As things weren’t tumultuous enough for Gotham’s parents, the Department of
Education announced that this year’s test for the city’s coveted Gifted &
Talented programs would be the last.
The academic year has been disastrous. Remote learning is lousy, and as The
Post reported recently, for a quarter of students at many city schools, it’s
no learning at all, since they simply haven’t been showing up.
A twice-delayed reopening was followed by more closings and partial
reopenings on the basis of unscientific metrics. State tests haven’t been
scheduled, and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza has openly hoped that
President-elect Joe Biden will let New York skirt them. Middle-school
admissions have moved to a ridiculous all-lottery system.
So, of course, now is the perfect time to rearrange the only functioning
part of the Big Apple’s public-education system: gifted education.
The idea of scrapping the test and replacing it with something to be
determined later is yet another way to shake parents’ faith in the school
system. The mayor and his schools chancellor hate the G&T programs; once
they remove the test, it becomes far easier to simply eliminate the classes.
Why do they hate these programs?
The G&T programs expose the dirty secret of New York City public schools:
Parents want their kids in these programs so badly because the majority of
our schools are mediocrities, if not catastrophes. In 2019, 47.4 percent of
city students in grades three to eight scored at the proficient level on the
English-language assessment; in math, the figure was 45.6 percent.
Put another way: The majority of the city’s students aren’t proficient in
English and math. That’s pathetic and an embarrassment. And it’s much harder
to fix a failed general-education system than simply remove G&T programs
that expose how dysfunctional the rest of the system has become.
I’ve already heard from many parents planning their departure from New York
over this question. They believe that scrapping the test can’t but prefigure
the end of the programs as a whole. They don’t trust the mayor or his
No, this isn’t about parental arrogance. Parents largely aren’t running away
from the city on the belief that their kids are so super-gifted, they need
special classes. Rather, parents are leaving because even if their kids are
on the right side of the state tests, the overall quality of general
education doesn’t do right by kids.
Parents complain that the curriculum is absurdly easy and doesn’t challenge
their kids at all. These parents don’t think their kids are Little
Einsteins. But they see their kids breeze through homework, if the school
even gives any, and not have to work hard at all. G&T education gave parents
the possibility of rigor and of their children learning how to work hard.
These programs maintain the principle of competitiveness, which is both a
human reality and a crucible of excellence. Hizzoner and Carranza are openly
opposed to all of this.
We have another year left under de Blasio, but there is no evidence that any
of the candidates with a chance of winning is willing to admit that our
school system is broken. None has vowed to do the hard work necessary to fix
it. They all seem fine with the kind of mediocrity bizarrely championed
under the de Blasio administration.
After an impossibly difficult year, elected officials should be giving
people a reason to stay, to have hope in this city. People won’t wait around
to see what absurd metric the bumbling mayor introduces for G&T admissions.
Instead, many will finally face the difficult truth: In many other parts of
the nation, gifted curricula are simply called “school.”