New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is considering a radical solution to segregation in city schools’ gifted programs: burn it all down.
The School Diversity Advisory Group, a panel appointed by the mayor, suggested that getting rid of most gifted programs and screened schools could seriously help desegregate schools in the city, The New York Times reports. News of the panel’s recommendations have elicited reactions ranging from supportive to outraged.
Some cheered the possibility of terminating these programs.
Our communities were denied Gifted and Talented Programs from the onset. For example, I have not one gifted and talented program in my school district. Children have to travel to schools outside of the district to gain access. https://t.co/LC5Puk0TSG via @nytimes— Donovan Richards (@DRichards13) August 27, 2019
As a NYC public school parent and graduate and a scholar of inequality, I wholeheartedly support the School Diversity Advisory Group's recommendation to end gifted and talented programs. #Desegregate #EnrichmentForAll #EqualAccess @DOEChancellor @NYCMayor https://t.co/7jbky9EjCM— Sofya Aptekar (@sofyaaptekar) August 27, 2019
This makes me sooooooo happy.— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) August 27, 2019
Desegregation Plan: Eliminate All Gifted Programs in New York https://t.co/zWyvSixp21
But others scoffed, with some arguing that such a drastic move could hurt many of the same kids the proposal seeks to help.
THREAD: Desegregation must be a priority and I look forward to reviewing this report in full. But, while I support moving away from relying on a single test for admissions to elite schools, I don’t believe eliminating gifted and talented programs outright is the solution. (1/2)— NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) August 27, 2019
Why can’t EVERY school be a gifted and talented school? The unique components of the G&T program should be incorporated into our public schools to invest in children’s academic and talented futures!! #JustSaying https://t.co/N6nUlGVt3k— Vanessa L. Gibson (@Vanessalgibson) August 27, 2019
This is God awful and will ruin so many lives. Gifted programs give poor kids stuck at failing schools a chance at succeeding. I was stuck in a horrible public school until I tested into a gifted program and my world changed. https://t.co/SZ06pqNxxP— Ana Rosa Quintana (@ana_r_quintana) August 27, 2019
As a middle class Latina w a son whose “IQ” is “gifted,” I disagree. I believe communities of color are learning that we need to invest in our schools so that all children thrive and that being “middle class” is a protective factor compared to low income families.— Kaliris Salas-Ramirez, PhD (@DrKYSR) August 27, 2019
Well this is peak De Blasio. He may destroy NYC but at least the rest of the country sees the disaster he has caused and the only people (2-3) who show up for his “Presidential Campaign” events are there for the donuts. https://t.co/aj0llMsknq— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) August 27, 2019
The city has long been criticized for racial segregation in its schools, but the outrage intensified after only seven black students were accepted into the elite Styvueseant High School this March. Currently, the specialized schools in the city are mostly occupied by white and Asian students, while the city’s Hispanic and black students are often relegated to low-testing schools, or forced to travel great distances to attend gifted programs and screened schools in other neighborhoods. This is especially concerning considering the public school system’s student body is 66.5% black and Hispanic, according to the city’s Department of Education.
The proposals put forth by the advisory group would include the elimination of gifted programs and screening for students enrolled in kindergarten through high school – though the seven specialized high schools such as Stuyvesant, which are partially controlled by the state, would be exempt, the Times reports. Programs currently in place would be slowly phased out by not accepting new students, and screened high schools would be removed and replaced with magnet schools.
If the city were to adopt the plan, the city runs the risk of thousands of families – mostly white and Asian families – leaving the city’s education system, fleeing to the suburbs or private schools instead, which would make integrating schools even harder, according to the Times. There may also be pushback from those in predominantly black and Hispanic communities who have been arguing that their communitiesneed more gifted programs – not fewer.
Now all eyes are on de Blasio, who could order the eradication of these programs without the state Legislature or City Council’s approval. Though Hizzoner made it clear that he is still reviewing the advisory group’s recommendations and is not ready to make any decisions just yet.
“It’s literally a recommendation that just came out,” de Blasio said on “Morning Joe” Tuesday morning. “I’m going to assess it.”
NEXT STORY: Takeaways from de Blasio’s CNN town hall