Brooklyn Boro

Eric Adams plans to preserve schools’ gifted and talented program

October 16, 2021 Michelle L. Price, Associated Press
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Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who will likely become New York City’s next mayor, says he does not intend to get rid of the city’s program for gifted and talented students, nipping plans that outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio just announced.

Adams said in an interview on CNN on Friday that de Blasio can’t get rid of the program in the nation’s largest school district until next year, when a new mayor will already be in place. 

Adams, in contrast to de Blasio, said he would preserve the program and expand it.

Messages seeking comment from de Blasio’s office and the Education Department were not immediately returned Friday.

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De Blasio, also a Brooklynite, announced a week ago that he was starting a process that would begin next year to phase out the program, which critics say favors white and Asian American students while enrolling disproportionately few Black and Latino children.

De Blasio said the district, with about 1 million students, would next year stop administering a screening test to 4-year-olds that’s used to identify gifted and talented students. 

Instead, he said, the public school system would work to offer accelerated learning, in which students use more advanced skills such as robotics, computer coding, community organizing or advocacy on projects while staying in their regular classrooms.

The mayor said he planned to hold community discussions over the coming months and roll out the full program right before he leaves office.

“He can’t get rid of it until next year. There’s nothing to put back in place,” Adams said Friday.

Adams said the next mayor of the heavily Democratic city must evaluate the program. He added that he would expand opportunities for accelerated learning and for children who have barriers to learning.

Curtis Sliwa, the Republican mayoral candidate, has also said he would immediately re-implement the program.

Though New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the country, its public schools have long been criticized as being among the most heavily segregated, particularly within the gifted and talented program. About 75% of the program’s 16,000 students are white or of Asian descent, though Black and Latino students make up about two-thirds of students.

Some Asian American activists have pushed back against plans to dismantle the program, saying it has given their children a path out of poor-performing schools and, eventually, out of poverty.

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