The Maryland Institute for Minority Achievement and Urban Education is an academic association, an action-oriented collaborative, and an educational center. Its central goals are the improvement of minority achievement, the elimination of the achievement gap, and the improvement and reform of urban education. The Institute seeks to develop and disseminate basic knowledge and to generate and apply research and expert knowledge to local needs and concerns. It serves as a hub for research and interchange on major questions regarding urban education, minority and majority student learning, policy matters, organizational development, leadership and professional development, and effective school reform, among others. It works in concert with local partners to construct mutually productive efforts to help solve problems and meet urban education challenges. It involves local schools and school systems, post-secondary institutional partners, state and national organizations, and others whose interest and expertise may serve the mission of the Institute and its members.
For moral, civic, and economic reasons, we must improve urban education and minority achievement. While there is much debate about whether there is a crisis in American education, there is no significant doubt about two facts: urban schools perform less successfully than suburban schools and minority students perform less well than non-minority students. If it is to become a national priority that no child be left behind, it is imperative that we focus attention on the interwoven problems of urban school reform and minority achievement. Failure to address these matters will retard economic growth especially in urban areas, exacerbate strains in our civic culture, and frustrate our aspirations to provide equal opportunity for all our children.
Maryland is an ideal place to have such an institute. Maryland’s demographic trends reflect the nation. Two of the five largest Maryland school districts have majority African American populations; the three remaining large districts have minority populations ranging from 18 to 27%; and several districts have sizable Hispanic populations. The state of Maryland, with its strong educational leadership and large county school districts, provides an ideal laboratory for developing, evaluating, and improving strategies to increase minority achievement and improve the performance of urban schools. Moreover, Maryland has become a leader in the standards movement, an approach to school reform that has widespread and bipartisan support. Ensuring that minority populations have the resources needed to meet new rigorous standards is a central issue for Maryland as well as the nation. Maryland has the opportunity to become a national leader in this area as well.