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Several Queens Legislators Criticize Mayor’s Decision to Phase Out the Gifted & Talented Program

Mayor Bill de Blasio ( Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

Oct. 8, 2021 By Allie Griffin

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that the city will phase out the gifted and talented program at city public schools — sparking criticism from several elected officials in Queens.

The highly competitive program, which requires kindergarteners to take a screening test, has been criticized by experts for exacerbating segregation in the city’s public schools. However, supporters say it provides advanced learning opportunities for students.

Several Queens legislators called the mayor’s decision to eliminate the program a mistake.

State Sen. John Liu, chair of the Senate’s Committee on NYC Education, denounced de Blasio for making the decision.

“G&T has been an integral option for generations of NYC school kids who learn at an accelerated rate for their grade level, and has offered hope for thousands of parents who otherwise would have completely lost confidence in public schools,” Liu said.

He said de Blasio made the decision without properly engaging the public beforehand. He noted that he did it with only three months left in office.

“De Blasio’s sudden fiat that G&T will be eliminated is disingenuous if not outright detestable, given that there is not nearly enough time left in his term to have any meaningful public engagement and for him to put any changes in place,” Liu said. “He leaves the next administration with yet another mess to clean up, and with public school parents and their children once again suffering the consequences.”

Likewise, Rep. Grace Meng urged the mayor to reconsider his decision.

“Gifted and Talented curriculums have provided students with crucial challenges that help them reach their full potential in the classroom,” she said in a statement. “Phasing out this program is a mistake.”

She added that the program should be expanded to all communities and the testing process improved to bridge access, rather than segregate students.

State Assembly Member Edward Braunstein also released a statement against the announcement.

“The Mayor’s decision to eliminate NYC’s Gifted & Talented program instead of building upon its success is highly disappointing,” he said. “For years, the G&T program has offered high-achieving students a challenging and rigorous learning environment where they could reach their greatest potential.”

He added that he hopes the incoming administration reconsiders the decision. The likely next mayor Eric Adams will ultimately make the call should he win the November election.

State Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman also denounced the move to end the program.

“I grew up in a place where being gifted and talented was not only a blessing, it was a necessity,” she said on Twitter. “It’s quite unnerving that [Bill de Blasio] would end the program as he’s about to exit. Leaving a mess for the incoming Mayor and communities to clean up as he goes.”

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo said the program should be improved rather than scrapped altogether as well.

“Mayor de Blasio’s decision to phase out the Gifted and Talented program instead of making it more inclusive with improved resources, is shortsighted and inappropriate, especially as his term ends in a couple of months,” Addabbo said.

“I believe the Gifted and Talented program should be improved to make it more accessible to all children, provide better outreach into all communities and to ensure every student has fair access to preparatory classes and tutors.”

He added that decision should be left up to the next mayor — with extensive input from parents.

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40 Comments

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Ed

Great more money to be allocated for the Bike Lanes, probably use the leftover money to redesign that zigzag horrendous bike blvd on 39th Ave.

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Neziah Bliss

Not a popular move on this site- but the right thing to do in my opinion. I think it’s great they’ve phased out Gifted & Talented- it was not working for the majority of the city’s population and DiBlasio made the right move.

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Fan of Dough Boy Park

It’s not for the majority of the city, it’s for the hardest working and talented. Not everyone can be a doctor, that’s just the way it is. Some parents care, some don’t. Some kids work hard, some play video games 4 hours a day. To penalize effort and dedication to avoid “ offending” those who work less is ridiculous. How low the bar has become where we punish hard work ( and let’s not forget the blatant racism against Asians that is the core of the this) . Only in liberal NYC is hard work a bad thing.

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Neziah Bliss

I understand your concern, but there are many places in this country (and many times in the past here in the city) where good students, average students, and bad students share the same air. The good students get As on the tests. The Average Students get Cs. The bad get Fs. By the time you get to High School, you do eventually get split up by ability and focus. But for formative years there’s a lot to be gained by both great students and bad students to sharing the same place and air. Testing a four year old and thinking you have identified a “genius” and then taking that mind away from the community might seem like you’ve identified the next Einstein (who was a slow bloomer by the way!), but in reality you’ve most likely identified the kid who’s parents had the best resources to get that kid to test well. This city has become too much of a have and have-not society and I think this is a step towards correcting it in the classroom. The idea that we need to save a student who we’ve decided as “gifted” at age 4 from other kids in his or her community has not been working in my opinion.

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Supermannn

Do you understand what the program is? It’s for very bright children. If you’re average then you can’t benefit like the majority of average kids. Why hurt kids that will be great scientists, mathematicians, musicians, artists, etc? We all benefit from bright people that propel human kind forward. It’s in your own selfish interest.

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Tish

Good! I have 6 grandkids struggling in school because of the pandemic and on food stamps. Most of us don’t need gifted programs, We need a daycares for elementary and middle schoolers to help feed them and help with their homework. Let the gifted send their kids to private schools.

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Oh please

No , you need to stop having too many grandkids if you can’t supply with what they need , society must be responsible with their actions and not always looking for help and hand outs , these children worked hard and they should be in classes for their hard work , it has nothing to do with level of income , it has to do with right parenting and hard work
Stop with the excuses for your lack of
Hard work and parenting

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PS 84

I started public school in 1965, when there were three classes per grade. One for slow learners , one for average, and one for advanced. By the time I got to junior high school, I skipped the 8th grade because I had the opportunity to learn at a faster pace. My parents weren’t rich, just taxpayers that payed for a good education. Being smart has nothing to do with race or money.

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@ PS 84

do you mean OPPORTUNITY or THE ABILITY?

I think you mean ability. Everyone has the OPPORTUNITY to learn at a faster pace . It all depends on the makeup of each class. If you are the only able minded and behaved in a class of clowns and in some cases delinquents with police records [true story] then you DONT have the opportunity to learn at a faster pace. You arent ABLE to learn at a faster pace, either.

It is widely known and proven that being ‘smart’ isnt necessarily a good thing…

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Grace

If that’s the case then, might as well remove test scores.. remove the entire grading system, if not it’s still going to show who’s smarter… there are people out there that are gifted. How is this preparing them for adulthood college and the competitive job market.

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Rosita

Good. All kids should be treated the same. No special treatment for kids that are better at test taking. Do more to help the kids who are not on grade level!

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Joann Stevens

@Rosita, have your brain checked. Look at all the brilliant people that gave the human race advances in education, medicine and technology. Stop being ignorant.

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Tiger mom

@Rosita, parents should be helping their kids do better on tests. My parents inforced learning at home. It’s not up to teachers to make kids study at home.

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Paula

Good, phase out these “gifted programs”. You cannot teach gifted people, they teach you instead. Also, putting children in gifted programs does nothing but add pressure to these kids. I am almost certain that some of them are not gifted at all, they simply excel at test taking, possibly due to higher access to resources, parents pressure to have their children be top ranked, and etc. Not to forget that kids should not be segregated due to one test. They will learn much more from each other than from advanced test taking. The bizarre desire of parents to have their children be above others is another issue in and of itself. Better to be intelligent, and discreet, you catch the under estimators by surprise. Personal advice.

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Chris

NYC is known to have the MOST segregated school system. This is a great step in the right direction to giving more kids access to a better education isn’t it?

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Nicky

Why don’t they just make it more inclusive and mandate x amount of African American Students be enrolled in these programs.

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Supermannn

How will they benefit if they’re not extremely bright? Should I get your job because of some quota? Do you mind giving up your job to someone else and go find another?

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Linda Richman

Is Mayor de Blasio getting rid of the Gifted & Talented Program because he himself is neither gifted nor talented – discuss.

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Gardens Watcher

Another bad decision from our weak-daddy mayor. A last-minute move that hopefully Eric Adams will undo.

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Jim

Yes, once again it hurts certain ethnic groups who’s culture encourages hard work and helps other cultures who don’t encourage hard work. And that is the truth.

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If one more failing kid

Tells me he’s gifted bin going to start shooting.
~~
Anyway… Could he be doing this because it makes the Asian children stand out even more? I’ve only seen academia being showcased in G&T and nothing much else. No extra curricular activities: art, music, dance, only EC phys Ed is basketball.

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Nom de plum

I am a product of theNYC public schools in the ‘40’s and 50’s. As a young girl in the 6-8 grade I found myself with other classmates who were bored and not taught at the level that met our intellectual ability. We had no courses to help us to gain entry to the specialized high schools at the time-e.g. Bronx Science and Stuyvesant StuyvesantvH.S. We took the test and myself and others were thrilled to gain entry. It was wonderful to be in an environment with others with similar intellectual interest, abilities and curiosity. We weren’t chosen on the basis of race or religion. The point being that we had the ability to learn at an accelerated rate, higher than that of our peers. So placement in these schools should not be given to people who cannot handle the advanced teaching… or why do we have these schools? Race and ethnic background should have Nothing to do with placement.

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Anonymous

Look, if there are not Black and Hispanic kids in G&T programs in numbers proportionate to population it must be because of racism. There can’t be any other possible cause. Why is this so hard to understand? Yep must be racism. All of us white racists obviously hate POC except for Asians.

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Supermannn

Deblasio has a son that went to Brooklyn Tech. Not sure if his son got in by taking the exam.

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Anonymous

And deBlasio wants to be Governor. Amazing. He has no idea how much New Yorkers are counting the days until January 1, 2022! He really is in his own imaginary world.

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Lowest common denominator

Dumbing down children’s education for political correctness. These kids are being cheated.

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Bench warmer

Kids should be rewarded for their hard work and not punished because it will hurt other children’s feelings or being political correct
We are conditioning these children to be weak and avoiding their ability to handle rejection

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ABoondy

a majority of new yorkers voted for this guy. you wanted a progressive socialist, and now you got a bunch of them. why is this a shock now? get your kids a private tutor if you want them to learn anything. if not, oh well.

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Wilma

All kids should have equal opportunities to thrive in public schools. The gifted program is a waste of money. Train teachers better. Children learn from each other. They used to group all special ed students together but now they phase them into mainstream classrooms. In the hopes they learn from interacting with their peers with teacher intervention and support. Its time we phase out programs that discriminate and target the disadvantaged. Spend money on creating acceptance patience and empathy. Help those in need.

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Responsibility

Target the disadvantaged? Ever been to Chinatown, Elmhurst, sunset park? The poor Asians there have parents who don’t speak English and yet they still succeed. How is that discriminatory? Poor Bangladeshi, Pakistani, and Indian people here in Sunnyside go through the same thing and they succeed. Same with Mexicans and Hispanics. These are first generation people who aspire to have their children better off than they are. How is it there are successful black people there who came from nothing? It’s about culture. Blaming the training of teachers? There are bad teachers out there protected by unions, but most are good people. But it’s the responsibility of parents to teach their kids respect and discipline.l so they can be good students. Acceptance, empathy, and patience? This is taught at home through family values and through religion. Both of which liberals like you don’t care much about and ridicule. Sad how you blame the system, teachers and everything else but actual parenting. I bet you blame guns for the violence and not the actual criminals who use it.

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Supermannn

Are you for real? We should put mentally retarded children with the brightest? There are kids that can barely read at the age level. They will be losers in life. It’s not a binary decision or is this beyond the mental capacity of some posters here? There are a lot of parents that don’t care. Putting all kids into one class level defies pragmatism and reality. There are after school programs if kids want extra help. As you apparently can’t imagine, many kids don’t take advantage and just go to school for the free lunch and to hang out with their friends and don’t attend class.

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