Historically black colleges struggle to compete

Graduates cheer as First Lady Michelle Obama delivers the commencement speech during the Bowie State University, a historically black college, graduation ceremony on May 17, 2013 in College Park, Maryland.

There are 105 historically black colleges and universities in the U.S., and some of those schools are having trouble competing for students.

In Maryland, a federal judge says that’s because traditionally white schools are duplicating some of the most popular degree programs, and her ruling this week could affect schools in other states. It says Maryland’s historically black colleges and universities are more segregated today than they were toward the end of the Civil Rights Era.

Attorney Michael Jones represents the group of alumni who sued the state’s Higher Education Commission for letting white schools outcompete.

“It is shocking and shameful that in 2013 a federal judge has to step in and make these decisions, but that’s the reality,” Jones says.

There are similar active or pending cases in Oklahoma, Georgia, Louisiana and Ohio, according to Lezli Baskerville, president of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education.

“It reaffirms the value of historically black colleges and universities to today’s economy, today’s labor force,” Baskerville explains.

Baskerville adds that the country’s historically black colleges and universities have an economic impact of more than $13 billion dollars.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...