In a craven move of the type that defines his mayoralty, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday the elimination of Gifted & Talented programs. Too cowardly to do this in the middle of his term — because he knew parents would be angry — he instead made the announcement with only 12 weeks left in office.
De Blasio also did it without the promised public input because he doesn’t care what parents and children want. If every kid can’t excel in school then no one should, King Bill has decreed, dismantling part of the ladder of opportunity for thousands of schoolkids.
In the past, we have agreed with critics that Gifted & Talented entry should not hinge on a single test given once to 4-year-olds.
But that doesn’t mean that some kids as young as 5 can’t benefit from more challenging material that’s not appropriate for other children. Indeed, denying that opportunity is likely to leave the gifted kids bored and more likely to act out — compromising everyone’s education.
And de Blasio’s answer at the higher levels — that some kids can have advanced material, but in the same classroom — is a terrible alternative. Are teachers really going to tailor a curriculum to 26 different kids?
The problem isn’t in the existing programs, it’s the fact that the city doesn’t offer remotely enough of them. Many schools in poorer neighborhoods don’t even offer G&T, which is why so many parents there scramble to get into charters.
It’s incumbent upon likely new mayor Eric Adams to reverse de Blasio’s last-minute mandate and come up with a better way: 1) Add new G&T classes and programs, especially in areas that have nothing. 2) Allow for alternate entry, most likely on the basis of teacher recommendations and/or some appeals process for kids who don’t meet the cutoff.
This is obvious to everyone except that handful of activists and their enablers who insist the existing programs must go because they’re somehow racist and produce “segregation.” This is garbage: How, exactly, would anyone create a test that magically favors higher-income whites and lower-income Asians (that’s right: city Asians average low income, including the families whose kids attend Stuyvesant and other elite high schools) over blacks and Hispanics?
And G&T programs in fact enroll kids of all races — just not in proportion to the city’s overall racial makeup. But the myriad reasons for that have nothing to do with discrimination on the basis of race, which (again) the “It’s white supremacy” crowd can’t produce evidence of because none exists.
If de Blasio’s plan actually went into effect, it would be a disaster for the public schools because these programs give families of all incomes and races a chance to escape mediocre (or worse) programs. Without that hope, parents who can will go elsewhere.
The mayor’s similar ending of excellent middle schools in Brooklyn’s District 12 has families there moving their kids to private, Catholic and charter schools. Middle-class black parents in Queens’ District 29 are in revolt, too, with enrollment down 13 percent the last four years.
The next mayor will reverse this decision, and de Blasio knows it. All he’s done is sow doubt and fear and force a bunch of wasted effort in preparation for a change that won’t happen.
It’s self-indulgent ideological posturing at everyone else’s expense — a skunk of a mayor going out with a final flip of the bird to the people of New York.
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