After years of hemming and hawing, Mayor de Blasio is pulling the plug on Gifted and Talented testing of 4-year-olds — a program begun under Mayor Michael Bloomberg — as he’s departing City Hall.
De Blasio says this will be the last year the Department of Education administers the kindergarten test and that the city “will not be providing that test in the future.” Of course, his successor could reverse the decision; all this move really does is make it easier for the next mayor to kill G&T.
Oh, he plans to leave the next mayor some ideas. Chancellor Richard Carranza vows to come up with the “right approach” by September, and a spokeswoman says the DOE will “develop a system that reimagines accelerated learning and enrichment” — never mind that Carranza is ideologically opposed to any real academic standards.
Testing 4-year-olds for G&T placement is questionable. But parents will see this as a step toward killing G&T completely. After all, Carranza told Chalkbeat two years ago: “Those tests — and it’s pretty clear — are more a measure of the privilege of a child’s home than true giftedness.”
Sure, higher-income parents try to game the system — but only as a way to escape the all-too-many city public schools that barely teach. Axing G&T will remove one more thing that makes it tolerable for the middle class to use city public schools.
Carranza won’t admit that demand for gifted programs — in reality, accelerated learning for kids in an academic fast lane, whether on the Upper West Side, Park Slope or the South Bronx — is a sign of how unsatisfactory the regular curriculum is.
The real answer, of course, is to add more G&T, particularly in poorer neighborhoods, which actually used to have them. Sadly, districts serving predominantly black and Hispanic children scrapped G&T in recent decades in favor of programs serving underperforming students.
This move also suggests de Blasio will pull the “Little Five” specialized high schools out of the exam that state law dictates as the single criterion for admission to Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech and Stuyvesant HS. After all, that’s easier than improving primary and middle schools so that more kids are prepared for the test.
At least one mayoral candidate, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, has a plan for truly reforming G&T. Back in June 2017, he and Bronx Beep Ruben Diaz Jr. outlined changes that didn’t confuse equal access with equal outcomes.
This should be a prime issue in the campaign: Voters need to know which candidates want to increase opportunity for all kids and which would make the school system worse in the name of “racial justice.”