New York City’s Democratic mayoral candidate, who will likely become the city’s next leader, says he does not plan to eliminate the city’s program for gifted students and will seek to expand it instead, the Associated Press reported.
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Outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced plans to get rid of the program for gifted and talented students in the nation’s largest school district. But Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said in a Friday interview on CNN that he would seek to preserve program and increase opportunities for advanced learning.
Adams also said de Blasio can’t get rid of the program until next year, when a new mayor will be in office, according to the AP. “There’s nothing to put back in place,” the candidate said.
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Messages seeking comment from de Blasio’s office and the Education Department were not immediately returned Friday.
De Blasio, also a Democrat, 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.
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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 said the next mayor of the heavily Democratic city must evaluate the program, and Adams said 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 percent 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 poor-performing schools and, eventually, out of poverty.