The Gifted and Talented Charade: Education By Ukase Is a Farce. Creating Great School Must Begin With Parents and Teacher

 Last weekend and next the Selective High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) will be administered … for many kids, after months or years of practice and tutoring.

Specialized high schools are an alternative to private schools costing tens of thousands of dollars every year. Some parents can invest the thousands of dollars for prep classes and private tutoring.

Unfortunately, as a NY Sun op ed piece  so poignantly shows, too many children in inner city public schools, regardless of their ability, have no access to intensive tutoring and frequrently are unaware of the test.

The fractured nature of our school system steer principals to the sole measure of success or failure: Progress Reports.

Once upon a time the Board of Education funded Saturday SHSAT prep classes – middle schools identified kids and supported them … now …each and every school is on their own. In virtually every school there are a few kids who are exceptional, in spite of the surrounding neighborhood, the crime, the poverty, they are the “Talented Tenth,” that handful that are potential leaders.

Five years into Children First the Department is trying to establish an equitable grades K-3 Gifted and Talented Program  and guarantee seats to students who gain appropriate grades on recognized tests. Klein trashes current locally developed Gifted and Talented programs .

Of course before Klein demolished Community School Districts there were a range of programs around the city: the Astor Program in District 18, the Eagle Program in District 22, programs in Districts Two and Three in Manhattan and other programs in Queens and the Bronx. They were created due to bottom up pressures – the demands of parents to school board members to the superintendent. Other districts clustered Gifted and Talented kids in specific schools, PS 31 in District 7 and PS 20 in District 16 are examples.

The movement to mega-Regions and on to School Support Organizations and clear Tweed antagonism eroded these programs.

Many existing programs were far from perfect, criteria varies from District to District. However, many of the Districts provided extensive staff training programs – to create classes without providing ongoing training for teachers is not a program. Simply calling a class gifted and clustering kids does not make a gifted program.

The current administration has churned out idea after idea, program after program, devised in the caverns of Tweed. Holdings hearings after the program is established is typical, and, wondering why parents and teachers are upset and frequently hostile.

Yes, gifted and talent kids are shortchanged, especially kids in the lowest income neighborhoods. After destroying programs and ignoring the problem the Department is beginning to respond. To many it simply looks like a band-aid to resolve a political issue.

Leadership by ukase and press release has become the norm.

Empowering parents and the public school stakeholders in a public debate creates good schools . Magic wands only work in fairy tales.


One response to “The Gifted and Talented Charade: Education By Ukase Is a Farce. Creating Great School Must Begin With Parents and Teacher

  1. The Klein proposal will work against that “Talented Tenth” because of the inherent bias in the standardized norm-referenced tests that the DOE seems to want to use to identify students in the 95th percentile.

    As with so many issues, this administration identifies a problem but has no real expertise or experience to use to solve it. After six years we should have a stable system which addressed these issues. instead we are on the third administrative overhaul, have back-tracked on this and other items, and the system has no clear leadership or direction.


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