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The future of G&T

New York Teacher

Leave it to Mayor Bill de Blasio to make such a consequential decision at the eleventh hour.

On Oct. 8, with three months left in his second term, he announced plans to phase out the gifted-and-talented program in NYC public schools. In September 2022, he said, schools would no longer accept a new cohort of students in their programs. Instead, kindergarten teachers would be trained to work with gifted students in regular classrooms.

But de Blasio waited too long to address this hot-button issue. It’s for the next mayor to decide. And Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee and de Blasio’s likely successor, has ideas about the program that appear to be more in line with ours: The program should not be eliminated, Adams said on Oct. 15, but should be retooled and expanded.

One thing is for certain, our students deserve better than what they have now: a skewed admission system that has exacerbated segregation and inequality in our school system. Black and Latino students are poorly represented in gifted-and-talented programs, as are students with disabilities, homeless students and English language learners. And one gatekeeping high-stakes test at age 4 isn’t fair. Admission practices should be revised to include multiple measures of giftedness.

In an interview, Adams said he would make the test for the gifted-and-talented program the norm for all 4-year-olds, allowing parents to opt out instead of requiring them to sign up. He also promised to expand the program to underserved neighborhoods.

De Blasio perpetuated an unfair program set up by his billionaire predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, for eight years and then sought to destroy it rather than fix it. Families deserve a more thoughtful approach. We hope that’s what they’ll get in the next administration.

Related Topics: Parents