The City’s new plan for Gifted and Talented classes will be released later this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed Friday.
De Blasio let the news slip during his almost weekly interview on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” after a single mother of a rising kindergartener called into the show.
The mother, Caroline, told the mayor she believed her son would have benefited from an accelerated program given that he can already read and write some words and wanted to know if details on the city´s plan for advanced classes for students would be released later this month.
“I’m quite concerned that we don´t know what is supposed to replace the accelerated program,” Caroline said. “Our school has about 35% of the students passing the state exams and I am honestly thinking about leaving the city if there is not something that is going to keep my kid engaged.”
Late last year, Mayor de Blasio ordered sweeping changes to the city’s hotly debated gifted and talented programs including replacing the single test model for admission into accelerated kindergarten classes with teacher recommendations and a random lottery.
There are about 80 gifted and talented programs in New York City public schools serving about 16,000 kindergarten through fifth-grade students. The programs have come under scrutiny for the admissions criteria and the fact that a fraction of Black and Latino students are enrolled in the classes compared to their white or Asian American counterparts.
Even though Black and Latino children made up 63% of all kindergarten students in the 2018-19 academic year only 16% were enrolled in gifted and talented classes.
“We want an inclusive approach to reach the tens or thousands of kids who have a special aptitude at least in one subject if not many,” de Blasio told Caroline. “That’s the plan we’ll be putting out by the end of the month.”
“I think you are going to see something you like because there will be regular opportunities for those kids who have special aptitude to be engaged and many, many more kids than were previously given the opportunity,” he added.