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Education Group Calls for Citywide Gifted-and-Talented School in The Bronx

By Eddie Small | October 23, 2015 10:10am | Updated on October 25, 2015 9:39pm
 The Parents' Alliance for Citywide Education hopes to get a citywide gifted-and-talented school open in The Bronx.
The Parents' Alliance for Citywide Education hopes to get a citywide gifted-and-talented school open in The Bronx.
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Willow Lawson

THE BRONX — Bronx resident Damian McShane was happy when his young son received a slot at one of the city's gifted-and-talented programs about seven years ago, but he was less enthused when he found out how long it would take him to travel there.

"My son was awarded a slot — and that was a really good thing — at a program in the Lower East Side," he said. "I live up in Riverdale. That really wasn’t feasible for a 5-year-old."

His son later landed a seat at a G&T school on the Upper West Side, a much easier commute for the family. 

To help other Bronx families more easily access similar programs, McShane is now involved with an effort to open the first citywide gifted-and-talented school in The Bronx.

"In The Bronx, it’s difficult even using mass transit ... to access any of these programs," he said.

The Parents' Alliance for Citywide Education, made up of parents with children in New York's gifted-and-talented programs, have collected 262 signatures on an online petition to open a citywide G&T school in the borough.

"There aren’t a lot of minority children in these programs ... and the feeling is that if we were able to expand them, primarily in underserved areas, it would be a big boost to minority students throughout the city," said McShane, a member of PACE.

The Bronx currently has seven district gifted-and-talented programs that take students who score above 90 percent on a G&T test and live in the school district.

Citywide G&T schools take students from throughout the five boroughs who score above 97 on the test. There are three of these schools in Manhattan, one in Brooklyn and one in Queens.

"In order to get the education their K-8th grade children need, Bronx parents are forced to send their children to another borough," the petition reads.

"Bronx children deserve equity with other boroughs."

A citywide school in The Bronx could also help direct more Bronx students into the city's specialized high schools, according to the petition.

Department of Education spokesman Harry Hartfield said the city would keep an eye on the number of students in The Bronx who qualify for gifted-and-talented programs when considering whether to open a citywide school in the borough.

"Every year we review the number of qualifiers," he said in an email. "If the number is high enough to make ... a new program feasible, we will work with the community to see if opening a section is the best decision."

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and PACE will hold an open house providing information about the city’s gifted-and-talented programs on Oct. 29 at the Bronx Library Center on 310 E. Kingsbridge Rd. from 10-11:30 a.m. and from 6-7 p.m.

The events will feature a presentation on the testing process, and attendees will be able to sign up on site for the DOE's free gifted-and-talented test.

"As a borough we continue to push for educational excellence and options for all of our students," Diaz said.

"When looking at the gifted-and-talented students in The Bronx, we know we have to do the work of educating and supporting parents to make informed decisions about the educational trajectory of their children."