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As things weren’t tumultuous enough for Gotham’s parents, the Department of Education announced Tuesday night 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.
I’m not a big defender of the test for gifted programs. I’ve written in these pages about the foolishness of giving 4-year-olds a test that can decide their future for years. But 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 schools chancellor.
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.”
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