Baum, Howell S.
Brown in Baltimore: School Desegregation and the Limits of Liberalism
University of Maryland
1) What was the trajectory of integration in Baltimore schools? 2) What structures and ideologies fueled rampant school resegregation?
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Brown in Baltimore: School Desegregation and the Limitations of Liberalism
- The history of Baltimore’s school segregation over the decades indicates both housing policies that segregated neighborhoods as well as school board policies that permitted ‘Freedom Choice’ attendance plans created structures that enabled schools to become segregated.
- In 1987 most Blacks suffered from attending segregated schools that were “separate and unequal”. City schools were 80 percent Black, a mirror image of the same district that was 75 percent White in 1937. Although the school system was characterized by segregation, the school board adopted an individualistic remedy to this institutional problem.
- The school board's free choice attendance policies avoided direct explicit intervention in school racial makeup, limiting the effect of desegregation and contributing to White flight.
- The school board created an enrollment market that put students in competition for specific schools.
- As late as 1972, when enrollment was 70 percent Black, a majority of Black students attended schools that were 90 percent Black.
Two thirds of White students attended schools that were at least 80 percent White and half were in schools that were at least 90 percent White. Moreover, even when White and Black students were in the same school tracking often kept them apart.
- Whites left the city schools for several reasons. The first reason was the GI Bill let returning soldiers buy suburban homes. Federal Housing Administration discrimination ensured that the suburbs would be White.
- The first decline in White enrollment was modest (Less than 2% annually from 1957 to 1954).
- ‘Freedom Choice’ contributed to White departure. The desegregation policy avoided dealing with race and increasing racial anxiety that encouraged Whites to leave the school districts.
Achievement Gap, Brown vs Board of Education, Communities, Long Term Outcomes, Milliken v. Bradley, Occupational Outcomes, Racial Composition, Segregation, White Flight
Method of Analysis:
Baltimore School District
Unit of Analysis:
- Historical Analysis of Baltimore School System, including economic, political factors spanning from the 17th century to the present day.