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When 1.5 million vs. 5,000 no longer works: PIAA Classification System needs changed

Today Constitution, a magnet school in Philadelphia, defeated Farrell, a public school from Mercer County, 85-53, to win the PIAA Class A boys’ basketball title.

And good for Constitution. The school won the title playing within the rules set forth by the PIAA.

But boo to the PIAA. Because the rules are broken because there is no comparing Constitution to Farrell in terms of size.

But they are both Class A schools you say? Yes, in the 1950s thinking of the PIAA they are. Constitution after all has a school male population in grades nine through 12 of 118 according to the PIAA web site just 16 more than Farrell’s school male population in grades nine through 12 of 102.

The statistics lie.

See, as a magnet school, Constitution is a public school just like Farrell. But that is where the similarities end.

Farrell, you see, attracts its kids from the town of Farrell and surrounding areas. According to the 2010 census, the population of the area that makes up the Farrell School District was 5,739.

Constitution, meanwhile, as a magnet school, can attract students from anywhere within the public school system in the city of Philadelphia, a city with a 2010 census population figure of 1,526,006 meaning while Constitution may have only 16 more males in its school than Farrell it has a over 1.5 million more people to choose from than Farrell does.

How is this far? Plain and simple its not.

But also what has become plain and simple is the PIAA doesn’t want to or can’t address this issue. It continues to go by a system that was created around the time of World War II. One that uses the population of a school rather than the population of the area the school draws from to determine the school’s classification.

When the PIAA came up with the classification system it worked. Magnet schools didn’t exist. Neither did charter schools and catholic schools weren’t part of the PIAA.

Times have changed, and so to should how schools are classified.

But while this problem usually generates a lot of attention around the time of the basketball championships – a sport long dominated by magnet, charter and catholic schools – the PIAA doesn’t seem willing or able to change. And the state legislature doesn’t seem willing or able to push for the necessary change.

But maybe its time for the fans, the school boards, the coaches, the players and the parents of schools like Farrell, schools like Clarion-Limestone, schools like Cameron County, schools like Smethport and Port Allegany to start pushing the issue. Call and/or e-mail your local state representatives and senators and tell them enough is enough when it comes to the current way the PIAA classifies its schools. Tell them something needs to be done to give small schools in areas like District 9 and District 10 heck even in the WPIAL a fighting chance when it comes to winning something big like a state championship. Tell them to force the PIAA to change its classification system. And don’t wait until next year when another magnet, charter or catholic schools hoists the PIAA trophy in Class A or Class AA, do it now.

You can find your state legislators, including contact information for them here.