Saturday, May 23, 2015

High School Students in the Bronx Deserve a Full Array of School Teams

During the last year, an organization called NYCLetEmPlay has burst into the public eye by mounting a number of loud and effective protests demanding that high school students of color have the same access to athletic teams as students at the few remaining predominantly white public high schools. The organization, which began at a small South Bronx high school, has eloquently presented the plight of Black and Latino students, mostly from immigrant families, who have been unable to compete in the sports they are skilled in at the high schools they attend. 

   This problem is particularly acute in the Bronx, where almost of the borough's high school have been turned into campuses where 5 or 6 "academies" share a building, and where a large proportion of the students are from first or second generation immigrant families.  The Bronx today, whose population was once predominantly African American, Puerto Rican and West Indian is the site of four new  waves of immigration- one from West Africa, the other from Mexico, the third from the Dominican Republic, the fourth from South Asian nations.  Young people from these groups compose the majority of the student population at many Bronx schools and the sports they are passionate about should be available in the form of interscholastic teams to every student who wants to play on them. Every high school in the Bronx should have boys and girls soccer teams, to represent the African and Mexican students; boys baseball and girls softball, for the Dominican students, and  in the East Bronx, where the South Asian population is represented, schools should have boys and girls cricket.  Along with this, every high school should have a track team.

 This may not seem to be so much to ask for, but right now, these sports are not available to thousands of Bronx high school students who want to compete in them

 This is not only a terrible blow to their morale, it is depriving the best of them of opportunities for college scholarships, or  college admissions advantages, that they could gain though interscholastic competition in sports they are skilled in.

  The New York City Board of Education, and the New York City Council, needs to assure that this denial of rights and opportunities ends NOW. For students in the Bronx, and students in similar circumstances all around the city.