‘A falling tide lowers all ships’: NY Mayor de Blasio hammered for scrapping gifted education programs in the name of ‘equity’

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio will scrap the city’s gifted and talented program, which critics say discriminates against black and Hispanic students. However, the mayor was accused of dumbing down his schools to appear woke.

“The era of judging four-year-olds based on a single test is over,” de Blasio said on Friday, announcing that New York’s ‘Gifted and Talented’ test, administered to kids leaving kindergarten to sort out the brightest students for admission to more selective middle and high schools, would be phased out from next year onwards.

In its place, de Blasio is introducing ‘Brilliant NYC’, a “new and equitable” program where promising children aged eight and up will receive special lessons while in class alongside their less gifted peers. Rather than establishing eligibility by test, the new system will take on board feedback from teachers and continuous assessment, the New York Times reported.

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The move is a direct response to critics who have called the ‘Gifted and Talented’ program racist. Though students of all races are allowed to take the test and pursue Gifted and Talented education, “about 75 percent of the roughly 16,000 students in gifted elementary school classes in New York are white or Asian American,” the New York Times noted. Splitting education by intelligence in this manner has resulted in New York having “one of the most racially segregated school systems in the country,” the paper added.

De Blasio won’t be overseeing the transition to ‘Brilliant NYC’. The mayor’s term expires at the end of this year, and managing the new program will fall on his successor. Eric Adams, a black Democrat widely tipped to win November’s election, is in favor of keeping the Gifted and Talented system, but increasing access to it in lower income neighborhoods. This plan reportedly has the backing of many black and latino parents who want to give their kids a leg up.

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Asian American parents, represented by a number of their co-ethnic lawmakers, also want to keep the elite programs in place. “Gifted and talented programs have been an integral option for generations of schoolkids,” State Senator John C. Liu tweeted on Friday, adding that de Blasio’s “total elimination” of these programs “won’t help his abysmal record.”

De Blasio’s decision caught national attention, with pundits and commenters accusing the Democrat mayor of hampering gifted children’s prospects to score points with the “woke.”

“The gifted children in our public schools shouldn't be abandoned in the name of far left woke speak,” one left-wing Twitter user posted. “Don't kneecap the critical thinkers to promote some arbitrary ‘fairness.’”

Switching over to the new program presents numerous challenges for New York. For one thing, all of the city’s 4,000 or so kindergarten teachers will need to be trained “to accommodate students who need accelerated learning within their general education classrooms,” per the New York Times.

This training will cost tens of millions of dollars, and city authorities face the daunting task of ensuring that every single teacher – some of whom don’t even have to pass a literacy exam – can differentiate between students of differing abilities and teach them appropriately in the same classroom. Furthermore, schools that exist exclusively to serve gifted children will now need to be repurposed, and no clear plan has emerged on how to do this. 

With all of these factors in play, Adams, if successful in November, might be tempted to ignore the woke and simply undo de Blasio’s decision with the stroke of a pen.

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