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New York brings back a gifted and talented program with a major expansion


On Wednesday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor David C. Banks announced the expansion of the program.

Last year, former mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan to phase out the program citing a history of disproportionate enrollment of white and Asian students at a higher rate than black and Latino students.

“Through this expansion, we are providing more accelerated learning opportunities to more families, while providing a fair and just process to identify students who will excel in accelerated learning,” Banks said in a statement.

The DOE is adding 100 kindergarten seats and 1,000 third-grade seats, expanding the two entry points to all districts.

Adams and Banks say that with this expansion and updates to the admissions process, the city’s gifted and talented program will serve all communities in the city for the first time.

“Expanding our Gifted and Talented program to every district in New York is about giving every child, in every ZIP code, a fair chance and making sure no child is left behind,” said Adams said in a statement.

The mayor said changes to the program will eliminate inequities in the admissions process.

Controversy

For years, students, advocates and some educators have argued that the city’s gifted and talented scrutiny is polarizing and has not helped existing debates about the unequal and discriminatory treatment of black and Latino students.

According to the UCLA Civil Rights Project, public schools in New York City are among the most segregated in the United States. In an updated analysis using data from 2018, a report released this year found that New York retains its place as the most segregated state for black students and the second most segregated for Latino students, behind California.

Segregation is blatant in New York. In the city’s public schools, 74.6% of black and Latino students attend a school where less than 10% of students are white. Additionally, 34.3% of white students attend majority-white schools, according to the DOE.

Last year, students and attorneys filed a lawsuit against state and city defendants who “challenged racial hierarchies in public education and asserted their right under the U.S. Constitution.” New York State to an education that identifies and dismantles racism”.

What happens next

Officials say the expansion is the result of the DOE meeting with parents, advocacy groups and other community stakeholders to set priorities for admissions this year.

This resulted in a decision to increase the number of places in the program; creating a fairer selection process; and expand the third year entry point in each district.

Historically, kindergarten has been the initial entry point for gifted and talented programs in the city. For the 2022-23 school year, approximately 100 new kindergarten spaces are being added to the gifted and talented student portfolio, expanding the program to all 32 districts and bringing the total number of spaces to 2,500.

Each current pre-K student will be evaluated by their current teacher for potential nomination, according to city officials.

“Universal pre-K screening eases the initial burden on families and creates access for more children with a more diverse pool of eligibility. First implemented for the 2021-2022 school year, universal screening has led to a more diverse pool of students receiving an invitation to apply for Gifted and Talented Programs.Students enrolled in non-DOE programs and those not yet enrolled in school will participate in an interview with staff at the DOE to confirm their eligibility.”

Each district in the city will provide an additional entry point for gifted and talented third-grade students, which is a baseline of one program in each district and a total of 1,000 places.

Families of eligible and nominated children will receive an eligibility letter inviting them to apply before the application opens.

The application process opens on May 31.

“All students, regardless of race, income or the neighborhood they live in, deserve equal opportunity for accelerated learning and academic challenges,” said New York City Council President Adrienne Adams.


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