Though Mayor Bill de Blasio seemed to put the final nail in the coffin for the Department of Education’s Gifted & Talented (G&T) program last week, the man likely to replace him as mayor next year has given some indication he might not be willing to bury the initiative at all.
Brooklyn Borough President and Democratic mayoral nominee Eric Adams has given previous indications that he would continue the program designed for high-achieving New York City students, but with necessary reform, should he become the city’s 110th mayor in November. But on Oct. 8, de Blasio announced his administration would end the kindergarten tests for the G&T program and replace the initiative altogether with “Brilliant NYC,” which would expand accelerated learning programs tenfold across the city’s public school system while simultaneously eliminating the screening process that critics say has skewed G&T toward white, Asian and more affluent students.
The Daily Mail reported on Sunday, however, that Adams would likely abandon de Blasio’s Brilliant NYC plan as the city’s chief executive next year. Quoting an Adams campaign spokesperson, the Daily Mail reported that Adams “has said consistently he would keep the Gifted and Talented test, and provide more resources, classes and support to lower-income students to ensure fairer outcomes.”
Pressed by amNewYork Metro for comment about the report, an Adams spokesperson confirmed the accuracy of the statement made to the Daily Mail, but indicated the campaign had nothing new to say regarding the fate of the G&T program.
G&T serves some 16,000 high-achieving students across the five boroughs, providing them with an accelerated level of education compared with their peers in their respective age groups. Entry to the program is generally made during kindergarten, with prospective members evaluated for entry through observation and examination.
De Blasio’s Brilliant NYC plan would push back the assessment period from pre-kindergarten to the second grade, and eliminate the exam altogether. Instead of separating the students into their own classrooms, they would remain in mixed classrooms but provided with an accelerated learning program.
“The era of judging four-year-olds based on a single test is over. Brilliant NYC will deliver accelerated instruction for tens of thousands of children, as opposed to a select few,” de Blasio said Friday. “Every New York City child deserves to reach their full potential, and this new, equitable model gives them that chance.”
Like the current mayor’s plan, Adams has previously indicated he would seek to expand G&T across the city, though he would opt to continue entrance exams for pre-kindergarteners. Chalkbeat reported that Adams sees expanding G&T classrooms as critical toward ending the various disparities within the program.
But the candidate’s own education plan, as described on his website, does not directly address the G&T program.
The Department of Education’s School Diversity Advisory Group previously recommended eliminating G&T, finding that the programs led to a form of school segregation that proved to be “unfair, unjust and not necessarily research-based.”