Elected Officials Support “Education First” Rally

  • Events

Statement from Congresswoman Grace Meng (Queens)
“Parents interested in screening their children for gifted and talented programs, competitive academics at middle and high schools, and the SHSAT are hanging in limbo. Kids across Queens and throughout our city have been preparing for these screenings, and parents have been trying to plan accordingly. But we still do not know when and if screenings will definitely be taking place. Parents must be provided with the information they need, and we must also know how students will be accepted to these programs and schools next fall if testing does not take place this year. I also stand with parents opposed to permanently changing the testing process, and keeping educational opportunities for all our kids. This has been a challenging year for New Yorkers including for parents and students. Public school families need answers.”

Statement from NY State Senator John Liu, Senate District 11 (Queens)
NY State Senator John Liu stated, “Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza have both made political statements about G&T and SHSAT that are controversial and disagreeable to many New Yorkers, but now is not a time for politics. They must uphold state law and long‐standing school policies, and not exploit the pandemic to make changes in the dark of night without proper public discussion and debate.“

Statement from NY State Leroy Comrie, Senate District 14 (Queens)
Dear Friends:
I wish you much success at your rally in City Hall Park on Friday, October 23rd drawing much‐needed attention to the fact that our Specialized High Schools (SHSAT) and Gifted & Talented (G&T) Programs need to be supported, enriched, expanded and made equitable, now more than ever!
I must attend to a number of important events in SD‐14 today but I thought it critical to lend my voice to your cause. As you know, I am the sponsor of Senate Bill 6510, comprehensive reform legislation that would prioritize creating new specialized high schools as well as build more effective, robust pathways and support systems for all students to be prepared to take and do well on the SHSAT exam. The bill also creates new Gifted and Talented programs for elementary and middle school students and requires eligible students to take the Gifted and Talented admissions exam.
Your good work and steadfast commitment continues to make a difference; I encourage you to press forth with your advocacy as it is not only appreciated—but so necessary! In short, please know that you have my continued support and know that we will continue to push for a thoughtful, rational and empowering solution for all of our children.
Yours In Service,
Leroy Comrie

Statement from Assemblyman Peter Abbate, Jr, Assembly District 49 (Brooklyn)
“Every parent and student in New York City deserves a transparent educational plan from the Department of Education. During this pandemic, the City’s leaders have been greatly lacking in this guidance and transparency. Recently, the Gifted and Talented and SHSAT exams have been postponed without any explanation, leaving these immensely hard‐working students in the dark. Every student is
entitled to a Free, Appropriate, Public Education, something the majority of immigrant families and students depend on. The Gifted and Talented and SHSAT exams ensure that these students receive the opportunity they have worked so hard for. The Mayor and Chancellor have been given many occasions during this pandemic to ensure our students are given a fair, appropriate education. Unfortunately, they are taking this time as an opportunity to push through an unfair, biased agenda. Perhaps this shows why mayoral control of the Department of Education has a time restriction, and it may be time for the State Legislature to reconsider mayoral control. “

Statement from State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Senate District
“As the Chair of the State Senate’s Higher Education Committee, and as a member of the Senate’s Education Committee, I fully support PLACE NYC and the Specialized High Schools.
Specialized High Schools and Gifted and Talented programs have supported and fostered students for years. Several of my colleagues and I were fortunate enough to attend a specialized high school. In addition, I taught at Brooklyn Tech. As a result, we have a first hand understanding of the benefits offered through these programs and institutions.
The Panel for Educational Policy should support funding the Gifted and Talented programs and the SHSAT. We should funnel young students into programs that are proven to be successful. What we as leaders should be doing is working to make sure all of our students have the same access to these opportunities. I believe a student’s success starts as early as pre‐K. Every boy and girl in every school across the city needs to be armed with the same tools, resources and avenues toward programs that can help them reach their fullest potential. All students and parents need to know these opportunities exist, and should be given the guidance and assistance to prepare for them if they feel it is in their best interest.”

Statement from Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, Assembly District 25 (Queens)
New York, NY – “Over the past year I have shared in the frustrations of public school parents over numerous attempts by the City of New York to jeopardize the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) and Gifted and Talented (G&T) programs. Today, I join PlaceNYC in once again calling on Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza to listen to parents and students expressing how critical specialized high schools and G&T programs have been to student enrichment and success – that is why I have continued working closely with the specialized high school community to keep SHSAT and introduced legislation with State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky to require G&T screening of all students to boost diversity in these programs.”
“Now is not the time to pull back on investing in specialized instruction. Rather, we should be exploring ways to expand access to these opportunities as part of our mission to improve equity in education. I thank PlaceNYC for their leadership on organizing around this issue and look forward to the collective work ahead in ensuring students across NYC have access to the educational resources they deserve.”

Statement from Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, Assembly District 28 (Queens)
“It would be wrong to inject any more uncertainty into our children’s education
now. Discussions of admissions standards, the SHSAT and Gifted and Talented Programs, which may or may not result in long term changes to our system need real community engagement, parental input and a high degree of transparency. Our neighborhoods are not out of a heightened COVID lockdown and many of our schools haven’t reopened. Those discussions have a time and a place, but this isn’t it.”

Statement from Council Member Barry Grodenchik, City Council District 23 (Queens)
Dear Friends:
As a council member who has consistently prioritized education and as a member of the council’s education committee, I have serious concerns about the proposals to change the admission process of specialized high schools and to eliminate the gifted and talented programs in New York City public schools.
While I acknowledge that racial disparities in the specialized high schools are a cause for concern, I do not support the elimination of the admission test. The proposal to change the admissions process is unfair to the hardworking students, many from our community, who aim to attend the specialized high schools. The focus should be on ensuring that every public school student receives a sound education and is prepared not only to take the specialized high schools admission test but also to succeed in high school and beyond. In recent years, I have
joined my colleagues at the city, state, and federal levels of government to speak out against the aforementioned proposal.
I have also publicly called on the Department of Education (DOE) to expand the specialized high school at York College, where the existing transportation network can support a much larger school. Such an expansion would not only shorten commute times for many of the students in my district who travel hours to and from specialized high schools in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx but also enhance the outstanding quality of public education in Eastern Queens.
Thus, if the city wishes to address the serious racial disparity in specialized high schools, it is incumbent upon DOE to work with local community stakeholders, educators, and parents to pinpoint the underlying issues and work to address them. For example, the city could identify ways to increase access to the specialized tests and preparatory courses for underrepresented students.
Finally, on the issue of gifted and talented programs, I continue to support maintaining these programs. As I have visited every school in the district that I represent, I have seen many examples of wonderful programs for gifted and talented students. I have also heard from parents who want their children to be challenged at the highest levels and who indicate that gifted and talented programs fulfill those needs; I trust what I hear from parents, who know what
is best for their children. Increasing access to the testing for these programs makes sense, and eliminating the programs does not.
I thank you for your advocacy on both issues, and I look forward to continuing to work with you.
Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik

Statement from Council Member Karen Koslowitz, City Council District 29 (Queens)
“Racial diversity in educational opportunities, I believe, is an objective shared by all. However, I have always been opposed, and will continue to oppose attempts to dilute merit in admission standards for specialized middle and high school programs, including but not limited to SHSAT and the Gifted and Talented programs. I will support any measures that seek to “level the playing field,” but not at the expense of victimizing a class of students by discounting their scholastic achievements.”

Statement from Council Member Justin Brannan, City Council District 43 (Brooklyn)
“I fully support the SHSAT, Specialized High Schools, and Gifted & Talented Programs, which have helped so many kids from my district and beyond push the boundaries of their potential. We need to achieve equitability by expanding these great programs and access to them. This is not the time to get rid of specialized education, which has proven successful– instead, let’s proactively extend these opportunities to all.”