Parents: Families will shun Bed-Stuy schools’ unorthodox gifted program

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Bedford-Stuyvesant’s brightest elementary students are fleeing local schools and will continue to do so even after the district finally adds dedicated classes for them fall, because the new program won’t be on par with those in other nabes, say area parents.

The new gifted and talented program in District 16 will start three grades levels later, and use a different admissions criteria that parents say the city has still not really explained. Given the choice between the two, families will opt to send their pint-sized prodigies to the standard program in other districts for fear their kids will fall behind, said one local mom.

“If parents have a choice between a District 16 school for kindergarten and a gifted and talented kindergarten in another district, they’re more likely to choose the out-of-district program if they can get in,” said Rachel Beebe, who has a 4 and 6-year-old and is a member of local parent group the Bed-Stuy Parents Committee.

District 16 — which encompasses most of Bedford-Stuyvesant and a small part of Crown Heights — has long been one of the few districts in the city without a gifted and talented program. Eduction honchos in March finally announced they will launch one at PS 26 this coming school year, following demands from parents who have until now had to bus brainiac kids into other districts.

But the program still won’t be the same. It will begin in third grade instead of kindergarten — which is the norm across the city — and will admit kids based on criteria such as grades, attendance, and perceived curiosity and quickness to learn, instead of the standardized test other areas use.

When announcing the new program, schools czar Carmen Farina claimed that it is easier to identify clever kids in second grade than in pre-K, but local parents weren’t convinced, and argued that their blossoming scholars would continue to fall behind the rest of the city, putting them at a disadvantage when competing for seats in top middle schools.

The city will also introduce the so-called pilot program to three other districts in low-income areas across the city where students have historically received low marks on the gifted and talented entrance test — only 36 out of 256 Bedford-Stuyvesant students who took the test passed this year, according to Department of Education data.

But Beebe and other local parents say it has been difficult to get answers from the department about how it will actually assess the entrance criteria, and make sure teachers and administrators are fair and consistent in their evaluations so poor, black, and Latino kids aren’t subject to discrimination.

“It’s only a good idea if the other criteria are objective,” said Beebe. “If you rely on teacher’s recommendations, I feel like that’s going to enhance the problems that are already there.”

The district’s community education council — a panel of local parents tasked with advising the department on local school issues — sent a letter a month ago asking for an explanation, and expressing its disappointment that the program won’t be available to kindergarten through second graders.

But it still hasn’t received a response, and its leader is worried the radio silence could be a sign the city is ignoring Bedford-Stuyvesant kids once again.

“Our chief concern is DOE hasn’t responded to our letter,” said NeQuan McLean, who is the president of Community Education Council 16. “They pushed us and we write a letter of support and we still haven’t heard back from them.”

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Hello, Beverly. John Wasserman. I really don't know where to begin here. I suppose I will begin with a question:
By saying that the kids are dumb, what are you really saying? My guess would be that these kids are dumb (as you call them) for a reason. And that reason might just have a tad bit to do regarding their parents. Now, I'm not trying to start any trouble here on the air like this, but I'm just trying to understand just how racist (on the scale of 1 to 10) you might very well be.
Here's hoping that the remainder of your day is fruitful and also with vegetables for your digestive track.
John Wasserman
May 16, 2016, 10:48 am
v from bedstuy says:
John youre right there is a reason these kids are dumb and youre also right that it has something to do with their parents. Intelligence is 80% heritable [parents] and the 20% "environmental" doesnt apply to first world countries where obesity not malnutrition are the problem with "the poor". smart parents have smart kids. The problem with multiracial countries is different races have different average intelligence mixed race blacks avg 85 while east asians 104 this sets us up for a problem in designing public school systems. if we use the US average of 100 and say 1.5 standard deviations above that as gifted. then you will not get a proportionate gifted class it will be skewed to ashkenazi jew and east asian and away from Hispanic and black whites will be squeezed from both sides because thats politically safe. A better solution is to simply accepts racial differences believe in evolution applying to human beings and target schooling to fit the particular group, its not just intelligent its all sorts of things like discipline teaching methods etc that could be optimzed if we would stop pretending. Now group averages dont mean there will never be a black math Olympiad just there will be a smaller per black per capita than asian per capita
May 16, 2016, 12:02 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
I would appreciate it (and I don't think I'm alone here) if your messages on this board read a little better, if you don't mind. The point you're making is rather cheapened by this. Thank you in advance.
John Wasserman
May 16, 2016, 1:25 pm
Not Surprised says:
Whether the students are dumb or just poorly behaved or have parents who don't support the schools, the result is the same. It's easy to speculate in a fantasy world why parents prefer other school districts, but the answer in reality is obvious. The other students are better. In an enviornment where parents support the schools and teachers, and usually the higher the level of education the parents have tehmselves, the better the enviornment for teachers and students. There are still many problem students in Bed-Stuy schools, and therefore the most ambitious parents will avoid them if possible.
May 17, 2016, 4:03 am
S from Bed Stuy says:
The anti- intellectualism of the reporter in referring to the students as "pint-sized prodigies" and "brainiacs" is not part of the solution to education inequity.
May 17, 2016, 5:44 am
Walter from Brooklyn Heights says:
S - The inequality is in the parents and home enviornment of the children. Parents who don't value education or help the schools produce worse students. You can throw anything at them, but without the right home enviornment it will just slide off as if they were made of teflon. The parents need to get their act together, or their children will continue to perform poorly.
May 17, 2016, 9:54 am
David Green from Williamsburg says:
FasTracKids has been serving gifted and talented students in NYC with the very best in brain and research based enrichment programs since 2003. Our world renowned programs can help your child reach his or her full gifted potential. We have programs available for children as early as age 2 up to 14 years old.

Please come in for a free trial class or free placement evaluation to learn more about how FasTracKids serves NYC gifted and talented students.
May 24, 2016, 1:38 pm

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