New York City to phase out controversial gifted and talented program

New York City to phase out controversial gifted and talented program
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New York Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioThese are the states where the omicron variant has been identified Overnight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Biden's winter COVID-19 strategy Five omicron cases detected in New York MORE (D) announced Friday that the city will phase out its controversial gifted and talented programs for elementary school students.

The programs will be replaced with an initiative called "Brilliant NYC," which will increase the number of students who have access to accelerated learning, NBC News reported. The current gifted and talented programs are only available to incoming kindergarteners who score well on an exam that then sets them on a path to attending the city's elite schools. The exam is already suspended because the city's advisory school board did not renew it last year and it would be permanently eliminated under the Brilliant NYC program, according to The New York Times.  

"Today, we announced a plan to deliver accelerated instruction for tens of thousands of children, as opposed to a select few," de Blasio, who is said to be eyeing a gubernatorial bid, wrote on Twitter. "Brilliant NYC continues the work of equity and excellence by making sure every single student in our schools has the opportunity to succeed."

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Students currently enrolled in the gifted and talented programs will remain in them, but the programs not be offered to next fall's incoming kindergarteners, according to NBC. In place of the program's entrance exam, the city will determine which students should be placed in accelerated courses based on their schoolwork and input from teachers. 

The current program has received backlash from educators for what many say is discrimination against Black and Latino students in the nation's largest school system. Even though about 70 percent of the nearly 1 million public school students in New York are Black and Latino, about 75 percent of the students in the gifted and talented program are white or Asian American, according to The Times. 

Some still criticized de Blasio's move to scrap the program, including state Sen. John Liu, a Democrat from Queens. 

"Gifted and talented programs have been an integral option for generations of schoolkids," Liu said in a tweet. "@BilldeBlasio promised intensive public engagement about it but now wants total elimination. This won’t help his abysmal record. If anything, his legacy will be revocation of mayoral control."

A panel appointed by de Blasio in 2019 proposed getting rid of the program in a push to desegregate the city's school system.  

De Blasio's announcement comes as he approaches the end of his final term as mayor. Eric Adams, the Democratic mayoral candidate who is likely to succeed him, has said he does not favor getting rid of the gifted and talented program but rather wants to expand the it into low-income neighborhoods of the city.