No Services for Gifted Children in Communities of Color

Concerned about 'the lack of equality," one mom says

(Image: File)

Tiffany Hall, a social worker, says her 4-year-old daughter can count to 100, use an extensive vocabulary, and admonish her parents with precocious phrases, such as, “You are not communicating clearly with me.”

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This month, Hall signed up her daughter, Aniya, to take New York City’s test for admission to a “gifted and talented” class for kindergarten. But to Hall’s frustration, schools in her district; District 16, which includes Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, don’t have any gifted classes for elementary children.

Her district is one of four in the city without a gifted program. The city’s other 28 districts each have at least one gifted program; District 20 in southwest Brooklyn, which includes Borough Park, Bay Ridge, and Dyker Heights, offers 10.

Some see the dearth of gifted and talented programs in Districts 7, 12, 16, and 23 as proof that resources aren’t distributed fairly. These districts include areas that have long had high percentages of poor, black, and Hispanic students, such as the South Bronx and Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhoods.

“It sends an underlying message that perhaps our district isn’t good enough to have G and T,” Hall said. “I’m concerned with the lack of equality.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio has touted his mission to bring more equity to the system by expanding preschool, adding reading specialists, and boosting computer scienceamong other steps. But critics say his plans to turn around failing schools don’t go far enough; fast enough.

Officials at the city’s Department of Education say there aren’t enough children who score high enough in the four districts to justify launching gifted programs, and all students who make the cut are offered seats in gifted classes elsewhere.

The long-standing concern has emerged during the current one-month sign-up window for January testing for next fall’s gifted classes in kindergarten through third grade.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal.