Monday, September 9, 2019
For a long time, the National Junior High has had two championship sections, K-8 and K-9. In the last forty years, almost all American intermediate schools have changed from 7-9 to 6-8, making the K-9 section redundant. The only schools that bring 9th graders to nationals are private k-12 schools (and Hunter, a public gifted K-12). Other schools, like TH Rogers and 318 have learned to play in this section, because sometimes its much easier to win, but no one actually has 9th graders except the k-12 privates. Note that even the private K-12 schools generally divide themselves (internally) into k-5, 6-8 and 9-12 sub-schools.
The scholastic council just announced changes to the 2019-2020 Scholastic Regulations that eliminates the K-8 section of Junior High Nationals, leaving only the K-9. This gives private schools and Hunter the exclusive right to bring 9th graders, a huge, entirely gratuitous, structural advantage.
Also keep in mind that private school students in New York are already a full year older than their public school counterparts. Technically it is supposed to be 9 months, but they hold their kids back so they can be the oldest and most accomplished. That means the private schools (and Hunter) have a two year age advantage on public school kids.
In 2016 I was on the Scholastic Committee (the larger, advisory body) and on the subcommittee to redo the nationals sections. We did not remove the K-9 championship section then because there was, at the time, one remaining 7-9 school that competed, Metcalf, and their coach was also on the committee. That school became 6-8 in the last couple years.
Sunil Weermantry kicked me off the voluntary Scholastic Committee without warning or notification because he unilaterally felt there were "too many people from New York." No one else I know was removed. I was an active member of the committee and served on numerous subcommittees. My emails asking to be reinstated were ignored.
I know someone will make the argument "why should we reduce the overall attendance numbers at nationals by excluding a grade." But why not include tenth grade? It's exactly the same!
THERE ARE NO 7-9 SCHOOLS (ok, I'm sure there are a couple somewhere, but definitely none that consistently attend nationals).
Scholastic Council Members and the private schools you teach, let me be the first to CONGRATULATE YOU on most probably winning the next 7/10 National Junior High School Chess Championships! Way to put your finger on the scale and entrench your power!
Beautiful example you are setting for your students.
(updated to reflect my calming down and realizing this is a huge but not 100% decisive advantage.)