DOE reverses course on District 26’s valued G&T program

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People buy a house or a co-op or rent in a neighborhood for several reasons, one of which is the quality of the education system. District 26 has a fine gifted and talented program, which attracts many middle-class families and makes it the top district in the city. To enter the program, young children at age 4 have to pass a test and be evaluated.

Gifted Magnet classes were sent to MS 158 and MS 67 since the inception in the 1980s. MS 74 was only added last year. Next year five schools — MS 67, 74, 158, 172 and 216 — will be offering two Gifted Magnet classes.

Suddenly, last Nov. 13, the city Department of Education announced that the children will not automatically move into middle school as a group. Parents were unhappy, confused and angry.

It is the stability and quality of schools in District 26 which keeps it performing well. Some parents moved into the area just to have their children in this G&T program. Some are in the act of moving so young children can be in the program through middle school.

For years, most children in other districts throughout the city have had to reapply for middle school, but District 26 was exempted since the program has existed since the 1980s. District 30, in western Queens, also had an exemption to the retesting until 2019 because parents fought for their program.

The parents in District 26 fought and more than 750 signed an online petition to permit students in elementary schools’ G&T programs to continue on into middle school.

To make things harder, it seems that about 700 students in the district earned fours on both the math and English exams while there are only 165 seats in the program. District Superintendent Anita Saunders heard some information about changes in March 2013, but only received details in November 2013, when the rest of the district received the news.

District 26 CEC member Susan Shiroma informed me that the thinking of the DOE was to expand G&T to more students in middle school. Was this their way of doing it?

Now the DOE says it will permit the younger students to progress automatically into middle school and also open more G&T classes. It is too bad that they had to issue their poorly devised plans and cause so much frustration for parents and their children.

At the other end of the spectrum, parents are filing so many cases against the DOE for the poor handling of their special-needs children that there is a backlog of cases waiting to be heard. Last year, the DOE decided to shift special education students out of special schools and into local public schools.

Parents can see the difference and are now suing the DOE to have their children put into private special schools. One can read articles about kindergarten children restrained in padded school cells or arrested in regular or charter public schools because the teachers in regular classes do not know how to handle these children.

Specially trained teachers and special programs are needed and they are expensive, but they are the only appropriate locations for many special-needs children who often flourish.

GOOD NEWS OF THE WEEK: State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), members of the Queens Civic Congress and the Queens Chamber of Congress are opposed to the latest proposal to put tolls on the East River bridges.

BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: Assemblyman Eric Stevenson (D-Bronx) was convicted of bribery and extortion charges and was removed from office. He was punished for his crimes. City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) has admitted that she failed to include rental income from a house she owns for four years on her city financial disclosure form.

What is her punishment for that failure? Well, she paid income taxes for the roughly $100,000 she earned. Yet!

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Reader Feedback

gh from queens says:
When your children move up to a higher school, they need to understand that your child needs to face evaluation again. Gifted classes are earned and should not be something that you are just handed. Jr high is a whole different Ballgame than elementary school is. Just because your child Did Well in elementary school does not mean the child will do Well in Jr high.
March 8, 2014, 8:02 am
getyourfactscorrect says:
NO that is not the way it was for the schools. MS 74 has only had a Gifted program for ONE year and PS 203 has only had ONE years class go there. Likewise PS 115 has only had ONE year where a class graduated and went to MS 67! MS 172 has not had any gifted program and MS 216 has only had an internal driven IGC program but no official Gifted & talented class until next year. This false information warrants a correction to your article. This reverse change was made because the students in some schools did not perform scores adequate for them to secure seats in future programs and those parents fought for a change back. And NO the number of students that score 4's that you stated were for the Math scores only and not ELA. Those students that scored a 4 were numbered in the 400's. And the information of the change was reported in March 2013 on the CDEC 26 website. Get the facts straight before reporting next time!
March 8, 2014, 10:54 am
whose needs from queens says:
Willing to pay for gifted ed but not special needs. Which contribute to society?
March 9, 2014, 7:25 pm
getyourfactscorrect says:
Schools get compensated substantially for special ed students but they get no extra compensation for a Gifted and Talented Magnet student. And you are correct to point out that those G&T students will contribute substantially to our society in the future and schools should be given extra money to educate them as well.
March 11, 2014, 9:42 am
Entitlement Earned? from Bayside says:
The G&T pgm should be merit based and each child in it should have > 4 on both the NYS Math and ELA every year to continue! Unfortuantely, this is not likely to happen even though many kids in these pgms get lazy and just coast along. Also, you will find the calibre of the G&T pgm between these different select schools quite dissimilar.
March 12, 2014, 6:17 pm
factcheck from queens says:
I know that in my elementary school, gt students do in fact get evaluated every year by the school addition, the evaluation continues on thru jh. Therefore, it is not a free ride. With that said, the policy states that all incoming kindergarteners 2014 will have to reapply for middle school, but now at least the parents know that before accepting the seat.
And yes, the memo was mentioned on the cdec website back in march but never communicated to the school. Who checks thier website on a monthly basis? Shame on the DOE for not properly communicating to parents using proper vehicles. Memos on any change from the DOE have always come thru via paper in my kids backpacks from their school.
Kudos for the parents in pushing for more gt seats to accurately reflect the number of qualified students in this district. They have the highest # of gt seats in the city. Sounds like their battle served all qualified students and not only the gt. A win-win for 300 graduating students vs 160 from the prior policy.
March 14, 2014, 9:54 am

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