fall.

          "But Edward Krosel, who is white, and 16 other students were informed that the only magnet program open to them was at Nicholas Orem Middle School, a Hyattsville school that is on the watch list for possible state takeover because of poor academic achievement."

          School officials told the Washington Post that the 34 black students were given the additional option of Martin Luther King Jr. because they were needed to diversify the school. [emphasis added].

          Ms. Krosel and other concerned parents filed a protest with Ms. Susan B. Miller of the Magnet Schools Program Office.   The parents believe that their children have been denied equal treatment under the law solely based on their race [non-black].  Ms. Krosel reports that the parents were told that only the black children would be allowed the additional option of attending the prestigious Martin Luther King, Jr. middle school.  She and the other parents were further offended that all other races were clumped together as "Non African American."  Krosel said "Evidently, P. G. County knows only black and white. I should mention that 77% of the school children in this district are African American. Asians, Caucasians, and Hispanics make up the remainder of the children." *

          The parents also filed a written appeal to Dr. Scottie Griffin, Director, Curriculum and Instruction, Prince George's County School Board, and have heard nothing at this writing.*

          Krosel and the other parents of "non-black" children have received a response from Dr. Nancy Grasmick, Superintendent, State of Maryland Department of Education.  Dr. Grasmick indicated she would speak with Susan B. Miller at the Magnet Schools Program Office about the race-based school assignments.*

          The parents have also submitted a "Request for Production of Documents" relating to the race-based denial of school choice for their children.  Subsequently, when the parents received a copy of the PG Magnet School Policy and Procedures manual they found substantial segments missing.   The copy of the manual they received started at page 49.*

          The Washington Post reports:   "Susan B. Miller, director of the magnet schools office, did not respond to requests for an interview. In a letter to Krosel dated May 31, Miller said that the guidelines for placing students in a magnet program are based on a desegregation order to make the specialized programs racially diverse."

          But that desegregation order was lifted by a federal judge last month (June 2002) and is no longer applicable!  As of July 19, 2002 School officials have not commented upon this fact and its relation to their apparently outdated "diversity" policies.

          The Washington Post quoted parent Sharen Krosel as follows:  "The whole magnet program is contradictory to what it was set up to do.  It's created a whole set of inequalities that it was supposed to address."

Conclusion:  Even though forced busing has been ended in PG County schools, even though the county is now majority black, and even though the student body in the county is now super-majority black (77%), Prince Georges County school officials -- either knowingly or through willful ignorance -- appear to be enforcing contradictory policies which clearly limit the number of non-black children who will be allowed to attend certain, highly desirable schools in the system while at the same time actively inviting black children to attend those same desirable schools.

*Correspondence with Adversity.Net by concerned parents

Washington Post 7/7/02 story; last known links to Washington Post story:
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MD Schools to Receive Bounty for Increasing Minority Scores (07/29/99)

          "Maryland's public schools from now on will have to ensure that minority groups of students are progressing as well as the rest of the school to be eligible for cash awards from the state.

          "The Maryland State Department of Education each year rewards schools that show significant improvement for two or more years on the state's school report card, which is based primarily on the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program tests all third, fifth and eighth graders take each spring.

          "Last year 83 public schools, including eight from Prince George's County, shared $2.75 million. All of Prince George's prizes were more than $30,000 each.

          "The problem that concerned educators is that minority students - primarily black and Hispanic students - have not performed as well on the MSPAP tests as white students have.  'We don't want schools to be rewarded only on the basis of white students' performance,' said Mark Moody, assistant state schools superintendent.  'Everybody has to improve.'

          "So the Maryland State Board of Education yesterday changed the rules. Schools receiving awards this fall must be helping their minority populations - defined as 10 or more students in a particular ethnic, racial or other group - progress along with the school's majority, the board voted unanimously."  (The Journal Newspapers, Montgomery County Edition, page A7 by Kristen Klick)
[link http://www.jrnl.com/news/99/Jul/jrn143290799.html ]

Magnet Schools Fail to Attract White Students (11/03/99 - dead link)

          Original Washington Post Headline:   Magnet Schools Fall Short in Prince Georges. 
STORY:  "Prince George's County magnet schools were designed to integrate a racially isolated school system and offer a choice of distinctive programs, some with more rigorous academics, but 13 years after their creation the programs are largely falling short, according to a report.

          "Most are producing no better results on state exams than the rest of the county's schools, and 11 of 28 magnet elementary schools have not attracted enough white students to meet their racial diversity goals, the report said. In many cases, the magnet schools have failed to provide their advertised classes, including one elementary school that was supposed to offer Latin but had no Latin teacher.

          "The magnet school analysis was ordered last summer by a federal judge who ended 26 years of cross-county busing to achieve racial balance in Prince George's schools. School board members and Superintendent Iris T. Metts said they will continue to use magnet programs to promote voluntary integration in a school system that is about 76 percent African American. But they said they also want the programs to emphasize academic achievement and parental involvement.

          "We have to think about changing our [admissions] criteria. The magnet schools were created purely for desegregation, and there was no academic component other than luring people into schools," School Board Vice Chairman Doyle Niemann (Mount Rainier) said. "That should not be the focus anymore. Desegregation is still important, but we need to make sure the programs are academically sound."

          "Currently, students apply to a lottery and are selected to the programs – with the exception of French immersion, fine arts and talented and gifted – based on racial goals, with no academic entry requirements."  [Emphasis added.]  (Washington Post 11/03/99 page B01 by David Nakamura)
[former link **http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/metro/A11929-1999Nov2.html]

Judge Orders End to Forced Busing (09/02/98 - dead link)

          "A federal judge has ordered an end to mandatory busing at Prince George’s County Schools in Maryland, concluding a 26-year effort to achieve racial balance. Transportation Director Ken Savoid praised the decision, saying court-ordered desegregation in the Washington, D.C., suburb no longer makes sense. 'It’s costly and serves no purpose,'  he said.

          " 'When busing started in 1973, what you basically saw was busloads of white and black kids passing each other,'   Savoid said.  'Now you see only black kids passing each other. They’re going from one predominantly black neighborhood to a school in another predominantly black neighborhood.'

          "The agreement approved by U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte phases out mandatory busing over the next six years and calls for the construction of 13 neighborhood schools and the refurbishing of existing ones. Beginning next year, students will begin returning to neighborhood schools, though they will have the option of staying in their current schools."  (School Bus News, 09/02/98)
[former link *http://www.schoolbusfleet.com/News/nws090298.htm ]


Prince George's County to Pay $500,000 to the NAACP  (03/09/99 - dead)
          Nice work if you can get it.   In honor of ending court ordered school busing in this Maryland suburb of Washington, DC, Prince George's County has agreed to pay $500,000 in legal fees which the NAACP incurred in fighting against the county.  Black, democratic County Executive Wayne Curry had been prepared to spend up to $2 million to resolve the case.  Said council member Walter H. Maloney "There was no justification for it" and that payment to the NAACP sends a message that the county is a "cash cow" for other litigants, according to the Washington Post. 

          In addition, the county spent $638,000 on its own law firm as well as $99,557 to two expert witnesses.  (Washington Post, 03/09/99, page B04, by Jackie Spinner)
[former link *http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1999-03/09/089l-030999-idx.html]

END of Prince Georges County, Maryland - Racial Quotas in Education

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