Brooklyn Councilmember Antonio Reynoso is gathering support for a new bill that demands more transparency in the city’s funding of after-school athletic programs to ensure greater equity for Black and Latino public school students.
The councilmember joined students and advocates on Tuesday at City Hall who rallied in support of physical education reforms to provide equal access to gyms and sports teams to all students, irrespective of race, geographic location, size or age of the school.
“Currently, Black and Brown public school students are being deprived of equal access to sports teams and resources,” said Reynoso. “This inequity stems from systemic flaws and inconsistencies in the DOE’s process for granting and funding sports teams.’”
Advocacy groups like the Fair Play Coalition, IntegrateNYC and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, among others, contend that thousands of Black and Latino NYC public high school students attend schools that offer no sports team. To get a sports team principals have to submit a request to the Public School Athletic League. Advocates question how PSAL makes its decisions to grant teams citywide, alleging that the organization’s policies have resulted in an inequitable system to the detriment of Black and Latino students.
Reynoso’s bill would require the DOE to make information and data on funding for coaches, referees, athletic directors, equipment, uniforms and transportation public. The legislation would also require reporting on student demographic information, athletic team requests and athletic facilities used for after-school athletics.
A first hearing on the bill took place before the City Council’s education committee on December 3. That same day, Reynoso and Borough President Eric Adams presented a survey on physical education spaces in Brooklyn schools.
“Physical education is not elective,” said Adams. “It’s an essential component of developing a child’s full personhood that our school system has not properly prioritized. We cannot allow schools to be using inappropriate space for gym activities.”
The report, titled “Physical Education Access and Infrastructure: Building the Full Personhood of New York City’s Student Population,” revealed that 83.1 percent of the 307 participating schools have a dedicated space to use as a gym, yet 51.1 percent of them indicated their gym space was shared with another school. Nineteen schools stated that they use their cafeteria as a gym, while 18 schools reported other spaces for gym uses such as converted classrooms and multipurpose rooms.
Other issues the study revealed were buckling gym floors, gym spaces with large support pillars in them, lack of air conditioning in gym spaces, spaces being multipurpose and limiting, and overcrowded buildings with no ability to convert classrooms, among others.
“As the councilmember representing Bushwick, Ridgewood and Williamsburg, I am very concerned by the lack of gym space in my district schools,” said Reynoso. “Insufficient gym space not only denies students within my district the opportunity to access the transformative power of sports, but speaks to larger issues of the inequitable allocation of resources and funding throughout New York City.”
To see the full report, go here.