"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, October 30, 2008

More Poor and Brown Gifted Children on the Testing Heap

From the NYTimes:
The number of children entering New York City public school gifted programs dropped by half this year from last under a new policy intended to equalize access, with 28 schools lacking enough students to open planned gifted classes, and 13 others proceeding with fewer than a dozen children.

The policy, which based admission on a citywide cutoff score on two standardized tests, also failed to diversify the historically coveted classes, according to a New York Times analysis of new Education Department data.

In a school system in which 17 percent of kindergartners and first graders are white, 48 percent of this year’s new gifted students are white, compared with 33 percent of elementary students admitted to the programs under previous entrance policies. The percentage of Asians is also higher, while those of blacks and Hispanics are lower.

Parents, teachers and principals involved in the programs, already worried at reports this spring that the new system tilted programs for the gifted further toward rich neighborhoods, have complained since school began that they were wasteful and frustrating, with high-performing children in the smallest classes in a school system plagued by pockets of overcrowding.

“They took the knees out of a program that was working,” complained Christopher Spinelli, president of the Community Education Council for District 22 in southeastern Brooklyn.

For years, the Bloomberg administration has struggled to rationalize the gifted programs, long derided by critics as bastions of white privilege yet seen by many middle-class New Yorkers as a reason to stay in the city’s public school system. . . .

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