NYC must expand programs for gifted students

Take the test.

That’s the most important message for every NYC student in prekindergarten through second grade who is interested in the city’s Gifted & Talented program. Parents need to register now.

The problem is that students don’t have equal access to G&T district programs or citywide schools. Officials say some districts don’t have enough kids who test and qualify. To change it, families must show the demand is there.

In Brooklyn’s southwest corner, a single school district hosts nine G&T programs, plus a citywide school that students from all five boroughs can attend. But in four districts, in the South Bronx, central Bronx, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Brownsville, there’s not a single G&T option.

That’s unacceptable.

The gaps in the system are most acute in lower-income, minority neighborhoods. There are plenty of intelligent students in the South Bronx or Bedford-Stuyvesant. But they are not encouraged to take the test, and even if they qualify, there is no district G&T program to attend.

And there’s another problem. Plenty of students in the Bronx and Staten Island would qualify for the six excellent gifted schools and programs that enroll kids from all over the city, but all six are in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn.

G&T programs provide key opportunities, from interaction with other engaged, high-performing students and additional enrichment programs, to a path to the city’s prestigious middle schools and high schools.

Students without an option in their district can go to a nearby district or another borough. But there’s no free school busing over district lines or to other boroughs.

It’s a vicious cycle. Without accessible programs, some may not bother testing. But officials say if more kids qualify, they’ll consider opening new programs. So, take the test. Parents must submit a request for testing by Nov. 9 at the child’s school, at a family welcome center or online at schools.nyc.gov/giftedandtalented.

Even as NYC focuses on failing schools, officials must pay attention to making accelerated and enriched programs available to all. The inequity must end.