Picking up my son from baseball at the John Jay Educational Campus in Park Slope I once noticed a curious sign.
The high school complex is shared by several public schools, and the sign said students attending other schools there were not allowed to attend Brooklyn Millennium High School’s games (all were welcome at the other schools’ games).
While inequality pervades NYC’s school system, it’s startling when the message that one group of children is superior to another is inscribed so explicitly — and publicly.
It appears there are many other ways this message is conveyed to the students in the complex, according to a suit winding its way through Manhattan federal court. The suit, according to the New York Post, targets Millennium High, a selective school where almost half the students are white.
The suit claims the Department of Education gives the schools more teams and that it receives more than twice as much city money than the other schools in the building. In those schools, more than 85 percent of students are black and Latino. City education officials have defended how teams are set up.
The lawsuit was filed after Jill Bloomberg, principal of Park Slope Collegiate, one of the four schools at the John Jay building, repeatedly complained about the situation.
This problem extends beyond the walls of the John Jay complex, however. Last month, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest published a report documenting grotesque disparities in physical education in our public schools. Its report concluded that the “vast majority” of black students do not receive the state-mandated number of gym class hours and receive less physical education than white and Asian pupils at all grade levels in NYC.
If you have an active child, as I do, you know how badly some kids need to play sports. The lack of athletic opportunities for some kids in this system is tantamount to institutional disregard. All kids deserve to play, and schools need equal access to public money for gym classes and teams.
This problem in the John Jay complex can be remedied through equitable distribution of city funding.
Liza Featherstone lives and writes in Clinton Hill.