Bed-Stuy parents: Our kids deserve gifted and talented classes

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The Department of Education must bring its gifted and talented program to Bedford-Stuyvesant elementary schools — one of only two districts in Brooklyn without the advanced classes — so local brainiacs have access to the same opportunities as other kids in the borough, say local parents.

“Our children deserve everything that is available to children in other districts,” said Anna Shenk, vice president of the local community education council, which passed a resolution demanding the department create at least one gifted and talented program for pint-sized Pointdexters in District 16 — which encompasses most of Bedford-Stuyvesant and the small part of Crown Heights — at a meeting with city reps and concerned parents on Tuesday night.

The program funnels whiz kids who score high marks on an optional entrance exam into advanced classes. Parents can sign their youngsters up to take the test from kindergarten through third grade, and if they pass, they can either join a district-specific program — one that carves out special classes in regular schools — or shuttle off to a school outside the district that drafts from all over the city.

The city says it hasn’t implemented a program in District 16 in the past because not enough students have passed the test, according to department reps — at least 25 students must be eligible for it to create a program, but city data shows only 16 students passed last year and 20 the year before.

But the council members claim few kids bother to sit the test because no schools in the area offer the program in the first place, so parents don’t see it as an option — roughly 100 students sat the exam in each of the past two years. And the youngsters who do take the assessment and pass have to ship off to schools in other neighborhoods if they want to participate, creating a brain drain in local institutions.

If the district had just one gifted and talented program, it would inspire more kids to take the test and lead to more high-achieving students at local public schools, they said.

“We need to start small,” said Community Eduction Council 13 president NeQuan McLean. “Why not start with having one here?”

But lackadaisical parents must also take responsibility for the lack of opportunities — the program will only succeed if enough parents rally behind it and put their kids through the testing process, said another group member.

“You can’t be angry and frustrated about what’s happening when no one is taking the steps to do anything,” said Anika Caesar, whose two kids attend the district’s Brooklyn Brownstone School, citing shoddy turnouts at previous council and parent teacher association meetings.

Parents have until Nov. 9 to register their kids for the test, which will take place in January. If enough kids pass, they will be eligible for the fall 2016 program.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at or by calling (718) 260–8312.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

public school parent from Fort Greene says:
I am not a fan of G&T classes at the elementary level, but it's ridiculous that this district should not have one if the other districts do. I would also advocate for dual language programs and magnet programs in the D16 public schools. I hope the parents of District 16 are successful in bringing all of these programs to their schools; of course their kids deserve them!
Oct. 22, 2015, 7:32 am
Linda Lee from China says:
No need gifted class - need Chinese Mother!!
Oct. 22, 2015, 9:37 am
bkmanhatman from nubrucklyn says:
Gifted classes in Bedstuy would be a god-send. There are some smart kids out there that need to be given the resources to make things better for the community.
For every 10 hoodrats there are is at least one or two diamonds in the rough that could be uplifted
Oct. 22, 2015, 9:45 am
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
I remember that when they got rid of Gifted and Talented at PS 11 in Clinton Hill, the principal said something along the lines of "all children are gifted and talented."

Yes, the program has a very offensive name, but would be a good idea in district 16.
Oct. 22, 2015, 10:10 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
I remember in the 1980s when I was in school, "gifted" was jus code for whites-only classes. Worked out great for me, but I have to assume that more than a few students got royally screwed.
Oct. 22, 2015, 11:06 am
Chocolatina Rodriguez from Sunset Hole says:
Jim - so black people are too dumb for your class? We should just play basketball and sell drugs? Or do hip hop? You are the worst racist, a black racist.
Oct. 23, 2015, 12:37 pm
Jim from Cobble says:
I'm saying it was a way yuppies tried to keep segregation alive in NYC public schools. The program was always abused for that purpose. It worked. Did you even read the comment?
Oct. 24, 2015, 12:33 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
A friend of mine who was in gifted and talented at Erasmus HS in the 70's said it was a way to keep her alive.
Oct. 25, 2015, 6:25 am
John from Bay ridge says:
"I am not a fan of G&T classes at the elementary level"

The problem is that the general public does not know that there is teachers have to teach classes very differently if the class has multiple children from familes that do not care about education. Very differently if the class has multiple "inclusion" special education students that are very low functioning and disruptive (we see kids in third grade not potty trained). Gifted and Talented programs allow schools to separate out the children who parents send the children to learn and not as free baby sitting service . 50% of the NYC school parents see school as free baby sitting service . Norms about G and T in the suburbs do not apply in the city. There are caring parents in all races and income levels and g and t programs need to exist for these kids in all districts
Oct. 25, 2015, 9:28 pm
David from Ft. Greene says:
yuppies and their entitlements
Oct. 26, 2015, 1:57 pm

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