Monday, September 9, 2019

The Scholastic Council Are A Bunch of Cheaters, Part Two.

     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.)


Steve Davis said...

This Sunil chap does sound like a cheater.Is there any way to investigate him and have him kicked off the committee?

Anonymous said...

This does seem ridiculous. However, don't despair. Kentucky does not win the NCAA every year. Golden State lost with Durant on their team twice.

About Weeramantry--I was shocked that given a platform in the September Chess Life he chose to dig at IS 318:
"The list of titles that students in Sunil’s program at Hunter have won
include three consecutive national high school championships from
2010 to 2012—a fact that Sunil laments is sometimes obscured by the
fanfare around I.S. 318, the championship-winning school that was the
subject of the 2012 documentary Brooklyn Castle. Hunter and I.S. 318
were actually co-champions in 2012, Sunil points out."

In addition to those sour grapes, he also mentioned that

"Hunter Elementary first gained national acclaim in 1985. Or at least
that’s when the school won its first national elementary championship.
It’s interesting to consider that back then the school was doing what
Brooklyn Castle did in 2012 and what is still considered groundbreaking
today—that is, shattering stereotypes about who excels at chess."

When a school that admits only students with IQs over 140 wins in chess, just what stereotype does that shatter? Nowhere does the article mention the cohort of Hunter students. They do imply their privilege with an ironically phrased: "parental buy-in is evidenced by the fact that the PTA helps finance Sunil’s program with $50,000 from its $500,000 budget." I guess parents with kids in Title I schools don't really "buy-in" to their kids' success.

Here's a question: what can be done about this. Could petitions from chess parents have an effect?

MarquisSmith said...

In many youth competitions, including chess, birth date is the criterion. As a parent of an NYC chess player with a late in the year birthday, I've taken note of the birth date advantage you note above. Whatever advantage it is in middle school is greatly amplified in elementary school. An NYC public school child with a December birth date might face a private school kids who are 16 months older--and that without the "holding back" which as you note is common. That's an enormous advantage if you've only lived 71 months, as would be the case for such a first grader at grade nationals.

What would it take to switch to age-nationals (i.e. u7, u8, u9...)?

Anonymous said...

I think the greatest irony about the Scholastic Council are in two main areas:

The Council is heavily represented by NYC private schools and schools for the gifted and talented. In fact, both co-chairs of the Council represent the uber elite of NYC. They do not have the interests of your average scholastic chess player. Why does the USCF allow its deliberative bodies to be dominated by the interests of billionaire parents and their children.

Secondly, the USCF can make all of the rules about notation devices, notation sheets, cell phones, transfers etc responding to the paranoid fears of Council members but they do not address the irony of the folks writing the rules governing these events have grossly violated the rules themselves.

One revealing example occurred at the National HS Championship in 2018. At that event, the team from Bronxville NY entered the U1900 section as the "Bronxville School". The team consisted of two players who were in the eighth grade and players in tenth and eleventh grade.

In fact there no reason these students should have been allowed to compete with one another.

The Bronxville website clearly lists three separate schools with three separate Principals for the three schools that comprise the District.

Clearly, despite being located in the same building, there are separate middle school and high schools in the Bronxville School District.

Here is the press coverage the school received where the coach, who also happens to be co-chair of the Scholastic Council who gets to write the rules about the eligibility for all other members, celebrates the victory despite combining his middle school and high school students on the same team.

THe team also did the same thing in a previous k-6 national Championship by combining their ELEM students with their MIDDLE school students!

So how ironic, that the Co-Chair of the USCF's governing scholastic council feels he can write the rules dictating the eligibility for every one else while repeatedly violating the clearest of rules by COMBINING his students who go to separate schools on the SAME team.

It's widespread knowledge in the scholastic community that this occurred.

Why is everyone so afraid of this bully?

Anonymous said...

Age, date of birth, is the most equitable measure for avoiding the unfair competitions. True, it would break up some school teams into different categories or classes, but that would be proper. There is no way to eliminate the advantage that wealthy children and better schools may have, but why should they be allowed additional fudging benefits?

Unknown said...

Indeed. And the "red-shirted" private school first grader who is doing well at K-1 tournaments playing against kids 1.5-2.5 years younger will feel good about chess while his younger poorer opponents may decides they are not good at it and quit. Meanwhile, all that may demonstrate is extra cognitive development.