After a mayoral panel called for ending gifted and talented programs in city schools, a group of City Council members is demanding the opposite—an expansion of such instruction.
“There should be a gifted and talented program in every DOE school’s building in the City of New York,” City Councilman Robert Cornegy said.
Gifted and talented programs separate high achievers from the general student population as early as kindergarten, based on a single high stakes test.
The mayoral panel says the programs further racial segregation in city schools. But City Councilman Robert Cornegy says many in communities of color have been asking for more of the classes.
Earlier this week, the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, which represents half of the council's 51 members, called the proposed elimination of G & T classes "excessive."
“A lot of the programs and the zip codes where gifted and talented programs are absent are the same zip codes that populate the upstate prisons,” said Cornegy.
Mayor de Blasio, taking questions about the recommendations for the first time, says he's heard that message.
"We've heard a lot of concern in communities of color that they wanted more gifted and talented programs, and, in fact, we've accommodated that. We've respected that,” de Blasio said. “But it doesn't answer the bigger question of where we need to go in the future."
While some have applauded the panel's recommendations, others have called the gifted and talented programs a bright spot in the public school system.
“To eliminate gifted and talented [programs] borderlines on criminal,” said City Councilmember Bob Holden.
While the council members support expanding gifted and talented programs, several said they didn’t think the system was perfect, particularly the test given to four-years-olds for entry.
But they say that's not a reason to end the program. In fact, Councilman Peter Koo defended the exam.
"Some people shine earlier, some people shine later, so we shouldn't say oh this is biased," Koo said.
One thing is certain: no decision will be made any time soon. The mayor says he's reserving his judgment "entirely."
"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. And we'll do that in the course of this school year," de Blasio said.