We are outraged over the announcement yesterday on the “vastly different G&T” program that de Blasio shared at his press briefing. Please email elected officials to demand public input as promised by the Mayor. We’ve provided a templated email you can copy/paste/edit below. Additionally, please call Borough President Eric Adams’ office and let them know your concerns, 718-802-3700. He’s still the current BP.
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Subject: Demand Public Input on G&T
Lookup Council Member: https://council.nyc.gov/districts/
Dear [name of elected official],
I am a public school parent and would like to bring your attention to a statement that was made by Mayor de Blasio during the July 15, 2021 press briefing (see below) that is of urgent concern regarding the Gifted and Talented (G&T) program.
He received a question from a reporter asking why the G&T program isn’t “school-wide” where “anyone who is interested” can attend. This implies a pull-out program, and that the emphasis should be on enrichment rather than addressing the necessity of receiving an accelerated education. He also mentions that the program will “reach a lot more kids” but unclear if it will be a virtual program as former Chancellor Carranza had alluded to last fall which is not at all suitable for children who have remained remote for the past 15 months.
The reporter goes on to suggest that anyone who is interested can take a class together. Admissions (before they were dismantled this year) were based on objective measures – so the other concern is that these programs will no longer group children by ability. Many children in these programs are a 1-2 grade levels ahead in reading, writing, and math. Are they now expected to be grouped together with children who need additional support because they might be a 1-2 grade levels behind?
It is shocking that he would introduce an entirely new program without any public engagement which he promised to the public back in February after the Panel for Educational Policy voted down the testing contract for admissions. This has really shaken the confidence of parents who are questioning if public schools are still the right choice if they are constantly at the whims of wherever the political winds may be blowing that day.
If I may, I would urge you to please kindly follow up with the Mayor’s office and Chancellor to seek clarification on:
1) which students would be affected – new incoming G&T Kindergarten students or all current and new G&T students;
2) which programs would be affected – district programs or citywide programs;
3) why wasn’t the public engaged as promised?
4) release any data pertaining to how current offers were made, and to whom offers were made to including geography, socio-economic, race/ethnicity, etc.
I would also request a public hearing/Town Hall with the Mayor to hear concerns from families before his reimagined program is announced as was promised.
Excerpt from Transcript:“Question: Okay, but when you release these latest – this latest information about Gifted and Talented and who was going to be selected and who was in the lottery, et cetera, there was no information demographically, you didn’t take demographic information from the applicants, apparently. So, there’s no way to judge who is receiving these Gifted and Talented services, and in terms of their race and ethnic background. And so there’s no way for us to really know who’s been selected, and again, why not open up enrichment programs school-wide and let anyone who is interested in a foreign language or art or music or STEM to go into those classes and mingle with everybody else in the school and rise to the level that they can rise? I just –Mayor: Yeah, Henry, directionally I think that’s exactly what you’re going to see in September. I’m not going to give you the details yet, but directionally, I agree with you. We need something that reaches a lot more kids and gives them opportunity, and it may be exactly, as you say, more that if they have aptitude in a particular area, giving them that opportunity, rather than this small distinct kind of approach that’s used now. Something much broader and more inclusive. That’s what we’re working on right this minute. To your point about the information, look, I’ll make sure the team today gets with you. I do think a lot of information is available and it will show that this selection process, even though it was only one time, has ended up creating a lot more equity and a lot more kids were reached who had not been reached previously from communities who have not been reached previously. I will show you those facts. But the most important point is in September an entirely different system, and one that’s going to reach a lot more kids and I think be a lot more equitable.”
Video of Press Briefing (begins at the 1 hr time mark):