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Koo Slams Report That Recommends Eliminating Gifted School Programs

Council Member Peter Koo.
(New York City Council)

Aug. 28, 2019 By Shane O’Brien

Council Member Peter Koo has criticized the recommendation made by a mayoral advisory group to end gifted and talented programs in New York public schools.

A high-level panel, dubbed the School Diversity Advisory Group, was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio and recommended that gifted and talented programs be phased out, arguing that they are outdated and exclusive.

Koo, however, panned the panel’s findings and said that the programs needed to be expanded if anything, stating the gifted and talented programs could be used to help ambitious students from all walks of life.

“I wholeheartedly condemn today’s report calling for the elimination of NYC’s gifted and talented programs,” Koo said. “These classes are coveted by many students and parents throughout the city and need to be expanded if anything, not eradicated.

“Yet, instead of working to increase access for students in underserved communities, this proposal seeks to completely remove all opportunities to an advanced education.”

The panel, however, argued that the program has led to segregated schools and is too exclusive.

Admissions to New York gifted and talented elementary school programs is based on a composite exam taken before the beginning of kindergarten when students are four years old. The report stated that the programs are seen as a pipeline into the best public middle schools and high schools in New York and that the stakes appear to be very high at such a young age.

The panel suggested that affluent families who can afford to enroll their children in a test preparation program have a crucial advantage in gaining entry into the gifted and talented programs, resulting in segregation in New York schools.

The report started that New York schools are as segregated as Alabama and Mississippi.

The panel’s report found that, of the kindergartners to receive an offer to a gifted and talented program in 2017/18, 39 per cent were white and 42 per cent were Asian, while only 10 per cent were Hispanic and only 8 per cent were black.

However, in the same academic year, 41 per cent of all kindergartners in New York were Hispanic, while 24 per cent were black. Only 18 per cent were Asian and just 17 per cent were white.

The panel recommended phasing out gifted and talented programs and screened schools and replacing them with non-selective magnet schools, which are based on the needs and interests of students.

It also suggested that the city should redesign its competitive high school admission process to ensure that high schools reflect the racial and economic demographic of their area.

The panel said that increasing opportunities for children who have a learning difficulty or live in temporary housing or for children who are black or Hispanic was crucial. It also stated that the creation of an integrated school system was critical and that diverse classrooms could increase educational benefits.

Koo said that an increase in diversity should not be achieved at the expense of success.

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People think all the Asian parents are super rich, NOT! Majority of the Asian parents are very hard working people who dedicate their lives for their kids education. Working long hours and multiple jobs. My friends would hardly see their parents, because they are constantly working. All Asian families number 1 priority is Education!! Asian students at a very young age got a goal in putting their lives in studying, while other students rather go out and play, play video games, and other things except making education #1. So, when people bitch and complain about why are so many Asian students at the Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech and other Specialized schools, because Asian students and parents put education #1 in their lives.


Why do we constantly stive to pander to the lowest common denominator…. “cream rises to the top” regardless of where the milk comes from. Why should i feel ashamed of my children’s intelligence or the fact that they are half asian and half caucasian…. Smart is smart regardless of color. Your kid either has it or they don’t. Instead of chastising the naturally smart the administration should focus in trying to educate the lowest common denominator and getting them up to speed-some of that involves changing the cultural morals of the parents-Asian and White parents emphasize the importance of education in their homes and impress this upon their children. When hispanic and black
Parents wake up and realize that is the path to a higher level of equality then maybe their kids “the ines who have the right stuff” between their ears will compete on the same playing field that everyone is on. There is nothing more fair than testing- everyone takes the test and you are either smart enough or your not… OR you work that
Much harder to compensate for the abilities that you so not naturally possess. Gifted and Talented is aimed and taking smarter than average kids and pushing them to reach their potential. The lowest commin denominator should work harder and strive to be the best they can and maybe then they will begin to ascend the social intellectual ladder. Making the ladder shorter is surely not the answer to reaching great heights !!!

Stephen Recher

The program needs to be reformed, not eliminated. Currently entrance is based on a test taken by a four year old child. That’s nuts and needs to be revamped, but getting rid of the program makes no sense. What does Doofus DeBlasio know about anything? The man thinks he his a national leader and will be the next president. How we let someone that delusional make decisions that effect children’s lives.


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