A panel appointed by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to combat desegregation has recommended getting rid of public school programs for gifted and talented kids, as they are filled “mostly with white and Asian children,” according to the New York Times.
If de Blasio adopts some or all of the proposals, “He risks alienating tens of thousands of mostly white and Asian families whose children are enrolled in the gifted programs and selective schools,” the Times‘ Eliza Shapiro notes.
That said, the plan “may also face opposition from some middle-class black and Hispanic families that have called for more gifted programs in mostly minority neighborhoods as a way to offer students of color more access to high-quality schools.”
The panel’s report, obtained by The New York Times, amounts to a repudiation of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s education agenda, which reoriented the system toward school choice for families, including more gifted and screened schools, to combat decades of low performance.
According to the panel “made up of several dozen education experts,” gifted programs and screened schools have “become proxies for separating students who can and should have opportunities to learn together.” They have recommended replacing gifted schools with new magnet schools, “which have been used in other cities to attract a diverse group of students interested in a particular subject matter — along with enrichment programs that are open to students with varying academic abilities.”
If the mayor adopts the recommendations, elementary and middle schools would no longer be able to admit students based solely or largely on standardized exams or other academic prerequisites, and high schools would have diversity requirements.
Alternative means of admission should be decided by the Department of Education and individual districts, the panel found.
Last year there were approximately 16,000 students enrolled in gifted classes – 75% of which were White and Asian, while Black and Hispanic enrollment in the same programs has fallen off a cliff over the past decade.
The panel noted that if the gifted programs are eliminated, New York would have to take steps to prevent middle-class families from fleeing the area for better educational opportunities.
If those students decamp to private schools or to the suburbs, “it will become even more difficult to create high-quality integrated schools,” in New York, the report said. The panel wrote that “high-achievement students deserve to be challenged,” but in different ways.
Also recommended is that the city eliminate the standardized admissions exam for elementary school gifted programs – currently offered to prospective Kindergarten students in order to identify those with exceptional talents, while de Blasio should also “place a moratorium on new gifted programs, stop most grouping by academic ability and phase out existing gifted classes by not admitting new students.”
In order to integrate high schools, the panel recommended that the city not open any new screened high schools, eliminate geographic zones as a criteria for admission and should not consider lateness or attendance in evaluating prospective students.
The city should also redesign its competitive high school admissions process to ensure that high schools reflect the racial and economic make up of their boroughs, the panel found.
“Here we go kneecapping the fastest track team members to help the slow ones run faster. Because diversity and inclusion! “commented one Redditor, who added “Maybe we should shutter ivy league schools and make our most elite post doc academics go to community colleges while we are at it?”