Two City Council members have penned a letter to Schools Chancellor Joel Klein criticizing Department of Education policies that they argue have decreased the diversity of the city’s gifted and talented (G&T) programs.
“Despite being forewarned by academics, parents, advocates and other stakeholders that the proposed changes would not have the desired effect, DOE proceeded to implement the ill-advised modifications,” wrote Council members Robert Jackson, chair of the Education Committee, and Lewis Fidler in the letter.
Part of the problem, the argue, is the department’s admission process for entry level G&T programs, which is based on the weighted average of two standardized tests.
The department defended the “rigorous” two-test admissions process and criticized Jackson and Fidler’s proposals to increase equity and representation within G&T programs. The Council members proposed, among other ideas, setting aside 10 percent of this year’s kindergarten seats in each school district for G&T programs next year.
“The council members propose to dilute standards in favor of a system where large numbers of students who score below the 10th percentile on a national scale would be admitted to gifted programs, and where the accident of a student’s address might determine whether she qualifies as gifted,” said spokesperson Marge Feinberg in a statement. “We won’t allow our teachers to face unwelcome pressure from parents who want their child to be classified as ‘gifted.’”
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