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Queens Chronicle

Scrap gifted and talented classes?

Recommendation to mayor sets off storm, de Blasio faces tough call

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Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:33 pm, Thu Sep 5, 2019.

A blue-ribbon panel of mayoral advisers this week proposed a sweeping plan to reorganize the way nearly all students in New York City are assigned to schools — including a highly controversial suggestion that gifted and talent programs for elementary school students be phased out.

The panel was appointed last year by Mayor de Blasio to recommend ways to bring some type of racial balance to city’s chronically segregated schools.

The School Diversity Advisory Group’s report, issued last Tuesday, includes a number of suggestions that would fundamentally change the way the city’s 1,800 schools would be organized and admissions policies that have been in place for generations.

But the immediate reaction to the suggestion that the highly sought-after G&T programs be eliminated as quickly as possible ignited a passionate debate among parents and politicians.

“We should be striving to offer G&T programs to all eligible children in every neighborhood in the city,” Councilman Robert Holden (D-Middle Village), a prominent critic of city Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, said in a tweet.

“Instead, the mayor and chancellor ... want to continue lowering the bar for education.”

The “shutdown recommendation invites a brain drain on city schools,” tweeted Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), .

The G&T programs are seen by many as a pipeline into the city’s top middle and high schools.

Critics note that 75 percent of the gifted programs’ students are white or Asian. The city school system as a whole is more than two-thirds black and Hispanic.

The mayor has not indicated yet if he intends to implement the recommendations.

“It’s literally a recommendation that just came out,” he told a morning cable TV show on Tuesday. “I’m going to assess it.”

The availability of G&T programs in Queens has been a source of unrest for years.

Some schools districts — such as District 27 in South Queens and 29 in Southeast Queens — have just one G&T class for 40 elementary schools.

All the others have four, except for District 25 in north central Queens, which has five.

“I can tell you the parents do not like what the the mayor and chancellor are proposing,” said Dr. Harold Paez, the former chairman of the Community Education Council 27 and now head of the Education Committee for Community Board 14 in the Rockaways.

Paez was not surprised by the call to scrap G&T classes.

“Starting in 2015, every attempt we made to increase the number of G&T schools in the district was met with no response,” he said. “No one ever called us back.”

What would replace them?

The panel suggested creating magnet schools for elementary and middle-school students.

Instead of grouping student by test scores, the magnet schools would accept those of varying abilities based on their interests.

The panel also pushed for the elimination of screened high-school admissions in all but the city’s eight specialized high schools.

The 25 percent of the city’s high schools that screen prospective students based on grades, state tests and attendance would have to come up with a new admissions system aiming for a racial make-up closer to the citywide system, the proposal said.

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  • Linnster posted at 9:17 am on Fri, Aug 30, 2019.

    Linnster Posts: 10

    Instead of encouraging better education in schools that are lagging, this [expletive deleted] excuse for a mayor and his cohort Caranzza would rather bring down children who are excelling in their studies. Everyone knows that the key to rising out of poverty is education, so why would these clowns cater to the lowest common denominator? De Blasio can't manage a housing project but he has visions of running the country! All he's done is waste money trying to get on the ballot to run for an office for which he is eminently unqualified. I wouldn't vote for him for dog catcher.

  • Buster57 posted at 5:15 pm on Thu, Aug 29, 2019.

    Buster57 Posts: 79

    Why bother even having school? Do we all have to be brought to the lowest common denominator? If some districts aren't even responding, what does that tell you? Put in great teachers in all the schools. Allow a student to excel. If a student needs help in some areas, give them the added help like we did "back in the day". If they continue to fail - leave them back a grade like we did "back in the day". Very sad indeed.