Fourteen Council Members sign letter to the Mayor and Chancellor urging the administration to not eliminate the program

NEW YORK, NY– Following the recommendation of the School Diversity Advisory Group to eliminate the Gifted and Talented program, City Council Members are joining together to urge Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza not to scrap the program. The August 2019 report is the second from the mayor-appointed panel tasked with diversifying New York City schools.

Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., joined by Council Members Barry Grodenchik, Peter Koo, Robert Holden, and Ben Kallos, circulated a letter through City Council encouraging colleagues to sign on to advocate for keeping the gifted and talented program. Council Member Cornegy led the fight for the expansion of G&T through his co-chairmanship of Council Black Latino Asian Caucus, and welcomed pilot G&T programs to Bed-Stuy in District 36.

The core concern of the group is ensuring that high achieving students have access to rigorous and challenging curricula. Given the effectiveness of the model, the group would like to see G&T expanded to more schools and believes that more on-ramps can be created for the program, like exams at the third and seventh grade levels. The city must work to create a fair and defensible school system that stands up to expectations all around.

Rather than seeing the program as unjust, or an impediment to diversity in schools, the Council Members see the program as a catalyst for helping children succeed, particularly students of color. Access to programs like Gifted and Talented create a pipeline to success in academic and professional endeavors.

The letter to the Mayor and Chancellor has been signed by Council Members: Cornegy, Holden, Koo, Grodenchik, Kallos, Vallone, Brannan, Deutsch, King, Adams, Koslowitz, Maisel, Rose, and Eugene.

“At the end of the day, this is about serving the students of New York City, and ensuring they have the resources needed to do well in school and the future. We need to be sure that we are strengthening the programs that make New York City schools attractive. Gifted and Talented is a great model for providing rigorous programming to high achieving students, and we should work to expand the program, making it more accessible to all students” said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., (D-36 Brooklyn). “I have been fighting for years to expand this program, particularly to underserved communities, and I am not going to let that progress be rolled back. The answer to making the program more accessible should not be getting rid of it altogether.”

“Cutting gifted and talented programs serves no constructive purpose and would drive parents out of the city’s public school system, further exacerbating the racial divide that the plan purports to address,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik (D-23 Queens). “The gifted programs in my Queens district are models of diversity, filled with students whose families immigrated from across the globe. Instead of phasing out gifted and talented programs, we should be adding more such programs across the city. There are gifted children in every neighborhood, and it is our job to provide the programs that will truly support and elevate them.”

“It is disingenuous to blame Gifted and Talented programs for a lack of diversity when G&T programs don’t even exist in many communities of color. If the administration is serious about increasing diversity in these programs, it should expand G&T into underserved school districts and give more students of color a fair and equal chance to compete. I join my constituents, colleagues, parents and students across the city in calling on the mayor to create more G&T programs, not less” said Council Member Peter Koo (D-20 Queens).

“Gifted and talented programs have a proven track record in New York City schools,” said Council Member Robert Holden (D-30 Queens). “These programs provide a pathway for students to excel at a young age and encourage them to strive for a great education. Real equity in our education system can be achieved by increasing resources and the availability of these programs at schools in every neighborhood. We must expand G&T, not disband it.”

“New York City’s school system is broken. Children throughout the five boroughs who would thrive in the City’s Gifted and Talented program miss out because of lack of access. The best way to fix the system is by supporting and adding more of what has been working, not taking it away,” said Council Member Ben Kallos (D-05 Manhattan). “The Department of Education should be taking lessons from the Gifted and Talented program on how to improve our underperforming schools. It is a successful program that works. Now that we all agree on the disparities in our school system, let’s work to bring the entire system up and let’s not throw away the baby with the bathwater.”

“While desegregation is a priority, eliminating the Gifted and Talented program will not solve the problem,” said Council Member Adrienne Adams (D-28 Queens). “To best serve our students we must invest in our communities. If we expand the Gifted and Talented program students could challenge themselves at higher levels without leaving their neighborhood or the public school system to gain the opportunity to excel. To tackle school segregation we must start with the larger systemic issues that have gone unaddressed for so many years instead of removing this academically rigorous program.”

“New York City spends over 1/3 of its annual budget on the DOE, and a panel wants to cut Gifted and Talented Programs? This is unacceptable. Once again, instead of building on what clearly works, the Chancellor and his handpicked panel lead us down a path to ruin. We should be increasing opportunity for our students, not taking it away” said Council Member Paul A. Vallone, (D-19 Queens).

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