My Thoughts On Proposed Changes to Gifted and Talented

My Thoughts On Proposed Changes to Gifted and Talented

My son Franklin was also in G&T programs until middle school. (My wife and I chose to home school him for all of middle schools because we knew he would not receive the basic attention he needed to be successful.) My daughter Samantha started G&T in 2006. At that time the program was maybe already two years in place in NYC. On Staten Island, District 31, there were a handful of elementary schools offering the program. As time went on, as the children reached 4th grade, parents became concerned that after elementary school there was no G&T program in our middle schools. I was president of Community Education Council 31 at the time. I specifically held a meeting and invited then Chancellor Klein for a discussion about creating a middle school G&T program. As a result of that meeting I developed criteria and choose locations for what is now known as the Middle Scholars Program, which was implemented on Staten Island.

As CEC president I gained insights to G&T programs, schools, and the Specialized High Schools. The mayor’s claim that poor, minority areas don’t have G&T is blatantly false, as is the reason to eliminate SHSAT. With the elementary school G&T programs, the problem was not that programs didn’t exist in minority communities. The problem was that principals did not want to send their top test scorers to another school. The result was most likely reduced school performance for their school and reduced school funding as every student had a value of at least $23K in funding. So, basically, they didn’t tell parents the G&T test was available to their children. Compound that with the fact that many of the students from predominantly Black and Latino schools that were accepted into G&T were sent to schools that were not predominantly minority, were more difficult to get to ( busing was not promised to G&T), and some faced disingenuous principals who gladly accepted the new students because of the increased funding but somehow managed to convince their parents that they were not getting along, missed their friends, and would be better off if they went back to their zoned school. This recommendation of sending the students back to their zoned school came, of course, after October 31st, when the students funding was locked into the G&T school. So, when the students went back to their zoned school, that school would have the students but not the funding.

As to the elimination of SHSAT, that is another scam being played on the people of NYC. With the dissolution of entrance testing, many of the high scoring students will be forced back into their zoned high school – many will leave the system. However, the result will give the appearance that testing scores and thereby education is increasing city-wide because you are spreading out higher-scoring students across the city.  There is a leveling off of test scoring; not as many schools do poorly and not as many schools do very well. It’s a redistribution of education.