A new report says Maryland's Historically Black Institutions (HBI) have been historically underfunded by the state and more money has to be invested in Black schools if they are going to compete fully with Traditionally White Institutions, (TWI).
"There are many indicators that suggest that substantial additional resources must be invested in HBIs to overcome the competitive disadvantages caused by prior discriminatory treatment," the study said.
The 34-page report was compiled by The Panel on the Comparability and Competitiveness of Historically Black Institutions in Maryland, a group of six national educators chosen by the state to study the funding issues of Black institutions of higher education in Maryland.
"Indeed, one can reasonably assume that had the state consistently treated HBIs over their lifespan in a manner comparable to the treatment of TWIs, the HBIs would currently be competitive with other public institutions in these and other aspects of their operations both at the undergraduate and doctoral levels," the report observed.
Earl Richardson, president of Morgan State University, said he and the other presidents of Maryland HBIs feel "vindicated" by the report. "The report of the Historically Black Institution (HBI) study group has the potential for changing the landscape of higher education in Maryland," said Richardson in a statement. "First, it candidly concedes that because of past discriminatory practices, there continues to be great disparities in resources of Black institutions when compared to our White institutions. More importantly, the report establishes a framework for addressing the disparities."
The report also indicates HBIs, unlike TWIs, bear the added burden, "to provide strong programs in developmental education to ensure access and success to students, mostly from low-income families, who otherwise would not have an opportunity to pursue a bachelor's degree.
The HBIs are not funded at appropriate levels to carry out both parts of this mission at once," the report states.
"Because of past discriminatory practices, there continues to be great disparities in resources of Black institutions."
The inequality has implications for the future.
"Given the rapidly changing demographics in the state and the great disparity that continues to exist between bachelor degree attainment levels of white compared with black residents of the state, the HBIs are providing an invaluable service to the state in its commitment to helping underserved students, and in preparing African Americans for the Maryland workforce," the report noted.
In the 2006-2007 school year, Morgan produced more Bachelor's degrees (821) than any other HBI in the state, followed by Bowie State University with 621 Bachelor's degrees.
"Few, if any states have voluntarily submitted themselves to an analysis of comparability between the HBIs and Traditionally White Institutions in their statewide systems of higher education," stated Richardson. "It is obviously a very thorny issue, and the state of Maryland should be commended for its leadership in commissioning the report."
But the report does not discuss how or when the state plans to more fully fund Maryland HBIs in order for them to fulfill their mission to educate students and become more comparable and competitive with their White counterparts.
"It's going to take us a while to beat on them based on the fiscal crisis that we're enduring, but I think ultimately…ultimately we will get it," said Sen. Joan Carter Conway, who represents the 43rd legislative district of Baltimore and is chair of the Senate's Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. "We probably won't get it as fast as we would like it."