of applying a CRT lens to this analysis, the nexus between the challenges faced by African
American youth in the education system and the child welfare system becomes even clearer.
Plenty of research exists discussing the barriers African American foster youth face in
education generally. However, in order to specifically identify the local needs of African
American foster youth, more complete and accurate data needs to be collected throughout
Maryland. It is also important to note that there is a lack of research addressing the issues of
academic achievement among African American female youth not only in Maryland, but
nationally as well. Much of the discourse relies heavily on studies focusing on African American
male youth in foster care. 113 Furthermore, Maryland’s state plan recently approved by the U.S.
Department of Education includes a requirement for disaggregated data collection for a subgroup
of foster youth in Maryland. This data collection will be the first step in being able to target
educational improvements for African American foster youth. 114 For the most thorough data
collection, the disaggregated subgroups should include race, gender, and socioeconomic status
within the category of child welfare involvement.
Another major component of critical race theory is the assertion that African Americans
have a unique voice in describing their experiences as part of a marginalized group navigating
various systems in the United States. 115 African American foster youth sharing their personal
experiences could play an important role in contributing to the development of policies and
programs to achieve educational stability and to improve academic achievement.
As an attorney in Maryland representing children in the child welfare system, I can recount
numerous stories of African American youth who struggled in school due to some factor relating
to their status as a foster child. There were clients who demonstrated difficulty conforming their
behavior in school as a result of issues with anger and impulse control, often leading to fights or
bullying with disciplinary consequences that impacted their education. Some clients were even
subjected to bullying because of their status as foster children, causing them anxiety about
attending certain classes, or about attending school at all. Other clients displayed an overall sense
of hopelessness based upon their individual and unique experiences. This feeling of hopelessness
oftentimes stemmed from a lack of support from their biological family and/or foster family in
conjunction with several placement changes, which resulted in school transfers and interrupted
any existing school support system. 116
Additionally, African American foster youth regularly deal with incidences of bias in the
form of various stereotypes based upon race. African American foster youth’s behavior is often
criminalized, and they tend to suffer harsher discipline for exhibiting behavior symptomatic of
severe trauma. 117 They are frequently disregarded in school and do not receive the assistance
needed because they are both African American and a foster youth. 118
In an article titled “Students on the Margins-Margins: A Critical Examination of Research
on African American Foster Youth in Higher Education,” Kenyon L. Whitman delivers a very
113 See generally Sandles & Magdaleno, supra note 5, at 3.
114 See generally Maryland Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Consolidated State Plan, supra note 92; U.S. DEP’T
OF EDUC., Secretary DeVos Approves Maryland’s ESSA State Plan (Jan. 16, 2018), https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/secretary-devos-approves-marylands-essa-state-plan.
115 DELGADO & STEFANCIC, supra note 6.
116 Sandles & Magdaleno, supra note 5, at 4.
117 Id.; Whitman, supra note 11, at 47-54; American Institute for Research, supra note 97, at 1, 10-11, 14.
118 Sandles & Magdaleno, supra note 5, at 4; Whitman, supra note 11, at 47-54; American Institute for Research,
supra note 97, at 1, 10-11, 14.