Washington, D.C.—Brown’s Promise today filed an amicus brief urging the Appellate Court of Maryland to give Baltimore City students a fair shot at an equal education by reversing last year’s circuit court ruling in Bradford v. Maryland State Board of Education. The Advancement Project also joined the brief.
For decades, the State of Maryland has underinvested in the Baltimore City Public School System (BCPSS), diminishing educational opportunities for Black, Brown, and low-income students while exacerbating generational economic disparities.
Most BCPSS students attend schools and live in neighborhoods that—as a result of federal, state, and local policies— are among the most racially and socioeconomically isolated in the country. The disparities in educational resources resulting from the State’s failure to provide BCPSS students with an adequate education exacerbate the effects of racial and socioeconomic segregation in Baltimore. The fact that BCPSS primarily serves Black and Brown students and existence of deep segregation in BCPSS is not news—yet the State has repeatedly failed to adequately fund BCPSS at a level that would allow BCPSS’s predominantly Black and Brown students to have access to the resources and opportunities available to students in whiter, wealthier districts.
The newly filed amicus brief urges the appellate court to consider the “substantial amount of evidence demonstrating that the State’s lack of investment has resulted in most BCPSS students experiencing a markedly inadequate education.” The civil rights organizations argue that the State has failed to provide an adequate education to BCPSS students and this has contributed to inferior classroom experiences for a system that is predominantly composed of Black, Brown, and low-income students. Further, the brief highlights the federal, state, and local policies that have led to BCPSS becoming a deeply racially isolated school district where more than two thirds of students attend schools that are between 80% and 100% Black.
The brief argues:
The State has facilitated a system that isolates the predominantly Black and Brown students of BCPSS into schools of concentrated poverty and then, to add insult to injury, has failed to provide students with the resources needed to overcome the challenges of going to such schools. Today, Maryland is neither funding education adequately in the system it has facilitated nor is it taking steps to dismantle and desegregate the system. The State must meet its obligation to provide an adequate education to all the students living in Baltimore City by infusing sufficient resources to the district, including resources to allow for the deconcentration of poverty and meaningful and equitable opportunities for integration between BCPSS students and students from other districts in the region.
“A quality education sets the foundation for a child’s future, and resources matter. By shortchanging Baltimore’s students year after year, decade after decade Maryland is sending an unacceptable message that the dreams of Black, Brown, and low-income students simply don’t carry equal value,” said Brown’s Promise co-founder Saba Bireda.
Research suggests that districts and schools serving students from high concentrations of poverty should be spending 2-3x as much per pupil than areas with low poverty. Evidence from studies done in California, where funding significantly increased for high poverty districts, showed significant improvements in student outcomes and achievement.
“Clear evidence shows that when funding is aligned with need, students can thrive,” said Brown’s Promise co-founder Ary Amerikaner. “By segregating Black and Brown students in persistently underfunded schools, the state of Maryland is doing the exact opposite of what we know works.”
“This is a matter of racial justice for Baltimore City students. The impacts of the State’s chronic failures are abysmal, resulting in deficiencies in sufficient, high-quality educators, support staff, facilities, and all the resources necessary for students to be safe, learn, and thrive,” said Katherine Dunn, program director at the Advancement Project. “We applaud the Plaintiffs for their courageous efforts to hold the State accountable and call on the Court to ensure justice for the young people of Baltimore City.”
The Bradford v. Maryland State Board of Education case was filed in 1994 by the ACLU with the intent to hold the State accountable for adequate school funding and resources. Today, it is being litigated by the Legal Defense Fund and BakerHostetler alongside ACLU of Maryland. The case remains open nearly 30 years later.
Hosted at Southern Education Foundation, Brown’s Promise is fighting to advance educational equity through integration. Brown’s Promise combines research, litigation, advocacy, collaboration, and communications to create schools where children from all backgrounds learn together in excellent, well-resourced, diverse environments led by diverse educators. To learn more about Brown’s Promise, visit www.brownspromise.org/about