Today, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. announced the creation of a new “Gifted & Talented Education Task Force” to study issues surrounding gifted and talented education in New York City public schools, as well as the admissions process for the city's specialized high schools.
The newly created task force will be comprised of government officials, community members and parents who are familiar with the issues gifted students face in New York City schools. The task force will host public hearings in March, and will release a set of recommendations for the future of gifted education in New York City.
Both borough presidents have been outspoken about the dearth of gifted and talented programs in historically disadvantaged neighborhoods.
The task force will be made up of both borough presidents, as well as three parent leaders from each borough.
"For too long, students in communities all over the city-such as the South Bronx and Central Brooklyn-have been denied the opportunities that their counterparts in other boroughs have been provided when it comes to gifted and talented programs. We cannot send our children to Stuyvesant, Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech if they are not prepared. And we cannot expect them to be prepared if they do not have the same advantages that are offered to other communities. Our children lack gifted programs and adequate test prep resources, among other things, and the results are crystal clear. Through this task force, we will work to change that," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
“Gifted and talented children live in communities from Park Slope to Port Morris, from Bedford Park to Brownsville. Unfortunately, our students' home addresses are playing too heavy a role in their access to high-quality specialized education that taps into their full academic potential. This task force will uproot the causes of these challenges and lay out a road map for a more equitable and prosperous system,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams.
Borough President Adams appointees from Brooklyn are Ralph Yozzo, member of Community Education Council District #16; Melanie Mendonca member of Community Education Council District #23 CEC and Nikki Lucas, a parent at J.H.S. 88 Peter Rouget.
Borough President Diaz’s appointees from The Bronx are Katie Sperling of Parents’ Alliance for Citywide Education (PACE); Dr. Nancy Kheck, Borough President Diaz’s Appointee to Community Education Council #11 and a parent at M.S. 181; and Steven Francisco, Borough President Diaz’s Appointee to Community Education Council #10.
“The struggle for equitable access in the Bronx permeates every step of the Gifted & Talented process. From the tests used for admission and who takes them, to how many seats and where they are located, from the quality of the programs, to parity in K-8 access across boroughs. I look forward to working with other members of the taskforce to propose solutions that will increase the opportunities and representation of the entire Bronx community in the Gifted and Talented system. As a former teacher, as a former student, and a current parent and uncle of kids in NYC public schools, I look forward to championing their interests, and those of all my neighbors,” said Steven Francisco.
“As a veteran medical-science educator, I've conducted education and public outreach in the K-12 setting throughout my years of teaching university and medical students. My goal is to help learners at all levels to explore their passions and channel their potential. All three of my children have gone through New York City G&T schools in Manhattan and more recently in The Bronx. There are major disparities in how resources for this enriched programming are allocated to our borough, and consequently Bronx children are underrepresented in NYC specialized high schools. This is why I serve on my community education council (CEC11) with other parent advocates. I'm committed to advancing the BBP's mission to ensure equity and access to all who qualify for G&T, and supporting the unmet needs of accelerated learners throughout The Bronx,” said Dr. Nancy Kheck.
“I am excited that Borough President Adams has formed this task force to identify barriers in education equality for gifted and talented children in under-served areas. I look forward to serving and sharing my own experience to help other families in my community and well beyond," said Nikki Lucas.
“The PACE group is honored to work with Borough Presidents Diaz and Adams to help ensure adequate educational options for underserved communities in The Bronx and Brooklyn. One immediate concern is the lack of a K-8 gifted school in The Bronx. Over 400 Bronx students must commute everyday to Queens and Manhattan because their home borough doesn't meet their schooling needs,” said Katie Sperling.
“Gifted and talented programs are very important to help our children be all that they can be. We need to have a wide range of programs because our children have a wide range of abilities. The gifted and talented programs also give parents choices that they might not have without the program,” said Ralph Yozzo.