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Mayor Bill de Blasio is phasing out New York City’s Gifted and Talented program, he announced Friday — bowing to critics who complain that the coveted model is racist.
Current students in the program will be able to stay in accelerated-learning classes to completion. But new cohorts they will be completely eliminated by fall 2022, ending the current testing for 4-year-old city kids.
“The era of judging four-year-olds based on a single test is over,” de Blasio said Friday.
It is being replaced by Brilliant NYC, a program offering students aged 8 and up chances for accelerated learning — while staying in their regular classrooms with other pupils.
De Blasio announced the major overhaul despite being in the final months of his term in office.
Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio speaks during the opening of a vaccination center for Broadway workers in Times Square on April 12, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
The candidates to replace him, Democrat Eric Adams and Republican Curtis Sliwa, have both made clear they did not want to completely eliminate the program, which critics have attacked saying that a higher number of White and Asian students pass the tests.
“Brilliant NYC will deliver accelerated instruction for tens of thousands of children, as opposed to a select few,” de Blasio said.
“Every New York City child deserves to reach their full potential, and this new, equitable model gives them that chance.”
But critics quickly ripped Hizzoner for making the decision so late in his administration after earlier calls for him to leave it to his successor.
“Gifted and talented programs have been an integral option for generations of schoolkids,” tweeted Sen. John Liu (D-Queens), who chairs a panel on New York City schools.
“@BilldeBlasio promised intensive public engagement about it but now wants total elimination.
“This won’t help his abysmal record. If anything, his legacy will be revocation of mayoral control,” said Liu.
Sam Pirozzolo, former president of the Staten Island Community Education Council who put two children through G&T programs, called the move “disheartening.”
“Tens of thousands of families are leaving the public schools because the education being taught sucks,” he said.
“Eliminating the gifted and talented program is another brick in the wall insulting parents.
“It’s the political stuff going on. It’s critical race theory.”
Mayoral frontrunner Adams thinks that “clearly, the Department of Education must improve outcomes for children from lower-income areas,” his spokesman Evan Thies told The Post.
But “Eric will assess the plan and reserves his right to implement policies based on the needs of students and parents, should he become mayor,” Thies stressed.
Supporters of G&T have long hailed it for giving academically advanced kids the opportunity to learn at an appropriate pace and serve as an educational springboard.
However, detractors counter that the admissions model favors families of means who are better able to prepare for the test and that the exam serves as a poor marker of talent in young children.
Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York, speaks during a news conference at New Bridges Elementary School in the Brooklyn borough of New York, on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. (Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
But the debate has also focused on claims that the racial makeup of the classes reflects an unfair bias. Asian students account for 43 percent of G&T students despite being just 16.2 percent in the school system.
White students make up 36 percent in G&T classes, with Hispanics at 8 percent and African-Americans at 6 percent.
The city’s education department claims its new model will offer accelerated learning opportunities to 26 times as many pupils, from 2,500 to all 65,000 city kindergartners.
All 4,000 Kindergarten teachers will need extra training in preparation, and the city will hire additional teachers trained in accelerated learning in areas with historically little to no gifted and talented programming.
Seven specialist teams of experts will also be on hand to help implement the sweeping new proposals.
All pupils going into third grade will now be screened in different subjects to see if they would benefit from tailored accelerated instruction — but they will remain in regular classrooms, according to the plan.
The accelerated model will also focus on real-world skills, with subjects such as coding, robotics and even community advocacy.
As a life-long educator, I know every child in New York City has talents that go far beyond what a single test can capture and the Brilliant NYC plan will uncover their strengths so they can succeed,” said Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter.
“I’m excited to get into neighborhoods across the city to hear directly from communities about the types of learning opportunities that pique students’ interests and lets their gifts shine.”
Click here to read more on the New York Post
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