As a network of unscreened, career-themed schools in New York City, the Urban Assembly (UA) supports the NYC DOE’s decision to phase out NYC’s gifted and talented program. We applaud the decision to end this longstanding strategy that has facilitated racial and economic stratification, with little evidence of academic or behavioral gains for students within these programs. We welcome the decision to replace the now existing gifted and talented program with an “accelerator” program where all early learners across the city can engage in innovative learning that strengthens their critical thinking skills and places the onus of the quality of teaching and learning on all schools.
The UA has been a longtime supporter of efforts to end barriers to integration in NYC schools and ensure all students have equitable access to a high-quality education. We firmly support ending the practice of admissions screening in schools, except where equity and access to resources are amplified by the screen (e.g. programs for English Language Learners). We believe that by investing in schools, not screens, we will create a public education system that truly serves all students with high-quality education, thereby preparing them for college, career, and community.
The UA is a highly visible advocate of increasing equity in our schools. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, UA CEO David Adams affirmed our commitment to ending screens and the gifted and talented program with the Wall Street Journal. David and Marisol Rosales (NYCDOE Senior Deputy Chancellor) shared a critical question with The American Consortium for Equity in Education May/June journal. They asked, “What if we redefined gifted education by lifting up identities, cultures, talents, and abilities found in all students and classrooms, that is, things that make a difference in outcomes?” As the UA moves forward, our commitment to all learners will never waver, our dedication to innovation within public education will not falter, and the lessons from our schools, from our students, from our communities, will benefit all schools, all students, and New York City at large.