On April 14, 2022, the Mayor and the Chancellor released their plan for the Gifted & Talented program. We are deeply disappointed by their lack of commitment to create an equitable and anti-racist school system as evidenced in their willingness to continue segregating students. The Mayor claims he is “expanding equity” and how this new plan will end parents fighting for a small number of seats. The Chancellor says he is moving to “end the era of scarcity” by offering two entry points: Kindergarten and third grade. These declarations ring hollow to the vast majority of families whose children will not be served by the G&T program.
The numbers simply do not support the claim of equity or ending scarcity. There are more than 70,000 students in each elementary grade in NYC. Kindergarten G&T seats of 2,500 amount to about 3% of the Kindergarteners. For third grade, the plan calls for identifying the top 10% of second graders in every school and inviting them to apply. The plan also adds 1,000 seats to the third grade G&T program. If we assume the number of G&T seats is relatively stable as it moves up the grade from Kindergarten, then the total number of G&T seats for third grade will be approximately 3,500 - about 5% of the total third graders and half of eligible students. We want to know how a segregated program serving 5% of the children is equitable.
The DOE press release states the “expansion is the result of the DOE’s engagement with parents and community stakeholders.” Considering the very small number of families served by the G&T program, we are left wondering with whom the DOE engaged. We know who was NOT engaged in the conversation.
Black, brown, immigrant and low income parents have been forced to fight for crumbs for decades. Parents of children with disabilities are not even given crumbs in the current system of segregation. We must not be duped into believing that adding a few more crumbs to a slightly larger pool of historically marginalized students is equity. The ECC supported the School Diversity Advisory Group’s recommendation to implement a School-wide Enrichment Model (see below) to replace the current segregated G&T program. The DOE, under the de Blasio administration, was in the process of developing Brilliant NYC as the new program (the DOE website for Brilliant NYC has been taken down). Yet, the new administration has disregarded this equity work and is rolling back what little progress we have made.
We must continue to fight for equity and advocate for the School-wide Enrichment Model (SEM), which is widely implemented as both an enrichment program used as an alternative to gifted and talented programs and as a magnet theme/enrichment approach for all students. The purpose of the SEM is to develop the strengths and talents of all students.
The SEM provides enriched learning experiences and higher learning standards for all children through three goals:
Many schools in the City are using this model, either as all day cluster class events, across a whole grade, or on rotating semesters.
If you would like to learn more, watch this SEM presentation (start at 11: 15:00) and read about Ms. Halley Potter's Strategies for School Leaders and Educators. With questions about SEM, you can reach out to Halley at email@example.com