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OpinionColumnistsMike Vogel

Smart kids, clueless NYC education leaders? 

Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza at Tweed Courthouse, the

Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza at Tweed Courthouse, the education department's headquarters. Photo Credit: Christina Veiga/Chalkbeat

Another school year begins with another attempt to cheapen and degrade NYC's education system.

A panel chosen by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza has recommended that city schools eliminate programs geared for gifted and talented students, supposedly an attempt to desegregate the system.

But this would more likely have the opposite effect, serving no one.

Gifted and talented (G&T) programs have long provided bright, hardworking students who can’t afford private school an opportunity to reach their potential.

The panelists seem to think that because these programs usually include a disproportionate number of white and Asian students, getting rid of them will make the school system more racially balanced.

Nonsense. What’s more likely to happen if G&T programs are gutted or eliminated is that families with children who qualify will leave the system — and school segregation wouldn't necessarily improve. 

The panel also suggests when evaluating prospective students to not consider such factors as attendance or lateness. Now all graduating students will need is to find employers who also don’t care about these factors.

In June, Carranza’s plan to eliminate the entrance exam to the city’s elite high schools came crashing down in Albany. The plan “never had a shot — and rightfully so,” State Sen. John Liu said at the time, adding that “racial divisions have been instigated and fomented by this administration.”

Asian American students dominate the elite high schools and G&T programs. Why is this? Money? Many come from modest means. Influence? Not really. Many Asian families heavily stress education as a way to advance in society. Bingo! The panel ignores this reality and takes the easy way out: Just eliminate academic standards and G&T programs  altogether. 

The tougher question is, why are so many public schools failing black and Latino students? Nah, easier to pander and denigrate the tests. How about expanding G&T programs in minority neighborhoods to give all children an opportunity?  Nah, just shut them down.

De Blasio has had a week to decide whether he’ll implement his panel’s recommendations. So far, crickets, as he continues his presidential bid. With feelings strong on both sides of this issue, it takes bold, decisive leadership to take a stand on this.

Don’t hold your breath.

Follow playwright Mike Vogel at @mikewrite7.

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