Parents continue to fight for elementary school gifted and talented reform

Local News

NEW YORK CITY — Parents continue to push back on the mayor’s last-minute attempt to reform accelerated education in city elementary schools.

At one point, a shouting match broke out between sign holding parents rallying on the steps of the Department of Education and a small handful protesters.

The larger group came to Tweed Courthouse demanding the city preserve and expand gifted and talented programs, which provide accelerated learning classrooms for about 4% of incoming kindergarten students.

But in the final days of his administration, Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed ending gifted and talented programs beginning next year.

Anyone in the program would stay, but no new classrooms would be created. He instead wants to get rid of all testing of 4-year-olds, which is already gone by the wayside during the pandemic, and give accelerated course work to every advanced student in every classroom without separating anyone.

A teacher at the rally blasted that idea saying “none of the students will get the tailored instruction and services they need to thrive when teachers are stretched to the breaking point by unrealistic and impossible demands.”

Earlier this week, the mayor defended his plan, saying there would be more training and more teachers, and all of this would more fair and offer more opportunity to a greater number of students.

Asamia Diaby, one of the counter protesters at Tweed, agrees.

“These parents claim to be for equity, but really they are for hoarding resources for their children and nobody else,” she said.

At the core of the debate is who is in and who is out. In a school system with mostly African American and Hispanic students, mostly white and Asian students get G&T slots.

Both major candidates for mayor have talked about expanding G&T — not getting rid of it. Democrat Eric Adams, a longtime de Blasio ally, has not even committed to enacting the mayors plan if elected.

Adams “will assess the plan and reserves his right to implement policies based on the needs of students and parents, should he become mayor,” said spokesperson Evan Thies last week.

“Clearly the Department of Education must improve outcomes for children from lower-income areas,” Thies said.

Curtis Sliwa, the Republican mayoral candidate, called de Blasio’s announcement disgraceful and said he would immediately reimplement the program should he become mayor.

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