Racism

NYC Scrapping Gifted and Talented Program Is a Triumph of Redefining Language

Branding disparate racial outcomes as "segregation" is an effective way in Democratic polities to tear down programs some progressives don't like.

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As has been telegraphed for years now, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on his way out of office has announced the wind-down of his school system's Gifted and Talented program.

The move is more symbolic than seismic—in a K-12 system with an estimated (though obfuscated) 900,000 or so students, only around 2,000 kindergartners will be materially affected by the change next fall, and the likely incoming mayor, Eric Adams, has said that he prefers expanding, not euthanizing, the G&T program. Basing any large educational fork in the road on a 4-year-old taking a test has always struck me as bizarre, so if Adams revives gifted tracks, I hope he changes the qualifications.

But at a time when public-school gifted programs across the continent are being dismantled in the name of "equity," the decision accelerates the progressive policy trend of working backward from concentrations of educational status—whether gifted programs, specialized high schools, or even just institutions with a positive reputation—then measuring the racial composition of students and declaring the results evidence of "segregation" if there are too few black and Latino participants.

"The highly selective program, which has become a glaring symbol of segregation in New York City public schools, will be replaced for incoming students," ran the subhed in today's New York Times article by activist education reporter Eliza Shapiro. And don't blame the headline writer—the piece is shot through with such loaded, contestable language, from the opening words: "Mayor Bill de Blasio will overhaul New York City's highly selective, racially segregated gifted and talented education classes." More:

The gradual elimination of the existing program will remove a major component of what many consider to be the city's two-tiered education system, in which one relatively small, largely white and Asian American group of students gain access to the highest-performing schools, while many Black and Latino children remain in schools that are struggling.…

Some parents and researchers argue that the programs worsen segregation and weaken instruction for children who are not in the gifted track.

New York, which is more reliant on selective admissions than any other large system in America, is home to one of the most racially segregated school systems in the country….

Though the mayor has long promised to tackle inequality in city schools, he has faced criticism for not taking more forceful action on desegregation until the end of his mayoralty.

And so forth.

I've been swimming in this language for so long that it mostly rolls off my back, but today's move and the journalistic coverage thereof mark a noteworthy triumph for the persistent, intentional redefinition of language to serve activist ends.

For years, much to my naive bafflement, it was front-page news that the mayor refused to characterize his own school system as "segregationist." No, really: "De Blasio Won't Call New York Schools 'Segregated,'" ran one New York Times headline. The mayor "has spent the last 5 years avoiding use of the word 'segregation,'" Shapiro complained on Twitter in February 2019. How could the utterance of a single word by a single person matter so much?

Well, the activists were onto something. When de Blasio finally cracked in March 2019—"this old system…has perpetuated massive segregation—not just segregation, massive segregation," he told WNYC's Brian Lehrer—it heralded a sharp turn in the mayor's support for the far-left educational approach to racial equity.

In the ensuing months, de Blasio, amid an ill-fated presidential run, declared his "hate" for charter schools and "high stakes testing," accused (through a spokeswoman) critics of his controversial then-Chancellor Richard Carranza for leading a "racially charged smear campaign," and removed all selective entrance requirements for schools, defending the latter move thusly: "I like to say very bluntly: Our mission is to redistribute wealth."

By finally endorsing the activists' deliberate conflation of the two importantly different meanings of the word segregation, so that disproportionate clusters of racial compositions within various institutions could be seen as interchangeable with the government-enforced, race-based denial of access to said institutions, de Blasio not only added legitimacy to the disreputable political tactic of branding policy skeptics as racist, he developed noticeable enthusiasm for their agenda as well.

Will that agenda succeed on its own terms of integrating schools, let alone on the hopefully broader goal of improving educational outcomes for individual children? One initially worrying sign from the point of view of professed school-desegregationists is that the early adopters of de Blasio's equity agenda were bleeding enrollment even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Districts that rapidly shed population do not tend to become more integrated; they also lose funding and public support. It also doesn't help that the people pushing hardest for "equity"-based policies are frequently the loudest about trying to shut down the charter school option for families trapped in the residential zones of bad schools.

But perhaps the greatest long-term threat to those who equate racism with disproportionate racial outcomes is that the rest of us will begin to take them seriously. Which is to say, the greatest single racial-disparity story in public education over the past year and a half has been the devastating effects of school closures on poor and minority communities. Those closures were supported most materially by some of the same groups preaching loudest about school desegregation and anti-charter animus: teachers unions.

The best way to improve educational outcomes for all individuals is not to close down avenues enjoyed by a select few, but to give everyone potential access to the maximum number of quality options. Easier said than done, but never accomplished by a system of one-size-fits-all.

Related: Bureaucrats Are Trying to 'Control' School Choice.

NEXT: Legends of the Hidden Temple: the Reboot Nobody Asked for or Wanted

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  1. Shit.

    Jon Gruden about to get cancelled.

    1. Let’s go Brandon

  2. It was MGM before it was GATES then Gifted and Talented — the Mentally Gifted was change because it would hurt the feelings of the not mentally gifted or something. In my day the same trends happened, holding back the achievers in public schools. Running to the lowest common denominator, but then it was because they didn’t want to hurt anyone’s “self esteem”.

    MGM was the only place some kids learned ANYTHING in school. At least elementary. Once they started making the ones who achieved slow down school became a horrible slog for them. MGM/GATES/G&T was the one and only outlet where they could work at their own pace, outside of the curriculum. Self Esteem based education destroyed it.

    It came back in my Niece’s day, after the ’80s PC trend subsided. She’s as smart a girl as anyone, did high school in 3 years and was bored, smart. If it wasn’t for GATES and a magnet school, she’d have been miserable the whole time.

    Now they have to kill it again, I guess. This makes me really sad.

    1. I’ve seen really smart kids drop out because the slow pace bored them so much that they didn’t care, their grades suffered so much that the admins put them into special-ed, so the kids were like fuck you and dropped out.

    2. I was in G&T through early elementary and it kept me interested in school. When we moved to a district without G&T, I languished. I aced all my classes from boredom up through middle school. But I hadn’t learned how to study or really even pay attention in class. It is easy to learn shit when your teacher is repeating it 5 times to the rest of the class, and asking you to teach the slower students at the back of the room. But when I got to High School, I had no note-taking or study skills and it was a monumental struggle to learn those skills while also trying to keep up with kids who HAD been in G&T their entire lives.

      1. Overt, I understand exactly what you are saying. It is true. I too was in G&T program K-8, but with a twist. The G&T students were combined with slower learners. The belief was that the G&T students would ‘lift’ the slower learners. That is what happened in my upper middle class town in the 70’s and 80’s. And our school system was among the top 10% in NJ. This thinking completely ignores the reality and experience of human life.

        What happens when you combine G&T students with slower learners is the opposite. The G&T students learn less and do less well; slower learners are the ones dragging them down. It is like that in many areas of life; only rarely does the upper ‘lift’ the lower.

        1. The belief was that the G&T students would ‘lift’ the slower learners

          Affirmative Action is the same belief and the same results. It may be time to recognize and admit that it isn’t racism that is keeping anyone down.

        2. Correct. Pace matters, and the wizards combining g&t with others broke that – probably both sides. When it comes to school… boredom kills: grades, enjoyment, and futures.

  3. If the parents are gifted or talented, they already left New York, city and state.

      1. Reason needs a like button.
        I agree.

    1. Nah, according to Rev Artie, the gifted and talented are only in the deep blue states.

      1. Consider the source, a bigoted, biased dimwit with totalitarian and oral rape fetishes.

    1. Disparate impact always lurking the the shadows.

      1. in the shadows.

  4. Per the picture on the article, I remember I mentioned some time ago in a thread something about white politicians using black people as props in their photo ops, and I was told I was suffering from fever dreams.

    1. Re: current VP.

    2. I must be experiencing the same fever. That is all I see from the left.

  5. Is Matt Welch running for president of the Park Slope White Citizens Council?

    1. Park Slope Karen in Chief

  6. >>white and Asian American group of students gain access to the highest-performing schools

    like, out of PS119 and over to Bishop Eustace?

  7. Harrison Bergeron linked below if any youth of today are not familiar with the work.

    https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxtc3JlZG1hbmVuZ2xpc2h8Z3g6MjdlZjYzZmNmMjFjMjgxZA

    1. You beat me to it..I was also going to use animal farm….all animals are equal but some are more equal than others

    2. From the Shapiro NYT article quoted in the Welch piece:
      “…in which one relatively small, largely white and Asian American group of students gain access to the highest-performing schools, while many Black and Latino children remain in schools that are struggling.…”

      Please read it again, and think about what is really being said here. It’s really quite “through the looking glass.” Shapiro seems to think that if we could just put more Black and Latino children in “the highest performing schools,” they would be better off somehow. Condeming them to “schools that are struggling” is the reason they are not doing well. Do I have that right? Does Shaprio have a definition of “highest performing schools” that she would like to share? What does it mean to be a high performance school, or a struggling school? Perhaps a favorite boast of mine would help to clarify. I can raise the test scores of nearly any school OVERNIGHT, simply by replacing its students with the children of Korean immigrants.

      1. The same could be said about many immigrant’s children.

  8. I don’t live in NYC and I don’t want to speak out of turn here but, is it possible that Bill Deblasio is not just a big loveable dummy but actually a cynical piece of shit? Just throwing that out there.

    1. He’s a lefturd piece of shit.

      -jcr

    2. piece of shit

      When describing de Blasio you can prefix that with pretty much any adjective you like and you’ll be good to go.

      1. I used a random adjective generator to test this hypothesis and will present to you my top 10 out of the first 100 generated:

        Watery Piece of Shit
        Boundless Piece of Shit
        Homeless Piece of Shit
        Organic Piece of Shit
        Well-groomed Piece of Shit
        Inner Piece of Shit
        Tenuous Piece of Shit
        Motionless Piece of Shit
        Ethereal Piece of Shit
        Jobless Piece of Shit

  9. When I was in school they called it TAG. Talented and Gifted. Never heard of GAT. Seems more like a way Europeans make stuff more expensive.

  10. Sixth Nuclear Power?
    Boston Globe

  11. If educational segregation is such a bad thing, then surely the lefties will want to dismantle universities’ minorities-only commencement and graduation ceremonies, dorms and student unions.

    Or maybe not.

    1. Or perhaps forbid schools from keeping Asian students out.

      1. Also forbids them from hiring leftists.

  12. Mayor Bill de Blasio on his way out of office has announced the wind-down of his school system’s Gifted and Talented program

    Hard to “Both Sides!” this one.

      1. I don’t doubt his abilities in this area for a moment.

  13. No Child Allowed Ahead

  14. Texas designates G&T in 5th grade.

    But I don’t think it prevents kids from joining later.

    That’s old enough to know which is which.

    1. Worked for me. Tested in 4th and placed in the program in 5th. There was no G&T program in high school in the 80s though so after 8th grade the closest option was honors (now AP) classes. In the 11th grade, I once took a regular English class and we covered the same material that I had learned as a freshman.

    2. This is an important point. If NY really sets aside a different tract that begins at kindergarten, it likely is just a class based segregation system for the public schools.

      Developmental differences in early years mean you cannot reliable find the top 10% in preschool… That will be almost entirely down to age and what training has gone in to their pretest lives… Which is a nice proxy for wealth.

      In my area the private schools bolster their test scores by recommending that parents of boys give their sons “the gift of a year”, holding them back before enrolling in elementary so they can catch up developmentally. So the average age of the boys in private schools is nearly a year older…. Tricky when physical development is way more important than anything happening in the classroom.

      In Florida gifted testing has an impact around the 3rd grade… But kids can be designated gifted at any time. It is not a simple test score, there are several criteria. Being designated as gifted is similar to being designated with any learning condition… Kids get a specifically designed education plan that is periodically reviewed by specialist administrators… The same thing happens if they have ADHD or non native speakers. They get extra resources… Specially trained teachers, grouped with similar students, etc.

      It is what allows schools to maximize the success of each individual student.

      This, as all good progressives know, is evil.

      1. I attended a county gifted school in Florida. From conversations with friends still in the State it is my understanding that parents can now hire private testing in order to qualify a child for admission.

        So gifted has become something of a double entendre.

  15. ‘But at a time when public-school gifted programs across the continent are being dismantled in the name of “equity,”‘

    That’s right, we can’t recognize that some people are better, because that might skew the distribution of outcomes.

    On the other hand, all woke progs know that many people are worse than others–and that is the proper criterion to skew the distribution of outcomes.

  16. measuring the racial composition of students and declaring the results evidence of “segregation” if there are too few black and Latino participants.

    Just a doggone minute. How can race be an imaginary social construct if it’s evidence of “segregation”?

    1. Well look at how few Catholics and how many Jews are at Ivy League Schools compared to their % in society..damn discrimination…need a Catholic quote NOW

  17. It is known that if a program relies on concrete measurements to be a part of it, say test scores, then it must by definition be racist since non-white races are inherently dumber than white races.

    This is basically the talking point put forward by progressives, they just wrap it with nicer words. Which would be funny, since it’s what they’ve been saying for just about a hundred years, except it’s also intensely disgusting.

    1. What is worse is that our public discourse is defined by these people. The news, TV entertainment, the movies… All dominated by people who adhere to this ideology.

      So instead of comedians exposing our shortcomings by satirizing the elites who are preventing the middle class from getting a good education for their kids, Saturday Night Live lampoons parents who complain about school policies that negatively affect their kids as ignorant rubes who are too stupid and too easily misled to be allowed to speak in public.

  18. People. They’re the worst.

  19. Progressive/Social Justice goal is to transform all people to the lowest common level of mediocrity. A complete intolerance for the concept of mediocrity.

    1. No, it is much worse than that.

      They want you and yours kept in poverty, ignorance and meniality while their kids go to private schools and are groomed to be the executives who get to run things and make bank, while your kids work for them and are grateful that they have such great progressive leaders fighting for them.

  20. Math is racist, science is racist, everything is racist but wait…the NBA is not racist, the NFL is not racist, HR departments are not racist..the media is not racist, hollywood is not racist (ok that is an interesting one…), Federal Agency workers are not racist. The Apollo Space program was def racist though..we need to take down the remaining rockets and admit “whitey never made it to the moon” cause that would be racist.

    1. Don’t call them white then.
      Call them “lunar accessing people” and be done with it.

      1. The correct term is Lunar Privileged

  21. NY taking action to curb their own talent and innovation potential?

    Nothing new about that. Nothing bad about that.

  22. Just give everyone straight As and a Harvard diploma. No need to go to school or even learn how to wipe your butt

  23. My take: I ended up transferring to a suburban elementary school that had dominated the state for a long time … in a very large state. I was thrust into the second semester of 4th grade, having spent my first half in a rural public school with mediocre teachers.

    Fast forward to today: The rural school district is literally the fastest growing town in the US and probably has a really good public school program. It’s like the suburbs now, complete with big-city traffic congestion. The once-suburban school I went to has declined extensively into an inner-city disaster due to changing “demographics.”

    My story is that when I arrived into this well-respected, middle-class elementary school, I was “behind” in math because of my rural-school’s stupid curriculum for the 4th grade. But I was about to enter into this “gifted and talented” program because of what happened. There was this “optional” math test that we all took in class. Turned out it was a competition among 4th graders across the state.

    This hick scored a 36 out of 40… with only one or two in the school scoring higher. I went on to be in the G&T organization for a few years before the same thing happened when I moved to another school and got put behind … in math, again. The new school (another quasi-rural one) didn’t “do” that. I wish they had.

    It cost me some money, lol. I ended up playing catch-up in high school in math. I doubled up, took college level calculus my Jr-Sr year summer break, and ended up ahead of my peers finally by 12th grade. I wish the G&T program had been more accessible to me.

    But that’s ok. I graduated valedictorian after having been taking the “wrong” classes in 8th grade due to my transfer. Turns out I didn’t need their stupid low-level classes, I was able to excel without them. Only took one Advanced Placement class … sadly, English, the only one offered.

    1. You may have done better without AP.

      I took all the AP that was offered at my small school, and took tests for classes that were not offered and placed out of several first and some second year courses.

      So I start college basically as a sophomore, but taking a couple of junior classes in math.

      Which I was totally unprepared for. In my high school, real studying was unnecessary. They would repeat everything in class for 2 weeks. Reading a novel was optional… Everything relevant would be covered in class.

      I had not a single clue how to take college classes. I was so far behind in my calculus III class that the professor had a tough time figuring out what I was even asking when I went to him for help. He finally said “oh.. This! This is from math 032. Go find a textbook.”.

      I was a couple of weeks past my 18th birthday and so far over my head it was comical.

      It turns out, I am really good at multiple choice, which is not the same thing as being an expert in a subject. It took me the better part of 2 years to figure out how to do college. If I had been doing that in introductory courses, I could have figured it out with a high GPA. As it was…. Yeesh. My transcript looks like 2 different people.

  24. We are unwilling to pay for an adequate education for everyone therefore none should escape the noose of socialized solutions to purely personal problems.

  25. BY now it’s a well known fact that progressives and their policies are to blame for the poor performance of community schools. The progressive stance is that blacks are children and treated as thus. They will never amount to anything so let’s just educate them enough to keep voting for progressive politicians like LBJ, Lori Lightfoot and deBlasio.
    Meanwhile those blacks who do make something of themselves by becoming successful in business, journalism or politics or by working hard are railed at for their conservative views.
    Remember the reaction of the L.A. Times , another progressive newspaper, that labeled Larry Elder the black face of white supremacism.,
    The problem all goes back to progressives and their faulty thinking.

    1. I really enjoyed how the media demonized the black guy who came from Compton as the black face of white supremacy.
      And the elitist white guy from the suburbs as the better candidate

  26. Nothing makes the injustice of both progressive policy and the current DEI horseshit more clear than a policy of deliberately stunting the intellectual growth of some for the good of the many. All due to some fantasy based on ethnicity. The progressive myth of racism equaling power plus privilege appears to be correct. As would be expected, the people who have the power and privilege are not those whom the rhetoric indicates. Additionally, primary school was mind-numbingly boring without shackling the brightest to the dimmest. Congratulations of making school suck more.

  27. Liberal ‘thinking’: If you can’t elevate the low, lower the high. Since the low are the majority, screw the high.

  28. Are NYC varsity basketball teams “racially balanced”? If not should eliminate all varsity designations and make all teams open to everyone?

    1. Blacks make up only ~2% of the farm labor force. We really ought to end public schooling and sports in order to get more black people out in the fields.

  29. The best way to insure mediocrity on a national scale is to eliminate Talented & Gifted programs from public schools. I have two kids who qualified and one who due to dyslexia was in Special Education. All children need to be met where they are at, but it seems that the Progressives are intent on hamstringing our best and brightest for the cause of self-esteem over academic excellence. What should I tell my grandson, youngest in his sixth grade class, who is already in Algebra and Biology courtesy of T&G classes? He is in a diverse class where all cultures are represented. Have these progressives ever considered there are more white kids in these programs because there are more white people in this nation? And what would eliminating these programs due to minority students who qualify? Would it prevent the later acquisition of scholarships and grants? This is envy at its worst. It will serve no one well and indeed will create just a faster exodus from public schools, which in turn means fewer dollars and fewer people willing to support public education. Full disclosure, I’m a retired teacher who taught T&G students for years. Failure to address the needs of this group is criminal.

    1. “The best way to insure mediocrity on a national scale”

      To quote a computer programmer friend of mine, that’s a feature, not a bug. Mediocrity can be bought off and controlled.

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  31. The word “truth” is meant to convey the attribute to communication that it is shared and accepted by all rational people.

    In contrast the word of the year for 2016 was “post truth” meaning facts are less important than emotion in rational communication.

    Emotions are different for everyone. There is no guarantee that people will share and accept them. The word “post truth” represents a meaning which is a lie creating a conflict.

    Whenever a word has more than one unambiguous definition for the context in which it is used rational communication is impossible.

    Changing the meaning of words creates unresolveable conflicts in society. It is a tactic employed by unethical people to do wrong.

  32. Basing any large educational fork in the road on a 4-year-old taking a test has always struck me as bizarre

    Somebody’s 4-year-old can’t do algebra.

    Good on you for not holding other 4-year-olds back (sorta) because of that.

  33. There was no “both sides” passage in this article.

    I thought a “both sides” argument was mandatory for Reason articles?

  34. then measuring the racial composition of students and declaring the results evidence of “segregation” if there are too few black and Latino participants.

    It’s revealing they never apply this procedure to say…basketball. It might lead them to conclude that interest plays a big part in motivation and achievement and they will do anything to prevent reaching that conclusion.

  35. You can’t just put all students in together. The slow will drag the quick, and the quick will humiliate the slow. I got all the way through school without being bullied except one time, and it was because it was an on-level art class. Being able to be around other semi-autistic types created great natural friendships and provided a safe space for us all.

    Then that one damn art class, I got the one-size-fits-all experience, and got literally bopped on the head by a big scary black guy. I am not, to this day, a great visual artist.

    1. Safe spaces are exactly what your types need, or better, will depend on for all eternity.

      I’m sure that “one-size-fits-all” encounter in “art class” shaped your dawning, puberty fueled fantasies forever (lmao)

      1. It’s just that the rest of the world is already a safe space for chest-thumping bigoted morons. They insist on it.

        1. This evaluation reveals that you are not very experienced with the world outside of your safe spaces. Might be more than just “semi”-autistic.

        2. BTW I have no doubt that many of today’s social sciences teachers would classify you as exceptionally gifted lmfao

          1. I’m not. I’m just ruthless about beating everyone I’m competing with, even if it takes becoming gifted to do so.

            1. I see. Well, I personally never really believed in the concept of “giftedness” but have no objection if others use it to make sense of individual differences.

              “Becoming gifted to do so”
              Do you mean you try to emulate such thinking patterns? Because by definition that shouldn’t be possible for someone without the condition.

    2. Socially inept, semi-autistic greenhouse plants of humanity are among my favorite culture war casualties.

      (please rate my kirkspeech if you like)

  36. Every time school issues come up, it’s worth pointing out the libertarian idea of school choice with a free market in education providers will outperform what government provides and give parents more choices, with the market striving to give them what they want.
    Government force providing a monopoly to tax money meant to education our children, mostly going to government run schools, is the problem.

  37. NYC Scrapping Gifted and Talented Programs because no one in NY is gifted or talented.

  38. NYC Scrapping Gifted and Talented Program Because no one innNYC is talented or gifted!

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