Critics hit city proposal to overhaul Gifted and Talented program as de Blasio promises review
Critics of a recommendation to overhaul the city’s Gifted and Talented program hardened their opposition Wednesday, and Mayor de Blasio promised a thorough review of the proposal.
Six city council members rallied from the steps of city hall urging the mayor to expand the elementary school fast track, rather than replace the classes with the non-selective, schoolwide enrichment programs the panel called for.
“I have been fighting for years to expand this program, particularly to underserved communities, and I am not going to let that progress be rolled back,” said City Council Member Robert Cornegy (D–Brooklyn), who organized the rally.
The Gifted and Talented program, which admits students through a single test taken at age 4 and lasts through fifth grade, has come under fire for enrolling a tiny share of black and Latino students.
Hizzonner promised to give the proposal, which also includes overhauling the middle school admissions process, careful consideration this school year after talking with parents, teachers and experts.
“This is a very, big complicated discussion that we need to do systematically in this city and involve stakeholders from all over the city, starting with parents,” de Blasio said.
Critics of the city’s current program point out few districts test kids at age four. De Blasio said criticisms of the test are a “fair concern."
City Council Member Peter Koo (D-Queens), who supports keeping the test as is, said “blaming G&T programs for a lack of diversity when this kind of disparity exists across the city is disingenuous.”
Calls from city leaders including Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. to expand gifted testing also got a boost from state politicians. Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Queens) and State Senator Ann Stavisky (D-Queens) have a bill in front of the state legislature that would require districts to screen students for advanced programs in third grade.