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N.Y. history teacher takes on Public School Athletic League over funding practices

Ben Rohrbach
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David Garcia-Rosen (top right) coaches the International Community High baseball team in a league he founded. (ny.chalkbeat.org)
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David Garcia-Rosen (top right) coaches the International Community High baseball team in a league he founded. (ny.chalkbeat.org)

A New York City high school teacher is taking on the powerful Public School Athletic League, citing inequities in the Departmet of Education's athletic funding for high- and low-income school districts.

Frustrated by the PSAL's repeated rejections of his school's requests for additional sports teams, according to the Epoch Times, Bronx (N.Y.) International Community High history teacher David Garcia-Rosen published a report revealing some startling statistics about the league's funding distribution.

“If you’re in a community where people are not making a lot of noise, where the parents and the principals are not making a lot of noise, they deny you,” Garcia-Rosen told the New York-based independent news organization. “There’s no process. They don’t interview you, they don’t call you.”

The DOE reportedly spends $23 million annually to operate the PSAL. According to DOE statistics referenced by Garcia-Rosen, who also serves as International Community's athletic director, 20 percent of students in the city's five poorest school districts do not have PSAL sports teams available to them, as opposed to just one percent of students in New York's five wealthiest districts.

Additionally, the 40 NYC public schools with the highest percentage of white students field more than four times as many PSAL teams than the 40 schools with the lowest percentage of white students, Garcia-Rosen told NY1 News in State Island, home to some of the city's wealthier school districts.

"It's the same schools over and over again," he told the local TV station. "It's the schools with the least poverty, with the highest rates of white students, with the lowest rates of English-language learners."

While his findings fell on deaf ears for years, Garcia-Rosen founded the Small Schools Athletic League in 2011, using funding from the school's budget rather than the PSAL to field sports teams. As of last year, the SSAL had grown to 37 schools, reportedly featuring almost 2,000 students in more than 500 games.

The SSAL's growing popularity -- as well as Garcia-Rosen's continued public awareness campaign, including a Change.org petition -- ultimately grabbed the attention of the City Council. Government officials then began questioning the DOE about its practices, according to NY1 News.

As a result, DOE Deputy Schools Chancellor Kathleen Grimm told the local news station, "We are in discussions with this group about perhaps making them a subset of the PSAL."

Meanhwile, the SSAL remains on the outside looking in on the PSAL's $23 million budget, so excuse Garcia-Rosen if he doesn't believe his school will receive equitable funding until he sees it.

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