Reframe the Problem as a Challenge to Find Ways to Expand Gifted Education Services
August 27, 2019

A Statement by NAGC Board President Sally Krisel

In response to The New York Times article, “Desegregation Plan: Eliminate All Gifted Programs in New York” (8-26-19),  the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) strongly disagrees with the panel’s recommendation to eliminate gifted education programs in our nation’s largest school district.

While we share Mayor de Blasio’s concern about “reducing inequality” in classrooms, eliminating gifted programs will not level the playing field. In fact, the children whose families cannot afford to send them to private schools or supplement their education with extra-curricular opportunities are hurt the most when gifted programs are cut.

Equity and excellence are not mutually exclusive. You cannot have one without the other, and as is the focus of the Giftedness Knows No Boundaries campaign, we must find better ways to identify gifted and potentially gifted children from underserved populations.

Despite New York City’s well-intentioned efforts to identify all gifted children, the use of one test  actually exacerbated under-identification, which led to the elimination of gifted programs where not enough students met a prescribed cut-off score.

Rather than eliminating gifted programs, there is great opportunity in New York City to reframe the equity issue as a challenge to find ways to expand gifted education services for all who would benefit from them. We have learned much in the field of gifted education, including the power of training teachers to recognize giftedness in diverse populations and about using multiple strategies such as universal screening and appropriate use of local norms in the identification process, and classroom instruction to introduce children who have not had prior access to challenging curriculum to prepare for more rigor.

We can achieve both equity and excellence in our schools. As former New York City Chancellor Rudy Crew, a champion of gifted education, said, “Schools alone cannot solve the issue of inequality, but with the right combination of passion, commitment, and sound policies, we can build a runway that will give many children the opportunity to aim high, dream big, and excel.”