NYC May Close Gifted Schools that Lack Diversity

A NYC mayoral commission has proposed the city scrap its gifted educational programs due to a lack of diversity.

A NYC mayoral commission has proposed the city scrap its gifted educational programs due to a lack of diversity.

By Free Radical

Citing a lack of diversity, a committee appointed by mayor Bill de Blasio has recommended that New York City close its highly selective gifted educational programs. According to the School Diversity Advisory Group, these programs have become “proxies for separating students who can and should have opportunities to learn together.”

Approximately 75 percent of all students in the city’s gifted education program are White and Asian. However, nearly 70% of all students in New York City’s public schools are Black and Latino.

The committee recommends that the district’s gifted programs be replaced with magnet schools which group students who have a particular educational interest rather than standardized test scores. Enrichment programs would be more open to all students despite presumed academic abilities. The use of standardized tests would be eliminated and/or deemphasized and high schools would have stricter diversity requirements.

Bill de Blasio has the power to act on or ignore the committee’s recommendations without the approval of the state legislature or local city council. His decision will likely reverberate across the country as his national stature has been further enhanced by his current presidential run.

As could be expected, the mayoral committee’s decision has rankled conservatives, many of whom fear an exodus of affluent White and Asian families. The Federalist called the committee’s recommendations “the next step in active discrimination against hardworking students, for the sake of equal outcomes.”

Nonetheless, supporters of the committee argue that many of the students in the city’s gifted programs are there not necessarily smarter or work harder than their peers. They do, however,  have resources to prepare for standardized tests even at early ages. They can pay for tutors after accepted and often do not have the added responsibilities and inconveniences that accompany poverty.

As of now, Bill de Blasio has not indicated whether he will approve the committee’s proposals. When asked about it on Tuesday, on the MSNBC show, “Morning Joe,” he replied, “It’s literally a recommendation that just came out…I’m going to assess it.”

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