Mayor de Blasio on Friday announced a plan to phase out the Gifted & Talented program from New York public schools, sparking outrage and debate in boroughs.
The controversial program tested incoming preschools to identify “gifted and talented” students and put them on a fast-track learning path. The current cohort of students in Grades 1 through 5 will complete the program, but Mayor de Blasio said it will be overhauled with a new plan, Brilliant NYC, which will provide accelerated learning options for students later in primary school.
“We are going to train teachers and prepare schools to really reach out to you as a child and bring out your gifts and abilities that would have been overlooked if you had not been accepted into one of these very small programs,” very exclusive, gifted and talented before. “the mayor said on WNYC’s” The Brian Lehrer Show “on Friday.
“We will reach 10 times as many children each year through accelerated learning,” he said.
Parents in Queens took to social media to criticize the mayor’s announcement. “I am livid and beside myself,” said Jean Hahn, parent of Rego Park and manager of Queens Parents United.
“It takes away any opportunity for kids who are more advanced and need a school boost,” Hahn said. “In making sweeping changes to any policy, you should involve the public,” she said, adding that they were promised more public and parent engagement sessions.
This time, Education Ministry Chancellor Meisha Porter said the Education Ministry would look to the community for comment. “We want to hear from parents, community leaders, educators and students,” she said on “The Brian Lehrer Show” alongside the mayor.
“I know that when we go to the communities, they will make things better. They will add more. So we look forward to starting city and district conversations.
Hahn’s daughter is in fifth grade and is part of the Gifted & Talented program. She was not accepted into the Kindergarten program even after taking a preparation course. “It really made all the difference for her,” Hahn said.
She remembered a lesson in her daughter’s second grade class where they learned about Leonardo da Vinci and did a project on the artist.
One aspect of the Gifted & Talented program that she finds important and overlooked is that teachers provide special emotional support in addition to academics. “These children need emotional support,” she said. “It’s different from honorary students. ”
Critics of the program say it leads to racial divisions and access to it is uneven. Some parents would like the program to be more accessible in all schools.
“While the Gifted & Talented program is good for these special students, we want the everyday child to have a good basic education,” said Michael Duncan, activist from Queens and founder of the Students Improvement Association.
“Our kids in our community didn’t really have access anyway,” said Duncan, who advocates for better education in District 29 in South East Queens.
“For the majority of them, the gifted and talented wouldn’t be for them because they’re not even ready to reach that level,” Duncan said.
Phil Wong, former president of Woodside-based CEC 24, said the Gifted & Talented program should not only be expanded, but also aggressively promoted, especially in neighborhoods with less access.
“We have this problem right now because so many poor neighborhoods have seen the G&T program canceled,” Wong said. He and former city council candidate Donghui Zang are holding a rally outside the DOE headquarters in Manhattan tomorrow in support of continuing the program.
Queens officials weighed in on the announcement, also calling for more widespread and improved gifted and talented programs.
“Mayor de Blasio’s decision to phase out the gifted and talented program instead of making it more inclusive with improved resources is short-sighted and inappropriate, especially as his term ends in a few months,” said the State Senator Joe Addabbo Jr. (D- Howard Beach) in a statement.
“I understand the desire to increase diversity in our gifted and talented programs, but getting rid of the program and swapping it with a replacement program given to us with minimal parental input is not the answer,” he said. he added.
MP Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) also touched on the fact that de Blasio’s term is almost over. “I hope the new administration reconsiders this decision and offers full parental and community engagement on this important issue,” he said.
Representative Grace Meng (D-Queens) also calls for improvements to the program. “Reforming the process would be the more difficult choice, and instead of making adjustments, the City is going for the simpler solution by implementing a massive phase-out of the program,” she said.