In honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday and Read Across America Day, Sheena Wright (president & CEO of United Way of New York City), Principal Font Williams (P.S. 179), Keisha Smith-Jeremie (Chief Human Resources Officer for News Corp) and students from P.S. 179 celebrate the delivery of more than 4,000 books to their in-classroom library. Partnering with United Way of New York City, News Corp donated more than 13,000 books to fill Mott Haven’s in-classroom libraries at six ReadNYC schools. Photo: United Way of NYC

Mayor Eric Adams and Schools Chancellor David Banks Thursday announced their plans to expand the Gifted and Talented program across all boroughs.

Para leer una version en español, vaya a esta version. 

This plan for the 2022-2023 school year will add approximately 1,000 new seats for third graders and add 100 seats for kindergarteners wishing to join the program.

The program is also updating its admission process.

Admissions to the kindergarten program will be based on teacher nominations. Second graders looking to join the program for next year will be judged on their four core subjects and grades. Those within the top 10% percent of their class will be invited to apply. 

Applications for both programs will open on May 31. 

This comes at a time where parents and teachers expressed concerns about the Gifted and Talented program due to racial equity issues. Adams said he is committed to his campaign promise of keeping and expanding the program, which is a severe departure from the administration of former Mayor Bill deBlasio, who looked to end the program last year.

“Expanding our gifted and talented program to all New York City districts is about giving every child, in every zip code, a fair chance and making sure no child is left behind,” said Adams at a news conference. 

Although Black and Latino students make up 65% of all kindergartners, they only receive an offer to join the program 18% of the time. Meanwhile, white and Asian students make up 35% of kindergartners but receive 81% of offers into the gifted-and-talented program, according to the United Federation of Teachers.  

The picture is quite different in the Bronx, where data shows that 64% of those in the gifted and talented program identity as Black and Latino.

Multiple educational advocacy organizations—including the New York ACLU—signed a letter of disdain, condemning the mayor and the Department of Education for this decision.

“We are appalled that the NYCDOE came to the conclusion of maintaining programming that separates and segregates our youngest children, often across racial and socioeconomic lines, despite, numerous reports, community engagement sessions and research that cited the detrimental effects G&T programs create for NYC students and the school system as a whole,” said New York City Appleseed in a social media post.

The mayor’s office said expansion of the program had resulted from outreach to parents and community stakeholders and advocacy organizations. 

“All students, regardless of race, income, or the neighborhood they live in, deserve equal opportunity to accelerated academic learning and challenges,” said New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams.

Currently, the United Federation of Teachers is in support of this new change, finding it long overdue. President Michael Mulgrew said he looks forward to working with Adams and Banks.

“​Expanded access to the city’s gifted and talented programs is long overdue,” Mulgrew said. “Providing seats in every district and expanding options in third grade will enable more of our students to flourish.”

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