The Department of Education has allowed the highly sought-after school [the Brooklyn School of Inquiry] to set aside 40 percent of its kindergarten seats specifically for low-income children.
Citywide, about 77 percent of students are poor and almost 70 percent are black or Hispanic. Last year, BSI’s poverty rate was 23 percent, and less than 10 percent of students were black or Hispanic.
The disparity is not unique to BSI, or to gifted education. Citywide, about 73 percent of gifted students are white or Asian, and the poverty rate averages around 43 percent.
There are almost no students in the city’s gifted programs who are learning English, have special needs, or are in temporary housing. Put together, they make up less than 10 percent.
“What we have right now is something we should be ashamed of,” said James Borland, who directs gifted-education programs at Teachers College at Columbia University.
We should be ashamed of the fact that almost no students in the city’s gifted programs are learning English, have special needs, or are in temporary housing. Clearly.
There’s no getting off this policy treadmill:
Districts used to be able to set their own admissions criteria for gifted programs. That changed in 2007, when the city standardized entry based on test scores, in part to increase diversity. A non-verbal test, also intended to address inequities, was added in 2012. Yet today’s gifted programs remain segregated.
Gifted programs are often seen as a way to help integrate schools:
“It is a way to attract white, higher-income families to a school. But once you do that, it’s like gentrifying a school,” she said. “You walk down the hallway, and you can tell which classroom is gifted and talented and which classroom is general education.”