Gifted and Talented

G&T, as it’s called here in New York City, is a more intensive school intended for students K-12 that have the capabilities of learning at a higher level than the average public school provides.  These schools are a part of the extensive “choice” program available for New York City students, for families that do not want to send their child to the school that they had been zoned in. Entrance to these schools is extremely competitive, as it is with other “choice” schools, such as charters and un-zoned schools.

To be eligible for G&T, the student has to take a standardized test for the program, and depending on the number of spots, only the top students are accepted. Usually, this is those students that fall into the 99th percentile.  Furthermore, G&T starts at Kindergarten and a standardized test has been created for these children (around 3 or 4) to be able to be enrolled in the program, and test prep courses have been created by enterprising individuals that have seen the need come up.  These preparatory courses cost hundreds and thousands or dollars and do not guarantee entry.

Lower-income families do not have the same resources to prepare their children at such a young age to perform well in a standardized test.  Resources like money, for the prep courses, time to work with their student at home, or even knowledge of what could be covered on the exam to help prepare them. This added to the fact that many higher-income families are looking to the G&T schools as an alternative to more expensive private schools since the downturn in the economy, means that slots for those that live in zones that have poorly performing schools have a lower chance of getting a spot.

According to a new AFT poll, many parents feel that education policy so far has been lacking in effectiveness. 61% of parents would rather the DOE be allocating funds and resources to local schools, instead of sending many to all the alternative “choice” schools. It would make life a lot easier, especially for lower-income families, and also guarantee a quality education to all NYC students, no matter which school they end up in.

Many argue that a smart student will succeed anywhere. However, I believe that there are many qualities necessary to succeed in one of New York City’s most poorly performing schools, not only intellect. The argument that a smart student can succeed anywhere is most reasonable when a college student attends NYU instead of their first choice of Columbia University.  Both are great schools and will help their graduates go on to do great things. However, when we are talking about public schools in some of NYC’s worst neighborhoods, some schools simply cannot provide their students with the college preparedness that they will need.  With this argument, I believe that those students from the lowest income families and from districts with the lowest performing schools are more in need of the choices that are being provided.

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