Bed-Stuy Gifted & Talented Students Forced to Travel Outside Community to G & T Schools

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Bay Ridge has 10 programs, Bed-Stuy has none

By Stephen Witt

Bedford-Stuyvesant has many brilliant young children, but if they pass the test to get into one of the city’s Gifted and Talented public programs, they can expect a long commute in getting there.

That’s because there are no Gifted and Talented public school programs for kids in the community and there hasn’t been any for some time.

“We are one of the few districts citywide that don’t have a Gifted and Talented public school program. Right now, students from the district that are gifted and talented are bussed to other districts,” said Community Education Council District 16 President Felicia Alexander.

Gifted and Talented programs are open to all kindergarten to fourth-graders that are deemed extremely intelligent through verbal and nonverbal assessment tests and score above the 90th percentile.

This year, there are 34 Gifted and Talented programs at schools in every Brooklyn district except District 16, which is made up mainly of Bed-Stuy.  District 20 schools, which is mainly made up of Bay Ridge, has 10 or slightly less than a third of the borough’s Gifted and Talented programs.

Department of Education (DOE) spokesperson Harry Hartfield said the reason Bed-Stuy didn’t have any Gifted and Talented programs was because they lacked the students that could pass the test.

“G&T programs are sited within districts based on the number of students who
qualify for seats within that district. Because G&T programs are distinct programs within school buildings and occupy their own classrooms, we require a minimum number of students within a district to qualify in order to make the creation of a section practical,” said Hartfield in an e-mail. “If that can’t happen in a particular district, the DOE offers eligible applicants priority to one or more program options in neighboring districts.”

But Alexander said the DOE has done little outreach to get community kids and their parents to even know about the test. She was at the community board meeting this week to urge that people spread the word about the upcoming tests in January.

The fact that there are no Gifted and Talented programs in Bed-Stuy comes after reports this year about a huge racial disparity in the elite academic public high schools such as Stuyvesant High School – all of which requires an entrance exam.

City Councilman-elect Robert Cornegy said he will make getting a Gifted and Talented program in Bed-Stuy a priority once he gets in office.

“This is a much-heralded program and it is very important to have one in the community,” said Cornegy. Cornegy, adding there used to be one at PS 308, and in fact his wife was in it.

One of Cornegy’s six children is in a Gifted and Talented program and is bussed to Queens for it.

Cornegy said he will also work to get a “special needs” school program in the community. Currently, the only such program in Bed-Stuy is for students with behavior problems.

After the Jewish community, our community has one of the highest needs for a special education program, he said, adding that one of his children is in that program and is bussed to Bay Ridge.

“No one is talking about the needs of special education children. How can there be one criterion for District 13 and 16, and another for District 21?” said Cornegy.  “We have two needs on opposite ends of the spectrum. We are being disproportionately affected by not having either a special needs program or a Gifted and Talented program.”

To find out more about the Gifted and Talented program and test dates and locations call 718-935-2009 or visit www.nyc.gov/schools/gt.

K-3 Gifted & Talented Admissions for the 2014-15 School Year

To access the Request for Testing (RFT) form and for answers to frequently asked questions about the G&T assessment, visit:  http://schools.nyc.gov/Academics/GiftedandTalented/Calendar/default.htm

Alert! The deadline to submit your RFT form is TOMORROW, November 8, 2013.

 

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