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Maryland HBCUs Win Lawsuit To End Inequality In Funding

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Historically Black Colleges and Universities, collectively known as HBCUs have existed for decades and throught their rich legacies, the institutions have long been underfunded.  Alumni of Bowie State University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Coppin State University and Morgan State University joined forces to combat the disparities in funding between their HBCUS and their non-HBCU counterparts.

The coalition formed in 2006 presented the issues of racial biases in school funding, allleging the state of Maryland underfunded HBCUs while allowing other state schools to duplicate academic programs, causing enrollment tension.  This past week, a judge ordered in favor of the coalition, ruling that  “The state must establish a set of new, unique and high-demand programs at each historically black institution” as reported by the Washington Post.

Maryland will now have to appoint a monitor who will oversee the development of programs depended on the strengths of each institution.  This appointed monitor will direct “will be able to provide annual funding for marketing, student recruitment, financial aid and any related initiative over the next five to 10 years” according to the order. 

U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake ruled in the coalition’s favor and issued an injunction against that state that puts an end to “maintaining vestiges of the prior . . . system of segregation in the form of unnecessary program duplication in the public higher education system.”

HBCUs have historically existed and remain standing as campuses providing opportunities to many young adults who would not be afforded the privilege of higher education elsewhere. HBCUs grant more degrees to lower income black students than non-HBCUs.  These insitutions full of tradition and pride are also responsible for 40% of black members of congress, 80% of black judges, 50% of black lawyers and 40% of black engineers. 

Despite the success of HBCU alumni, HBCUs across the country are plagued by lesser funds.  Diverse Education reports “a September 2013 report published by the Association of Public Land-grant Universities (APLU) found that, from 2010 to 2012, states were failing to meet the required 100 percent match of federal funding to 1890 land-grant institutions (all public HBCUs). In the same period, the 18 HBCUs covered under this provision did not receive almost $57 million in extension or research fees, as a result of the failure of the states to provide the required funds.”

“The remedial order issued by the court is truly historic and places Maryland on a long overdue path to achieving racial desegregation and more equitable outcomes for students,” says Kristen Clarke the president and executive director for the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law , also a party to the case.







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