Monday, December 3, 2018

Testimony to NYC City Council Education Committee About Discrimination in School Sports




My name is Dr Mark Naison. I am a professor of African American Studies and History at Fordham who has written extensively on Race and Sports in US History. But more important, for purposes of this hearing, I was a graduate of New York City public schools who ended up as captain and number 1 singles player on the Columbia University tennis team, and who had two children, Sara and Eric, who attended New York public schools and played varsity tennis and baseball at Yale University, None of us would have had that opportunity had not we played on public school teams in middle school and high school. It is simply unconscionable that many students in New York City public schools, the vast majority of whom are Black and LatinX, attend schools which have a tiny number of school teams or no teams at all.

Not only does an absence of school teams undermine student morale and academic engagement, it maximizes discrimination against Black and LatinX students in college admissions. As James Shulman and William Bowen point out in their book "The Game of Life: College Sports and Educational Values" being a recruited athlete is the single most powerful admissions advantage in getting into the nation's top colleges, having more than twice the impact of being an under represented minority or a child of an alumnus. Since 20 percent of students at Yale, Harvard and Princeton, and 40 percent of students at Williams, are recruited athletes, lacking access to sports puts Black and LatinX students in New York City at an added disadvantage to those they already experience due to race and class

As my mandated two minutes of testimony comes to a close, let me talk about a specific school where this criminal denial of educational opportunity takes place. On the Roosevelt Educational Campus across the street from Fordham, there are five high schools which have no men's and women's soccer teams, even though a good portion of their students come from West African and Central American countries where soccer is the major sport, What this means is that there is a whole generation of future Fordham, Columbia and Yale students in the Bronx, students who only differ from me and my children in race and class, whose talents and opportunities are being suppressed because of lack of access to athletic teams

This discrimination has to stop NOW. Every New York City public high school student must have, at the very minimum, opportunity to play on school teams, in soccer, tennis, track and field, baseball and softball,  baketball, volleyball, and swimming, Until that happens, New York City is not only out of compliance with Title Six of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is out of touch with the egalitarian values this City claims to stand for to the nation and the world

Co-Signatures

Jerome Krase, Ph.D.
Emeritus and Murray Koppelman Professor
Brooklyn College
 
Former Football, Baseball and Track Team Member, Brooklyn Technical High School 1956-1960

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