Statements from Elected Officials for PLACE NYC

Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis (Staten Island and South Brooklyn)

“This is a grave mistake and I hope the next mayor undoes this shortsighted decision. Children with high aptitude need to be challenged or they’ll be bored. In fact, New York City needs more Gifted & Talented programs not zero. 75% of students who qualify don’t get seats. Mayor de Blasio is punishing students who work hard and excel when we should be encouraging and challenging them, while helping lift other students to a more advanced level of learning.”

Senator Robert Ortt, GOP Leader

 “Students who have high achieving abilities should be encouraged and rewarded — instead, they are being punished by a push by Mayor DeBlasio and his progressive allies who want to eliminate gifted and talented programs. This ill-conceived initiative will  deliberately hurt high-achieving students and families from low-income and minority communities. Instead of targeting successful programs and children, Democrats should focus on fixing the failures of the school systems they control.”

Senator John Liu, Chair of the Education Committee

New York State Senator John Liu, chairperson of the Senate’s Committee on NYC Education, stated the following about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement amounting to the elimination of gifted and talented programs (G&T) in NYC public schools.

G&T has been an integral option for generations of NYC school kids who learn at an accelerated rate for their grade level, and has offered hope for thousands of parents who otherwise would have completely lost confidence in public schools. There’s no question that G&T has also been the subject of criticism and controversy, and perhaps changes are in order. However, given the magnitude and impact of such changes, public discourse is absolutely essential, and Mayor de Blasio understood that when he said on January 13 that he will have an intensive public engagement with all stakeholders to think through what’s right for the future.

It’s utterly laughable for de Blasio to announce the changes and then claim that he will now engage stakeholders in the next two months. De Blasio’s sudden fiat that G&T will be eliminated is disingenuous if not outright detestable, given that there is not nearly enough time left in his term to have any meaningful public engagement and for him to put any changes in place. He leaves the next administration with yet another mess to clean up, and with public school parents and their children once again suffering the consequences.

This move by de Blasio becomes a most vivid example of how public school parents are discounted and disenfranchised under mayoral control and will undoubtedly be invoked repeatedly as the legislature contemplates extension, modification, or revocation of mayoral control as its expiration in state law approaches in June 2022.

Assembly member Peter Abbate of District 49

“All children in New York State are, by law, entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The “appropriate” aspect of education varies drastically per student. It is our job as legislators, educators, administrators, and parents to ensure our children are provided an education that they can grow and thrive in. Gifted and Talented (G&T) programs have successfully provided these much-needed academics and services to the NYC children that require them. I, once again, condemn Mayor DeBlasio for making decisions based on his personal ideology at the detrimental expense of our children. The decision to phase out the G&T program with two months left of his Mayoral term is not only irresponsible, shameful, and selfish, but will conveniently expunge DeBlasio of any accountability or liability. This imprudent decision will inevitably put NYC’s children at a severe disadvantage in an inescapably competitive world.- Assemblyman Peter Abbate. 州眾議員白彼得”

Assemblyman Michael Tannousis (Southern Brooklyn and the East Shore of Staten Island)

“The decision by City Hall to eliminate the gifted and talented program is shortsighted and irresponsible. Instead of increasing the program to allow more students to be eligible, this administration has decided to eliminate the program completely. This will lead to a mass exodus of students from public schools to charter and private schools. As the son of immigrants, I feel that this decision hurts immigrant groups who motivated their children to apply for the gifted and talented programs and specially targets our Asian-American community.”

City Council Candidate Sandra Ung (D20)

“Without soliciting the feedback of parents, elected officials or teachers, Mayor Bill de Blasio today unilaterally yanked the rug out from under the feet of tens of thousands of families today and eliminated the Gifted and Talented Program mere months before he is set to leave office. 

Unfortunately, this is something that we have seen all too often during this mayor’s tenure. From his attempts to eliminate the SHSAT to his botched return to school plan, the mayor has made it clear that public engagement and discussion are not a priority for his administration. 

Gifted and Talented programs have given generations of children access to a rigorous, accelerated program in the public school system, helping propel them towards selective middle and high schools and universities.

The wholesale elimination of Gifted and Talented does not fix deep seated issues of racial and socioeconomic segregation in our city, which must absolutely be a top priority going forward. The outgoing mayoral administration could have engaged parents in a substantive and public discussion of the best way of tackling segregation, for example by expanding G&T to every school in New York, making the admissions tests universal and compulsory for all public school students, investing in wraparound service programs for students or by creating rigorous after school prep programs that would be available to all New York City students free of charge. 

If the mayor did not want to take on that difficult process, there was an easy answer: leave it to the next administration. In just three months, a new mayor and dozens of new Councilmembers will take office. Rather than leaving the new administration a half-baked plan for differentiation within the same classroom, the new Mayor would have had the opportunity engagee in a longer discussion with parents and the incoming Council about the best path forward. Now, the new Mayor and incoming Council Members must act quickly to bring back Gifted and Talented before further confusion is sown. 

If elected, I will fight to bring back Gifted and Talented and will work with the incoming Mayor’s administration to make sure our students have access to a high quality and accelerated course of study. Throughout this process, I will proactively engage with parents and educators to make sure that this plan is one that reflects the needs of our community. “