De Blasio, school officials outline plan to replace Gifted & Talented program

de Blasio
Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a media availability at City Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021. Photo credit Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — New York City officials on Tuesday outlined plans for Brilliant NYC, the program that will take the place of the Gifted and Talented program for city kindergartners.

The new inclusive model hopes to reach thousands of more students than the 2,500 that typically were accepted into the Gifted and Talented program following a standardized test for 4-year-olds.

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“We're getting rid of a lot of artificial barriers that limited the number of kids,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a Tuesday press conference.

The city did away with the Gifted and Talented program after it was revealed that the standardized test led to “very, very serious racial segregation,” according to the mayor.

Instead of a single test, de Blasio said every kindergartner will have access to accelerated learning through the new program – though the details surrounding Brilliant NYC are vague.

The mayor said the program, for now, will include additional training for teachers to evaluate different learning levels.

“There's no question, especially with the new digital tools and with the academic screening that we're doing for all our kids, we can figure out the different levels of speed different kids need and support them all within the same classroom,” he said.

Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter noted that teachers will evaluate different learning levels and classrooms will house different instructional levels for all students.

“We’re investing in training all 4,000 kindergarten teachers so they can create rich learning environments in their classrooms,” she said. “[Schools will] offer project-based and enrichment opportunities for all students and learn to observe and identify students’ strengths and use that knowledge to differentiate learning within the classroom.”

De Blasio said the standardized test will be done away with and no new Gifted and Talented classes will be formed. However, all students currently enrolled in the program will be allowed to finish.

The Department of Education plans to conduct community surveys to collect input from New Yorkers over the next two months. It remains unclear when Brilliant NYC will launch.

Democratic nominee for mayor, Eric Adams, said he wants to keep the Gifted and Talented program, but hoped to expand it to low-income areas.

In an interview with Fox 5’s “Good Day New York,” Adams said he would “reserve the right” to reverse de Blasio’s decision and vowed to fight to hold onto mayoral control of the public school system.

A campaign spokesman told the New York Post Adams will assess the new plan and may implement an entirely new program “based on the needs of students and parents.”

However, de Blasio has said he is confident Brilliant NYC will continue past his time.

“I think a lot of people are going to like it, I think a lot of people are going to embrace it. I think any new mayor is going to weigh that,” de Blasio said.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office