If gifted education is going to succeed in the Bronx and Brooklyn, it’s going to require more testing, better education, and a middle school expansion.
At least that’s the conclusion drawn by the two borough presidents — Ruben Diaz Jr., and Eric Adams — as part of a report the two released in June. The two organized a task force, examining the testing and admissions process of gifted and talented programs in the city’s public schools as well as ways to provide more access and opportunities to families.
Their recommendations include testing all students in public pre-kindergarten programs for eligibility with an opt-out option for parents, city council passing a proposal requiring the education department to include gifted program information in pre-K materials, and expanding middle school programming to include the Bronx.
In this district, P.S. 7 Milton Fein School and P.S. 24 Spuyten Duyvil are the only schools to have gifted programs. Both serve students from kindergarten through fifth grade.
“When you have an entire borough without a single gifted and talented middle school program, and 87 percent of offers to the best schools come from G&T middle schools, you have created a system that is separate and unequal for the children of the Bronx,” Steven Francisco, a Riverdalian who was a member of the task force, told The Riverdale Press last March.
For specialized high schools like The Bronx High School of Science and the High School of American Studies, which requires the Specialized High School Admissions Test for entry, the report recommended that the education department offers free or reduced prices for test preparation.
Currently, test tutoring and preparation with a company such as Kaplan Test Prep could cost up to $3,500.
The education department said just under 4 percent of enrollment offers for specialized high schools went to black students, while another 7 percent went to Latinos. Both were down slightly from the year before.
Diaz and Adams held a public hearing at Bronx Science this past March where parents shared their challenges and triumphs of getting their children tested and enrolled in gifted programs. A second hearing took place in Brooklyn.
“We are giving the Department of Education a little ‘summer reading’ of their own, a report outlining what we believe are necessary changes the city could make today to bring more equity to programs for gifted learners in the five boroughs,” Diaz said.
Lehman College president José Cruz added his signature to the “We Are Still In” pledge on the Paris climate agreement.
The accord seeks to limit carbon emissions and reduce the effects of global warming.
Cruz joins more than 200 colleges, governors, mayors and business leaders who support the accord, wanting the United States to reduce to fossil fuel use and explore more eco-friendly energy sources, according to Lehman’s website.
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg organized the effort in response to President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, which would let each country set its own emissions reduction targets for fossil fuels that expand beyond previous set targets.
Some of the $16 million in federal funding earmarked for the state will make its way home.
U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand shared the news about federal funding from the National Endowments for the Arts, with $65,000 trickling down locally. They include $30,000 to the Bronx Museum of the Arts, $20,000 to the Bronx Council of the Arts, and $15,000 to Wave Hill.