Queens lawmakers slam city plan to replace Gifted and Talented program with ‘Brilliant NYC’ – QNS.com

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Queens lawmakers are speaking out against Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to phase out the controversial Gifted and Talented (G&T) program in New York public schools and make it more accessible to all children, including increased awareness in all communities.

The mayor, along with Chancellor of Schools Meisha Porter, announced the end of the G&T program on “The Brian Lehrer Show” on Friday October 8, and introduced a new structure for accelerated learning for individual children from the third grade onwards. year that will not separate them into special classes.

“I just want to say it’s a really exciting day and the Chancellor and I are so happy we’re going to end something that I think was a mistake from the start, only one test for 4 year olds that has so determined about their future, “said de Blasio.” We’re going to reach tens of thousands more children through accelerated learning, so this is a really important day for New York City. ”

According to Porter, no test should determine a child’s future.

“What I know about being a teacher and a leader is that there are so many more students who are gifted or talented, who are brilliant, who have special gifts, and I think that’s a time to create opportunities for all students to demonstrate their powerful learning abilities and for teachers to truly tap into those gifts, ”Porter said.

The city plan, Brilliant NYC, will be the model of accelerated learning for all elementary school students in New York City. A city-wide forum and community meetings will be held to discuss the changes, but dates have not been announced.

The gifted and talented students will stay in their program without disrupting their learning, according to the mayor, and Brilliant NYC will be gradually integrated from grades one to three. Beginning in kindergarten in September 2022, accelerated learning will be offered to all 65,000 kindergarten students.

“We are going to have children who fully learn in a classroom where children with special abilities get extra help, extra attention to go further in their studies with the help of teachers, with team teaching in some cases with digital education, ”said de Blasio.

According to Porter, while many classrooms operate with children who learn at varying rates, they add an additional training component for teachers to recognize these talents and provide individualized instruction to students.

The elimination of the G&T program addresses racial disparities in public schools that opponents say discriminate against black and Hispanic children, while those accepted into the program were either white or of Asian descent.

However, not everyone is in favor of change. Several Queens lawmakers have criticized the mayor’s decision to cut the program, saying it should be reformed instead.

Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr., a member of the Senate Education Committee, said de Blasio’s decision to phase out the G&T program, rather than make it more inclusive with improved resources, is short-sighted and inappropriate, especially since his mandate ends in a few months. .

“I think the Gifted and Talented program should be improved to make it more accessible to all children, provide better dissemination in all communities and ensure that every student has equitable access to preparatory classes and tutors,” Addabbo said. . “At this point, any decision should be left to the next city administration, with broad input from city communities, especially concerned parents, to determine what is appropriate for the future of our schoolchildren. ”

Addabbo, which currently sponsors legislation to expand and improve G&T curricula, said the bill would create more advanced and G&T curricula and classes, creating a path for the best students to develop throughout their stay in elementary and middle schools.

In addition, the bill would allow students to be admitted to advanced classes at the elementary school level via academic merit, rather than an entrance exam, giving some gifted children – who may not do well. pass in a test framework – a pathway for admission to these programs.

Passage of the bill, Addabbo says, will give New York’s children a boost and improve the quality of school education at a time when many are calling for lower standards rather than increased resources for children. .

Senator John Liu, chairman of the Senate Committee on Education in New York, said the G&T program was an integral option for generations of New York schoolchildren who are learning at an accelerated pace for their grade level, and has offered hope to thousands of parents who otherwise would have completely lost faith in public schools.

“There is no doubt that G&T has also been the subject of criticism and controversy, and perhaps changes are needed. However, given the scale and impact of such changes, public discourse is absolutely essential, and Mayor de Blasio understood that when he said on January 31 that he would have intensive public engagement with all parties stakeholders to think about what’s good for the future, “Liu said.” It’s quite laughable for de Blasio to announce the changes and then claim that he will now engage stakeholders over the next two months. ”

According to Liu, the mayor’s sudden fiat that G&T programs will be phased out is “false, if not downright loathsome,” given that he is running out of time in his tenure to have meaningful public engagement and to be make changes. .

“It leaves the next administration with yet another mess to clean up, and with public school parents and their children suffering the consequences once again,” Liu said.

Congresswoman Grace Meng urges the city to immediately reconsider its decision.

“The gifted and talented study programs have provided students with crucial challenges that help them reach their full potential in the classroom,” Meng said. “The phasing out of this program is a mistake. Families in my district and across New York City have been eagerly awaiting the start of the promised public engagement process. Reforming this process would be the more difficult choice, and instead of making adjustments, the city chooses the easier solution by implementing a mass elimination of the program. “

Meng says G&T seats should be extended to all New York City communities and the testing process should be improved. According to the member, all students deserve to take advantage of this opportunity.

“They should be an option for every child, regardless of where students live and regardless of the socio-economic status of their family,” Meng said.

Assembly members Alicia Hyndman, Ron Kim and Ed Braunstein took to Twitter to share concerns about the elimination of the G&T program.

Hyndman said the city’s decision is just “bad policy plus bad policy” with bad timing.

“I grew up in a place where being gifted and talented wasn’t just a blessing, it was a necessity,” Hyndman tweeted. “It’s quite disturbing [Bill de Blasio] would end the program when it is about to quit. Leaving a mess for the new mayor and the communities to clean up as they go. ”

Kim, whose two oldest daughters are in the G&T program at the same elementary school he attended as an ESL student, said, “If my children, and thousands of others, are engaged and ready. for more difficult programs, why should they be private? ”

Braunstein called the mayor’s decision “disappointing”.

“For years, G&T has provided high performing students with a stimulating and rigorous learning environment where they can reach their greatest potential,” said Braunstein. “I hope the new administration reconsiders this decision and offers full parental and community engagement on this important issue.”



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