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Bring Gifted and Talented Programs to Bed-Stuy, Parents Urge DOE

By Camille Bautista | October 19, 2015 5:04pm
 The Community Education Council for District 16 will hold their monthly meeting at P.S. 5 on Tuesday to discuss gifted and talented programs.
The Community Education Council for District 16 will hold their monthly meeting at P.S. 5 on Tuesday to discuss gifted and talented programs.
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DNAinfo/Camille Bautista

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Parents in Bedford-Stuyvesant’s school District 16 are calling on the city’s Department of Education to bring gifted and talented programs to the neighborhood.

The area is currently without a single gifted and talented program for schools in the eastern section of Bed-Stuy and northern Crown Heights.

A Tuesday night meeting is planned with DOE representatives, elected officials, and members of the Community Education Council for District 16 to discuss the absence of G&T opportunities, as well as how parents can get their children involved, according to organizers.

“We believe getting a G&T program, especially a citywide one, will help the district complete and show that we have an interest, that we have the ability and can take kids from across the city," CEC 16 President NeQuan C. McClean said, adding that they will vote on a resolution Tuesday calling on the DOE to support the creation of a local G&T program for fall 2016.

“A lot of parents may not know about it and what it’s all about, so we’ll hold a public hearing to give a brief overview.”

Under the current system, students entering kindergarten through third grade can participate in G&T admissions, and must excel on a test to be eligible to apply. Eligible students can attend their district's elementary schools, or can apply to citywide G&T programs that take students from all boroughs without district-based priority.

For several years, community leaders and residents have advocated for bringing a new G&T program to Bed-Stuy. Many parents have to bus their children out to neighboring districts for advanced and specialized education, McClean said, leaving District 16 unable to compete citywide.

When his son was in the 5th grade, McClean had to send him out of central Brooklyn to be enrolled in an accelerated program, he said. His goal is to see a G&T school opened inside his district by the time his 1-year-old is eligible for testing.

DOE officials blame the shortage of G&T programs in the area on the low number of qualifying students in past years. In 2015, just 16 kids entering kindergarten qualified for a district-wide program, and 20 qualified in 2014, according to DOE data.

Pre-K students in the district who qualified and submitted an application last year were given offers to a program in a neighboring district, officials said.

City Councilman Robert Cornegy launched a “Central BK is Gifted” campaign to call attention to the issue.

“On a fundamental level, I believe that having a gifted and talented option in CSD 16 is about equity and that the lack of availability is one reason that demand for testing is low,” Cornegy said in a statement.

“The current void is forcing parents who would prefer this option to rely on others, such as the charter school system," he continued. "But DOE has said that it wants to see greater demand, so we are doing everything we can to tick off that box.”

CEC 16 members and the councilman want to see 500 families request the G&T test by the Nov. 9 deadline, they said.   

Following the campaign’s first stage, Cornegy is looking to set up tutoring to ensure children are prepared for test-taking in early 2016.

Tuesday’s meeting will also discuss the possible implementation of the Renzulli method of gifted education for all students within the district.

The Community Education Council for District 16 meeting on G&T programs will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 6:30 p.m., at P.S. 5, the Dr. Ronald McNair School, 820 Hancock St.

For more information on G&T programs for central Brooklyn, visit the DOE website or email CEC16@schools.nyc.gov.