News & Politics

New York City Has Run Out of 'Gifted and Talented' Students

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

New York City will phase out its programs for gifted and talented primary-grade students in the name of “equality,” reports the New York Times. The group of kindergarten students currently enrolled in the special programs will be the last to be offered the accelerated learning courses.

The reason? Not enough black and Hispanic students are able to qualify for the program. So rather than offer accelerated learning to anyone who can qualify, the city is catering to the lowest common denominator.

It’s easy to blame race for the discrepancy. The tests are “biased,” we’re told. “Systemic racism” is a huge disadvantage for these children of color. Better to punish excellence by denying kids this opportunity — regardless of race — rather than highlight the absolute failure of New York City schools to educate all their children.

The gradual elimination of the existing program will remove a major component of what many consider to be the city’s two-tiered education system, in which one relatively small, largely white and Asian American group of students gain access to the highest-performing schools, while many Black and Latino children remain in schools that are struggling.

New York, home to one of the most racially segregated school systems in the country, is more reliant on selective school admissions than any other large system in America.

So rather than raise some of the kids to achieve heights of educational excellence, let’s throw all the kids into schools that are “struggling.”

Isn’t it great to be “equal”?

Mayor Bill de Blasio resisted calls to destroy the gifted student programs until he was near the end of his mayoralty. This means that his successor, former cop Eric Adams, will have to deal with the fallout from the change.

Mr. Adams has expressed skepticism about overhauling the gifted system and has said he wants to offer more gifted programs in low-income neighborhoods. While the next mayor could technically reverse Mr. de Blasio’s plan, doing so would be logistically complex for a new administration and could cause confusion among parents. It is still possible that the next mayor could make adjustments to the plan.

Barring any dramatic moves by the incoming administration, New York City will no longer admit rising kindergarten students into separate gifted classes or schools starting next fall. Instead, the city will train all its kindergarten teachers — roughly 4,000 educators — to accommodate students who need accelerated learning within their general education classrooms. The city does not yet have an estimate for how much the training will cost, though it is expected to be tens of millions of dollars.

Offer “more gifted programs in low-income neighborhoods”? Wouldn’t that be better than training teachers who don’t give a fig about teaching any students, be they gifted or not, to “accommodate students who need accelerated learning within their general education classrooms”?

The whole point of “accelerated learning” is to give gifted students an advantage. It is, by definition, “unequal.” De Blasio and the radicals on the school board would rather not give that advantage to anyone.

A group of parents who oppose the elimination of the program is complaining that de Blasio and his radical school board allies failed to get input from parents on the changes. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. Radicals would rather the parents just sit down, shut up, and do what they’re told.

De Blasio tried to initiate a similar program for high schools but was blocked by Asian-American parents who fought the changes fiercely. Ultimately, the state legislature blocked the plan from going into effect.

The incomprehensible effort to suppress excellence in learning will have a real cost in the coming decades. Children whose parents can afford private schools will be able to outperform public school kids and have a leg up when they go out into the world seeking employment.

But using children as social guinea pigs for social-leveling schemes is a small price to pay to achieve “equality.”