One of the most important factors in a city's continued growth or future outlook is the education level of it's residents. Not only does a well educated city bring a multitude of jobs but it can also help bring people out of poverty. That is why it is disheartening to know that some many Baltimore City High school students (89% of whom are black) are not getting into Maryland's most well known colleges such as the University of Maryland (UMD) of Johns Hopkins University (JHU).
The Baltimore Sun recently wrote an article titled, City students find UM, Hopkins out of reach, detailing the scholarship programs that UMD and JHU give to city high school students to increase enrollment for city schools. While the respective programs have gotten a few students into JHU and UMD that have graduated the overall numbers are dismal. Only 13 students from Johns Hopkins Baltimore Scholars programs were taken from Baltimore City schools last year.
Local colleges do face significant uphill challenges in trying to recruit city high school students. Such as this sobering statistic, "For every 100 students who enter Baltimore City high schools, just four will graduate college within six years of starting." As well as, "More than half of city high schools do not offer advanced placement courses - staples of the curriculum for students going to top colleges."
Another significant factor that students face in applying to these schools is the cost to go to these institutions. Johns Hopkins is often out of reach for most middle class families but for working class families and those struggling to pay the bills, an annual price tag of $53,000 to go to JHU puts the college out of reach even with standard scholarships and loans.
These factors lead to a scenario where most city high school graduates can not even make the admission process for these colleges and those that do can not afford to go unless the college pays for their tuition, room and board, books and other fees. Once you add in the culture shock of city high school students coming from predominately black schools to institutions that are majority white and almost exclusively upper class it creates another barrier that deter city students. The article states:
"The pattern was that the state's greatest city was sending very few students to the state's flagship university," Mote said. "Many of the high schools send nobody at all. The pipeline between those schools and the university was broken, and once the pipeline is broken, the teachers and counselors don't see the opportunity, the kids don't see their friends going, the whole pipeline just breaks down. It's hard to restart."
While academic officials at UMD and JHU are optimistic that the admittance numbers of city high school students will improve there are still a number of barriers blocking future success of the program. Educational, economic and social barriers are nothing new when it comes to the status of inner city residents. But the need for education is now greater than ever. Not only are the most high paying jobs looking for post graduate education but low-to-no skill jobs that never required any education are now seeking high school diplomas. With only 4 out of 100 city high school students graduating in 6 years...what possibly can the 94 be doing in today's job market?
For all the development construction boom in Baltimore, if city schools do not improve there will be a permanent underclass in Baltimore City. An underclass that will be almost entirely supported by government aid and under police surveillance and will fuel future incarcerated populations. The future social and economic cost of this underclass will be tremendous. It will be far easier to educate our children now then it will be to support their survival if they become non productive members of our society in the future.