Mayor de Blasio has assembled a task force to desegregate New York City schools. They proposed a plan to eliminate most of the gifted and talented programs in the school system. Changing the admission process of middle and high schools are also in the works if the Mayor approves.

The struggle begins from Kindergarten with test scores, zoning, interviews, and ability determining where students are to be placed. An alarming statistic when looked at comparatively; approximately 70 percent of the city’s public schools are black and Hispanic students, while approximately 75 percent of the enrolled gifted students are white or Asian. 

One of the most elite schools, Stuyvesant high school reported that only seven out of 895of the available spots were given to black students. This furthers the urgency of de Blasio’s plan to rid the NYC school system of “racism and structural inequality.” Because test scores are so crucial to enrollment in gifted programs, parents resort to private tutoring services. Lower class parents, however, cannot afford or are unaware of the services available for their children to get higher test scores. 

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The plan calls for gifted and talented programs eventually to phase out. After the currently enrolled students graduate, the idea is to eliminate the elementary school screened admissions, in turn eliminating middle school and reducing high school admissions. 

The replacement for these programs could possibly be what they are calling “mixed ability classrooms.” Admissions would be based on criteria according to the select neighborhood. Classrooms would be enhanced with all levels of ability. Another potential replacementis to create more magnet schools so that students can focus on one subject rather than various, forcing diversity.  

Since the news of the Mayor’s plan to eliminate gifted programs, there have been mixed reactions

Tai Abrams, college readiness expert said, “If you remove the screen, you now have a mixed bag of talent and therefore you don’t necessarily know how the school is actually going to perform.” 

On the other hand, David Bloomfield, a professor of education at the CUNY Graduate Center believes, “There are some gifted-and-talented programs that have selected kids at 4 years old, who will be anointed for eventual placement in those specialized high schools. That’s unfair.”