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New York City reviving, expanding Gifted and Talented programs for students

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Mayor Adams expanding Gifted and Talented program in NYC schools 02:27

NEW YORK -- Mayor Eric Adams has taken another step forward in fixing city schools by expanding the Gifted and Talented Program that his predecessor tried to eliminate.

As CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported Thursday, the mayor is making good on a campaign promise.

Parents applauded Adams as he announced plans to undo a Bill de Blasio mandate to end the program. The mayor is restoring and expanding it to each of the city's 32 school districts.

"This is how we are giving and allowing our young people the opportunity to grow, to learn, to explore their talents and imagination. We are making sure that no child is left behind," Adams said.

The mayor's plan adds 100 kindergarten seats, bringing the total to 2,500, and for the first time adds 1,000 third-grade seats. It also does away with kindergarten entrance exams and the top 10 percent of second graders in each district will be invited to apply.

NYC expanding Gifted and Talented program 50:15

Schools Chancellor David Banks said expanding the program to all districts will expand diversity.

"If you say you're going to put it, as we are, in every district, by definition we fully expect to represent the beautiful diversity of our entire city. That's the goal and that's what we intend to see happen," Banks said.

However, city Comptroller Brad Lander said the move will lead to racial segregation.

"Elementary school students benefit from learning alongside peers with different backgrounds, abilities, and interests," Lander said.

Parents say the new programs won't be just for families that are well off.

"It will obviously increase the numbers of kids form areas and communities that have been under represented," said Henry Choi of Jackson Heights, Queens.

"It's equity. It's all about equity," added Lourdes Gibodh of the Bronx.

"Our kids are gifted and talented and now they're going to have the opportunity and the support to show what they can do," said Sarah Despeignes of the Bronx.

Chancellor Banks said he hopes the changes to the Gifted and Talented Program will stop the tide of parents voting with their feet and taking their kids out of city public schools. He said over the last five years, 120,000 students have left for private and parochial schools.

Banks added this is just one of many steps he's taking to reimagine the public school system. He said he's got more things in the pipeline, including plans to open schools for children with learning disabilities, which is a cherished goal of the mayor.

See live updates below.


City comptroller: "Not sound educational policy"

New York City Comptroller Brad Lander released the following statement after the announcement: 

"Segregating learning environments for elementary students, based on a teacher's or test's assessment of how smart they are, is not sound education policy. We've seen repeatedly that stand-alone G&T programs lead to racial segregation.  
"Elementary school students benefit from learning alongside peers with different backgrounds, abilities, and interests. Let's be clear: that's one of the core virtues of public education.  
"Scaling up a program which separates students, often along lines of class and race, is a retrograde approach that does nothing to improve quality education for the overwhelming majority of our students."   

By CBS New York Team

How will it work?

Chancellor Banks explained the expansion as follows:

  • Top 10% of 2nd grade academic performers in every school will be invited to apply
  • Preference will be given to students applying in their home district

"By using academic grades from their four core subject areas, we're screening students for gifted behavior based off their total academic performance, not just a single test," he added. 

By CBS New York Team

"A significant expansion"

New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks announces the return of the controversial Gifted and Talented program.  CBS News New York

The schools chancellor described Thursday's announcement as a "significant expansion" of the program. 

"In the past, some of our families felt that they might have to fight tooth and nail to even get access or be considered for these programs. Then if families were invited to attend, some were told that their young children would have to travel a long distance, because there was no program available in their home district," said Banks. "Today, we are ending that scarcity mindset."

He said he decided to reinstate the program based on feedback from families. 

By CBS New York Team

Mayor Adams makes announcement

CBS News New York

"For the first time, there will be a Gifted and Talented program in every school district in New York City," the mayor announced Thursday morning with a smile. "We are extremely pleased about this."

He went on to say, "We are giving every child in every zip code the chance that has been denied too often... That denial ends today."

"It's time for all our students to have access to the classroom programs that develop their full personhood and their full potential," he added. "Today's announcement is about expanding equity."

The mayor said there will be more than 1,000 additional seats for students, with entry points in kindergarten and third grade.

By CBS New York Team

Marcia Kramer on the story

NYC reinstating Gifted and Talented program 00:30

Sources tell CBS2's political reporter Marcia Kramer the city plans to reinstate and expand the controversial program for elementary students. 

Adams promised to bring it back while he was on the campaign trail.

By Marcia Kramer
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