What to Know
- New York City outlined "Brilliant NYC," the plan that will take the place of the Gifted and Talented program after it is completely phased out of city schools.
- The newly revealed inclusive model, shared on Tuesday, will reach 26 times more students than G&T.
- The Department of Education plans to solicit community input for the next two months or so as it works to "perfect" its plan, but it will roll out soon, he said.
New York City outlined "Brilliant NYC," the plan that will take the place of the Gifted and Talented program after it is completely phased out of city schools.
The newly revealed inclusive model, shared on Tuesday, will reach 26 times more students than G&T. According to Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a typical year, the city sees about 65,000 students start kindergarten, but of those only 2,500 got into the Gifted and Talented program following a standardized exam presented to 4-year-olds.
"The previous approach was not only too dependent on a single standardized test, was not only exclusive and exclusionary because it only reached 2,500 out of 65,000 [students], unfortunately with that went very, very serious racial segregation that just doesn’t fit with what we believe in in this city," de Blasio said.
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"We’re addressing a new approach that instead of providing support and accelerated learning for the very few, provides it for the many and really recognizes that so many kids' gifts haven’t been recognized because there was no venue for them to be seen and drawn out and supported," the mayor went on to say.
According to de Blasio, the new plan will get rid of "artificial barriers" that have plagued the Gifted and Talented program.
"We are getting rid of some of those artificial barriers. One artificial barrier was a test taken by 4 year olds. I think everyone knows by now, I don’t believe a single standardized test should determine anyone’s future at any age, and certainly not at the age of four," he said. "We are getting rid of a lot of the artificial barriers that limited the number of kids who could get accelerated learning because the previous approach limited that number severely."
The mayor officially announced the long-awaited transition on Friday, confirming a move he first proposed in January. Students in first grade and up who are already in G&T will be permitted to complete the program, but no new classes will be formed.
Instead, the city will train teachers and prepare schools for a more inclusive model -- one based on an accelerated instruction format that will still pay special attention to children with unique abilities but will do so without separating classrooms.
"We’re investing in training all 4,000 kindergarten teachers so they can create rich learning environments in their classrooms…and learn to observe and identify students’ strengths and use that knowledge to differentiate learning within the classroom. This framework will keep our students together not separated out by a G&T label. Classrooms will house different instructional levels and tap into student’s unique interest," NYC Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter.
In other words, a program that once required rigorous testing for entry and included just 2,500 kindergarten students a year will expand to encompass tens of thousands of students -- no additional testing or funding from parents required, de Blasio said. Special instruction will include team teaching and digital components, among other efforts -- and additional monetary investment to train teachers.
De Blasio previously said Porter was the first chancellor he has had to help him develop an appropriate means of pushing the plan forward.
The Department of Education plans to solicit community input for the next two months or so as it works to "perfect" its plan, but it will roll out soon, he said.
"We are going to go out to communities over the next two months there is going to be community conversations in all 32 school districts. Senior DOE leaders will be out there, including our chancellor and then in December we’ll come back with a full and final plan but what we know is that this is the beginning of something very exciting, very positive," he said Tuesday. "This has a lot to do with what the future of the city will be."
Porter said that the community input will kick off this week and take place throughout the months of October and November.
"The most magic happens when everyone has a seat at the table and we are getting out to every community to hear their ideas and feedback on "Brilliant NYC." This is a strong plan but I know that with our school community’s opinions and thoughts we can make it even better…we are starting strong by beginning those district conversations this week…this plan will help usher in a new era of equity across our schools and rigorous student-based instruction," she said.
More on NYC Schools
According to the chancellor, "Brilliant NYC" also calls for seven borough wide teams who are experts in accelerated instruction to work with schools to support the implementation of the revamped curriculum. Additional teachers will also be hired in neighborhoods that historically had little to no G&T programming.
In 2019, the city's School Diversity Advisory Group recommended phasing out the existed Gifted and Talented program, saying it was "unfair" and "unjust" and led to segregation. At the time, the New York Civil Liberties Union said 75% of the kids in the G&T program were white or Asian, even though white and Asian students only make up 30% of the district's enrollment.
When NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza resigned earlier this year, there were widespread reports that at the core of his departure was a dispute with de Blasio over the pace of eliminating the gifted classes.
Friday's unexpected announcement came one day after a scathing report by the city's inspector general found the mayor misused his security detail for personal purposes -- including shuttling his children around. It also comes amid reports the mayor has begun telling associates he will run for governor next year.