New York City has an extensive network of programs for “gifted and talented” students, most of whom turn out to be white or Asian. A new report aims to make the system more equitable by getting rid of the programs, but it overlooks a root cause of the imbalance in academic achievement.
Earlier this year, there was a wave of outrage over New York’s system of selective schools when its crown jewel, Stuyvesant High School, admitted only seven black students into a freshman class of 895. (Black and Hispanic students make up nearly 70% of the city’s school system but just 10% of those admitted to any of its selective schools.) But criticism of both the selective schools and the gifted-and-talented programs that feed them had been brewing for a while. By late 2017, it was strong enough that Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed a task force—the School Diversity Advisory Group—to figure out what could be done.
This week, the SDAG released a report that is creating a fresh wave of outrage—but from a different constituency. The panel recommended that the city get rid of its screening and tracking systems, stop using the term “gifted and talented,” and create “equitable enrichment alternatives”—because, the members explained, “we believe all students deserve to be challenged.”
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