De Blasio Panel Recommends Total Elimination of Gifted and Talented Programs

Most school systems have gifted and talented programs for students who are substantially advanced in courses and need more challenging material. The programs allow teachers on both levels to offer a more holistic curriculum and it also has served to keep advanced students in the public school system after years of “white flight.” The programs however have a majority of white and asian students. A panel appointed by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has now come up with a recommendation to solve that de facto “segregation.” It wants to simply eliminate the gifted and talented program. Problem solved.

Rather than focus on working to identify and cultivate minority students, the panel prefers to achieve desegregation by eliminating the much valued G &T program. I have been a huge supporter of public schools my whole life. While my parents could afford private schools, they helped form a group to keep white families in the public school system in Chicago in the 1960s and 1970s. They wanted their kids to be part of a diverse school environment.

I believe strongly that public education is a pillar of our democratic society. My wife and I sent all four of our children in the public schools. This proposal will only accelerate the departure of such families who will have to chose between private schools, with more challenging courses, or the New York Public Schools with its one-size-fits-all approach.

With 1.1 million students, the G &T programs allowed highly talented students to stay in the public schools and move on to top universities. It is a great benefit to have such students in the system. De Blasio’s panel however views the advanced programs as inequality and, rather than improving the scores overall, he prefers to chop off the top performing courses to achieve the appearance of equality. It is not. These students will be moved back into the general student body. Many are unlikely to get the attention or advanced work that they need to stay intellectually engaged.

The report reads more like a political than an academic document, declaring that gifted programs have “become proxies for separating students who can and should have opportunities to learn together.” For a teacher with a large class, “learning together” means that gifted students have to largely teach themselves or follow less demanding curriculums.

Two things are likely. First, these gifted students are likely to push the scores and ranking of other students down. Currently, students in the other programs can still excel and achieve high rankings in their classes in seeking college positions. They will now likely find themselves less competitive. Classes are likely to be dominated by gifted students with teachers struggling to keep both sets of students engaged. Second, many gifted students will simply leave and calls for vouchers will increase. This will achieve the desegregation interests of the panel by reducing the diversity of the system overall.

Finally, as educators, our mission is to educate. These children have different educational needs. Many students in the regular schools will emerge as leaders. Some simply bloom later. The way to cultivate those students is not to throw them into classes with gifted students but to create a curriculum that allows them to master foundational subjects. They can, and often do, excel. As for the gifted students, these students need to be engaged or they can become bored and disconnected from their classes. They are ready for more advanced word and, as educators, we have a duty to help them progress at their own pace. To put it simply, this proposal does more for the politicians like de Blasio than the actual students.

73 thoughts on “De Blasio Panel Recommends Total Elimination of Gifted and Talented Programs”

  1. “Gifted students”. Some human give them a “gift”? God give them a bigger brain? Mom teach them to read before kindergarten. Dad give them a tiller for kindergarden?

    DeBlasio is what we in New York call a gifted WOP. He is with papers but he does not deserve them.

    If you live in NY then move out now. If you fly over then flush.

  2. DiBlasio is again the worst possible public figure to raise any important social or political question, but I don’t think Professor Turley addresses here the most fundamental problem with gifted and talented programs, which is their very name. If a student is not selected for a gifted and talented program, how do you think that that student is liable to size himself or herself up educationally? Not gifted and talented, therefore undeserving, mediocre, second-rate with respect to his or her “G & T” peers. And the converse, the gifted and talented students deveop a sense of superiority over their “less talented” peers.

    One does not need social research to see where this leads, though there is such research in abundance showing how young people, especially those already socially marginalized, e.g. black people, are set back even further when they are told, implicitly or explicitly, that they are intrinsically less good (intelligence is the intrinsic quality supposedly awarded by gifted and talented programs), typically but not necessarily due to stereotypes. So, the occasional, non-gifted and talented success story that Professor Turley cites does not justify the whole arrangement which is unquestionably inculcating vastly more gratuitous failures.

    Evidently, in the U.S., more money is spent on cosmetics than on education. One also does not need social research to see where this leads. You get what you pay for. The educational resources that are not devoted to the system as a whole without differentiating between students on ostensibly immanent capacities will result in the need for such toxic, post-hoc correctives. This will not be the ground on which politicians like Deblasio will oppose these programs. They will opt instead for “progressive” platitudes like “desegregation” without looking behind them for where the corresponding economic and social commitments need to be made, whereupon the system will fail as Turley explains, because the solution will be anemic, and real progressive politics will be further discredited.

    1. Wortmanberg,
      “the most fundamental problem with gifted and talented programs, which is their very name. If a student is not selected for a gifted and talented program, how do you think that that student is liable to size himself or herself up educationally? Not gifted and talented, therefore undeserving, mediocre, second-rate with respect to his or her “G & T” peers. And the converse, the gifted and talented students deveop a sense of superiority over their “less talented” peers.”

      Yes, this is a problem, too.

      I think the bar got lowered after NCLB.

  3. There is no such thing as “one size fits all” in education. Education is not like ice cream that one can dish out in equal amounts. It’s a process in the students mind and different students learn at very different rates. Teachers would be under great pressure to dumb down and slow down the teaching to accommodate the slow learners, cheating the exceptional learners. Otherwise the slow learners will fall way behind and the teacher will likely then be called a racist.

  4. There’s been a rash of shootings, murders & a $4 million diamond robbery in NYC

    Nobody has been caught. Criminals are getting smart too.

  5. I believe strongly that public education is a pillar of our democratic society.

    That’s as cute as saying the 4th estate keeps our government in check. Public education has become a Marxist factory producing useful idiots for the political class. The G&T students are factory defects that need to be eliminated before they negatively impact the normal students.

    1. I don’t understand why parents with kids in school can’t use their school tax money for private schools. Once the kids are out of school, the taxes would then go back to the public school. Seems simple.

  6. The wealthy parents send their kids to private schools anyway. So lower the bar for all the rest of the students

    1. @bruce

      That’s it, let’s screw the poor or middle class kid who scores well on the test but cannot buy his way out of the system after these schools are eliminated.

      Nice upper middle class, elitist attitude.

      antonio

  7. How perplexing to read about the proposed dissolution of these G&T programs.That’s as illogical as removing special education classes for mentally challenged students who are also in dire need of specialized teachers. It took decades to discover the differences of students abilities and to train teachers to work them, and now de Blasio’s panel proposes wiping away all that time & money, to what end?

  8. Well, what goes around comes around. How many parents of these gifted students actually voted for de blasio?!? Just how doe these retards keep getting elected. I don’t want to hear anyone from NYcity complaining about de blasio. They got what they voted for!

  9. Again, in the ‘minds’ of people like Carranza and diBlasio, the purpose of schools isn’t to educate and train, but to provide emotional validation for their employees, for local politicians, and for preferred constituencies among the parents. In order to educate and train youth without massive inefficiency, you have to group them according to the alacrity with which they can absorb information and master skills. Students are not equal in this regard. Their performance is not fixed throughout their youth, but it’s unusual for it to fall above or below a modest amplitude.

    What counts as median performance (and the standard deviation around the median) differs between phenotypes. As we speak, Oriental youths tend to perform better than white and miscellaneous youths (IIRC, the difference in medians is about a third of a standard deviation), white and miscellaneous youths tend to perform better than (largely mestizo and mulatto) hispanic youths (by about 1/2 a standard deviation) and hispanic youths tend to perform about 1/2 a standard deviation above black youths. So, if you have vigorous academic tracking, your top track is disproportionately white and Oriental, your bottom track disproportionately black and Puerto Rican / Dominican. For most of us, that’s just how the cookie crumbles and not a subject to bother about, but we’re not social ideologues for whom everything is subsidiary to Alinskyite political struggle.

    Again, diBlasio and Carranza are perfectly awful people, and do not belong in positions of responsibility in any venue.

  10. As usual DeBlasio’s desire to score faux progressive points will hurt students and the city. Combine this with his chancellor’s attach on “toxic whites” along with his propensity to hire cronies and you have a disaster in the making .

  11. So, to make sure I understand, if some groups disproportionately cannot meet a standard, let’s just eliminate it.

    After all, standards are racist and a code for white supremacy.

    Similar to, if some groups cannot obey a particular law (the one involving subway fare jumping), let’s just decriminalize it.

    After all, the laws are racist and disproportionately effect people of color.

    The left loves moving the goalposts when their pets (blacks and hispanics) cannot meet a particular standard.

    Meanwhile the upper middle class will just send their kids to private schools, all while virtue signaling to the rest of us.

    On a slightly different topic, anyone want to fly an airline whose ads say, “we put diversity first”?

    antonio

    1. antonio……good point about airplanes, but Obama beat ya to it……During the Obama administration, the qualifications for “new hires” air traffic controllers was changed, for the sake of diversity! One did not have to know anything about airplanes, etc. to help land them! Remember that? Don’t know if it has been changed back from the insanity.

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