This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
More than 150 public school districts in Pennsylvania are meeting in State College on Tuesday to come up with solutions to what they see as a growing disparity in middle and high school sports competitions.
The districts contend that sporting events have become less competitive since charter and private schools joined traditional public schools in state playoffs.
They point to state tournaments, where private and charter schools have been winning more often than their traditional public school counterparts. And they blame the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA), which governs middle school and high school sports, for failing to include them in a public hearing last week where the organization outlined ideas to address the situation. Catholic and charter school representatives were included.
Now, the public schools will have the opportunity to air their grievances at what they’re calling the Playoff Equity Summit. PIAA representatives were not invited to the meeting.
Since 2008, private and charter schools have won the state football championships half the time, with an even better record for girls’ and boys’ basketball championships. This lopsided record has led some district administrators and coaches to contend that private and charter schools have an unfair advantage because they can recruit from anywhere, while public schools can only draw from kids living within their boundaries.