CEC 4 with Chancellor Richard Carranza at TAG

Teardown of NYC DOE Chancellor Comments on G&T Schools

On February 12th 2019, NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza attended the CEC 4 meeting and answered several questions from the community including a lengthy response about the Gifted and Talented program. The question was complex, as was his answer, so this is a breakdown and analysis of his remarks as a G&T parent.

Recording of the question and answer about G&T schools (apologies for the shaky hand)

Community Education Council District 4 (CEC4) covers East Harlem and is home to Talented and Gifted School for Young Scholars (TAG), one of the five Citywide Gifted and Talented (G&T) elementary schools and covers grades K-8. TAG hosted this meeting and many parents submitted questions about the chancellor’s plans for the G&T program.

The question(s)

CEC4 member, and TAG parent, Eric Crump asked the G&T question.

“What is your vision for G&T education? Can you make a commitment that G&T education will always be a part of the DOE? What are your positions in terms of access to G&T education both at the K level, changing the entry points for that, and also possibly changing the SHSAT and the access to the specialized high schools? And how do we get and replicate the diversity that exists at this G&T school that does an amazing work for an incredibly diverse population of learners, high achieving learners in this building, how do we replicate that in other buildings and get more buildings like it and add more G&T schools to the program?”

Its an amalgamation of some of the many questions submitted and Mr. Carranza made an admirable ten minute attempt to address most components of it. He was obviously well prepared to be asked about G&T given the current controversy and that he was in a G&T school for this meeting.

Chancellor Carranza’s response

Let’s start with his introductory comments which preface his more in depth responses.

“So when we talk about differentiating instruction for different learners, most people — and I’m guilty I just said it here in this public meeting, think about students that have to have material differentiated because they have learning disabilities or different challenges. It’s the same thing, it’s the same concept for differentiating learning for gifted students. Right? You can’t put a gifted student in the traditional classroom with the traditional curriculum and expect them not to be bored or expected them not to be less than motivated. So you have to differentiate along the entire curriculum.”

This sounds pretty obvious and agreeable. He is a rather charming speaker and trying to set a tone. In the previous questions he started chastising parents and was trying to reset from the angry back and forth. Not much to analyze here other than the acknowledgement that G&T kids do need specialized curricula.

“Here’s the challenge that I have with gifted and talented programs as I see them right now in New York City, and I visited a lot of gifted and talented programs, the program that we have here not withstanding. When you have over 35% of your students be designated as gifted and talented, we need to bottle the water that we’re drinking and ship it all over the place. Because that is so far beyond the percentage of gifted and talented that, from a statistical perspective, should be found in the population. I’m just being honest with you.”

He is not being honest here. He is giving a factually incorrect statistic which is meant to devalue the intelligence of G&T students. In this opening attack, he is making a case that the students in the G&T program are nothing special, as justification for his subsequent positions. In the year my daughter took the G&T test, about 900 kids scored in the 99th percentile, which means less than 3,000 kids were eligible for the city G&T schools, and scales up for around a combined 27,000 kids for K-6 elementary schools. Out of the 1.1 million students in the NYC school system, that constitutes less than 2.5%. His 35% was not just factually wrong, it was grossly out of proportion by an order of magnitude. So either he was unprepared, unintelligent, or dishonest. As this was foundational to his positions, we must conclude it was intentional.

“So what it tells me is the mechanisms that we’re using to identify true gifted and talentedness perhaps are not the most robust at truly identifying gifted and talented student.”

The chancellor is essentially using a fake statistic, to portray G&T students as ordinary instead of special, as his proof that the admissions system is flawed. He cannot argue the success of the program, such as TAG consistently ranking in the top schools in the entire state, year after year, or that the DOE’s own study proved that the SHSAT was effective at predicting how well a student will perform in a specialized high school. So instead, he goes after the students themselves as not being anything special, that they were not effectively selected, and even if they were those chosen are not gifted beyond so many other students.

“And then, what you do is you think about how do we currently identify, in many programs, a student that is gifted and talented? Well, you have to sign up for a test, and you go get the test. And then I just read it the Wall Street Journal an article that talked about parents that have paid four hundred dollars an hour to tudor their four year olds for this gifted talent test. And then you look at who is being identified for gifted and talented, and when you think about the 1.1 million students in the New York City Department of Education, seventy percent of whom are black and Latino students, yet don’t even come close to representing the gifted and talented pool of students in our system.”

There are a few threads going on in this section.

The first is what he, and the mayor, have been directly attacking: the tests themselves. What is unusual is if you take this in the context of the other questions asked before this. There was a group of parents from another school, advocates of opting out of the standardized testing and upset about the failing label their school received, who he condescendingly lectured on the importance of testing. Taking the two answers together, he is saying tests are important unless a child does well. This was a recurring theme that every position he took for other issues suddenly got reversed what it came to G&T schools.

He also introduces his dismay at parents helping their children prepare. If you ever heard the phrase “tiger mom” then you understand that G&T kids often have very involved parents. Some parents dedicate personal time and other seek out others who can help their kids. All parents should do this, whatever the intellectually ability of a child a parent’s involvement in their development always helps them improve. The only weird thing here is the unusually high dollar amount which is the exception as most test prep programs are far cheaper. Parents working with their kids is universally encouraged… except, apparently, for G&T kids. He goes more into this later.

The chancellor also starts talking about race here, and uses another statistic, 70%. He makes it clear that he is concerned that Black and Latino students are being left out of the program disproportionate to their presence in the population. Except he doesn’t really say that, he just progresses from tests being unfair to throwing out an economic figure to a racial statistic without making any concrete connection between them.

Here is where it is significant to return to the phrasing of the question: “the diversity that exists at this G&T school that does an amazing work for an incredibly diverse population of learners.” Where other G&T schools often have racial makeup reflecting his complaint, TAG is very different. TAG is highly diverse, one of the more diverse schools in the city. I’ve heard it described as there is no majority in TAG, not by race and not by economic class. Where G&T schools like Anderson can have less than 10% students eligible for free lunch, (an economic indicator close to poverty level) TAG usually has 40%-50% students eligible for free lunch. TAG has the very racial and economic diversity Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza seek to promote in the G&T program. It is already here, and it is already working. But he does not acknowledge this.

So why they association of these threads? The clue is in what he doesn’t once say. He doesn’t mention immigrant students. He doesn’t mention White or Asian students. Despite the mayor’s initial attacks on the specialized high school having too many Whites and Asians, many of whom are poor immigrants, the Chancellor is only mentioning the other races he wants to replace them with. This is about race, has been from the beginning, and he is stoking racial animosity by implying Whites and Asians are taking away G&T seats which he wants to give to Blacks and Latinos.

Between the talk about tests, and the talk about race, he is being divisive and trying to drive groups of parents against each other.

“I am no detective but something’s not right.”

Agreed. Something is not right about where this is leading.

“And I will tell you that currently the the thought, or the exclusive process, of using a test at four years old to identify a student for gifted and talented really measures more the privilege, and I’m not talking about wealth, I’m talking the privilege in the home of a student rather than the true giftedness or talentedness of the student.”

Here he is directly stating something only previously “overheard” when discussing testing for specialized high schools. He is culminating the stoked racism and the implied economic disparities to directly attack G&T children.

Although here he takes the concept of “privilege”, which he introduced earlier as a parent willing to spend money on helping their children, but turning it around and saying that any child who ever is helped by a parent is privileged. The only parents cheering in the audience are the ones from the designated failing school, who were being yelled at not ten minutes earlier for opting out of tests. He never actually talks about economic advantage as the mayor originally did because once you look at the numbers, it is usually poor immigrants who have the most involved parents prepping their kids to do well on these tests and in school in general. He is making a racist argument that poor Asian immigrants are privileged because they are doing the exact parental involvement educators always encourage.

As the son of an immigrant refugee and the spouse of an Asian immigrant, I find it extremely offensive to say that being a good parent makes my daughter too privileged to get the “differentiating learning” she needs.

The reality is some children are smarter than others and some are more talented in different ways than others. All of them deserve all the help we can provide them at home and at school, and no child should be punished for getting these things.

Yet here is the Chancellor of the entire school system sitting in a G&T school declaring all students in the school, who all got top scores in the G&T test, and represent a wide diversity of backgrounds, should have their education taken away from them because of how well they perform, disbelieving that they deserve it.

Richard Carranza should resign as Chancellor of the NYC Department of Education over that statement alone. It is an affront to the students whose education he is responsible for. He is displaying an animosity towards all G&T children. This is old fashioned bullying the smart kids.

“We have a lot of work to do to make sure that the processes that we’re using to identify students for gifted and talented are truly research-based, evidence base, and truly are not skewed against any one particular group of students.”

Now is giving a rhetorical argument with no actual substance. After criticizing the test, he offers no actual alternative. He is sitting in a monument to the system actually working and saying it needs to be fixed with no actual fix proposed.

He also neglects that G&T schools only recently introduced the test. Before that, kids were interviewed and judged on various criteria which were deemed racist. The G&T test and random selection process was introduced to remove racism from the process and make it entirely based on merit alone. Any kid can take the test, and the questions are not even language dependent. Learning to read later, or not having English as primary language in the home, should not bias the measure of a child’s aptitude any more than race.

The test solved the racial bias, he just doesn’t like the results.

“That being said, I think it’s important to have gifted and talented programs in a school system and I’m not against gifted and talented. We got some work around not only how we identify students but then also where those programs are across our entire program.”

Now that he mentions it, there is no G&T school in The Bronx. There is no G&T school in the far side of Queens. There is no G&T school in Staten Island. The Citywide G&T schools accept students from across the City but don’t support transportation across boroughs (yellow nor express bus) and are not placed across all boroughs. Since we are defining privilege here as which kids get the most assistance, then it should be noted that the City routinely leaves out the forgotten borough. If he really means what he says here, the very next thing he would do is open a new G&T school in Staten Island.

“Now, elevate that conversation and the way, part of the way we’re doing is, doing that is that we’re spending time going to programs across system and identifying programs that have really great practices. So I can tell you people have already visited this program here and have taken some really good notes about what are the great best practices around what’s happening here we’re working with our superintendents and our principals in our executive superintendent. So we’re gathering from the field what is that’s happening.”

So after all those disparaging remarks, we’re to suddenly believe that he is expanding this program? After starting off with saying how it needs to change and the kids don’t belong there? This is full of rhetoric and devoid of substance.

“Now I want to just take that one step further. You asked a question about specialized high schools and specialized High School Admission. Same thing. A lot of people have made a lot of a lot a lot a lot of an issue about the specialized high school admissions test. and they said ‘chancellor, why in the world are you spending all this time around eight particular schools?’ Well I would be the first to admit, and by the way I don’t call them elite schools they’re not elite schools, they are specialized schools. I can take you to schools that have no screens. I can take you to schools that takes whoever comes and registers in their school that are doing phenomenal things for kids and graduating great students. [unitelligable] great schools too.”

Here he is starting to talk about the SHSAT which the mayor announced they want to get rid of and replace with a quota system. He plays with two rhetorical devices. First is a reversal. De Blasio and Carranza are the ones making an issue of the test, yet he is framing the outrage against their plan as other people taking issue with the test. This is a misdirection to bolster an illusion of support. The second is a straw man argument.

He also indirectly attacks elite schools by praising other schools in comparison to further the thread that they are nothing special. He throws in another inference to economic disparity with an otherwise pointless reference to specialized high schools having “screens” as if that’s the only thing special about them. If other schools are doing just as well, then what’s the problem with the specialized schools?

“Now let me tell you where I stand on the specialized school because everybody’s read about them. The notion that you can test a four-year-old and tutor a four-year-old to be successful on a test, I saw a lot of people say ‘yeah that’s not okay’ but think about what we do to our students, that desire to go to a specialized school, and if they desire to go to a specialized school, god bless America, more power to them. I’m all for them. Okay?”

I can forgive that he is getting more meandering this far in. I don’t know if I would remain coherently on point for this long a diatribe the way he does.

He is taking another dig at the G&T test for the Citywide schools as not being good, though this seems to lean towards the privilege of preparing for the test instead of the test not working. The phrasing actually belies a contradiction in his two main arguments. Either the test is ineffective and pointless, or it is effective so kids can be prepared for it.

And what is with this “more power to them” line, after going off about how these kids don’t deserve elite education because they are not special and the schools are not special and the test is wrong? He is trying to sound friendly and supportive of the very people he’s attacking.

“And let me be really clear. My oldest daughter, who just graduated from college, but my oldest daughter when I lived in San Francisco went to a specialized school. She did. Total transparency.”

It seems like he was looking for a place to include this information. Like the mayor, after his own kid benefited from a G&T education now he wants to take it away from everyone else. He’s also using this to sound more authoritative, ironically in the same elitist way he tries to turn others against G&T parents as privileged.

“Now, why do I tell you this? Because in our system, when we tell students in middle school, we want you to go to school every single day, don’t miss school, sound right? We want you to do well in your school, We want you to do well in English and math and social studies and science. We want you to get involved in a sport. We want you to play an instrument. We want you to dance. We want you to paint. We want you to volunteer. None of that really matters if you want to go to a specialized school. Because all that matters is that you take one test on one Saturday for a few hours and get a certain cut score and guess what? You get the opportunity — opportunity, make sure we’re clear on that, opportunity to go to a specialized school. It doesn’t matter what your grades are. It doesn’t matter what your attendance is. It doesn’t matter what your community involvement is. And we know for a fact that there are families, god bless them, and some that can’t afford it and go without, that will pay lots of money for many years to tutor their children for the specialized admissions test.”

What’s interesting here is the importance he places on what is often called enrichments. It is here where his rhetoric and his policies completely diverge. These programs are severely underfunded. Things like music or dance are often paid for by parents out of pocket. Athletics are often the first thing cut when education budgets go down. At G&T schools, the parents understand the importance of these things and often pay for many of them out of PTA budgets.

In fact, all these extracurricular activities like volunteering are simply replacing one privilege with another. Not every school has the same available programs. Do you really think the same parents who get tutoring for the SHSAT won’t also go the extra mile to get their kids into whatever activity will help them get into a specialized school? Do you really think the same parents who don’t do such things will be able to be any more involved towards whatever you change the entrance criteria to?

This is also missing the point that tests may be a measure of a given field but all these things contribute to a students ability to learn and grow. A child with robust interests will also do better than one who only studies for a test. Healthier from physical activity makes it easier to focus. Arts encourage creative thinking which directly helps problem solving. By telling a child a thing is worth doing only because it will be directly measured misses the general benefit of well rounded education.

Also by measuring other activities directly, you reintroduce prejudice. One student may love football, another ballet, another Kung Fu. Where they choose to volunteer at speaks volumes. There are so many inferences, correct or not, which can be made from such things. If a school is asked to judge a candidate by their extracurricular activities, where one chose singing opera and another hip hop dance, there are many cultural and economic assumptions the school could make from that alone. This is like cultural bias in IQ testing.

“By the way, that test is not aligned to state standards. So when we’re telling students to do well in school and do well in their classes, what they’re doing, is doing well in the state standards in the curriculum that gets them to master what the state of New York has said to do, but that doesn’t matter because, if you want go to specialized school, we want you to study and get tutored for another test that’s not aligned to state standards, and it doesn’t matter if you really go to school and if you give it all your all because if you do well on this test, you get the opportunities. I don’t know about you but we’re selling our families a bill of goods. and there is not one psychometrician not one that has validated that specialized high school admissions test as valid or reliable for identifying the gifted and talentedness of students to go to specialized school.”

What Mr. Carranza is promoting here is the much reviled concept of teaching to the test. This is the mentality which cuts the enriched curricula he advocated for just moments before.

He is also continuing another thread which he started with when he mentioned his daughter and will eventually get to this point later. He keeps repeating that taking a test means nothing else in school matters. So again, test are really important, except when it comes to G&T schools. He makes the contradiction here more closely by decrying the SHSAT being the wrong test, while advocating for not using a test at all.

The most important point here is how he qualifies when denouncing the SHSAT. He doesn’t say it has poor content, he says it “ is not aligned to state standards.” He doesn’t say its ineffective, he says “not one psychometrician” has validated it. Always a specific qualifier. The truth is the DOE already conducted a study which the mayor tried to suppress, because the DOE found the SHSAT actually is a good indicator of success in specialized high school. Remember, this is racially motivated and really has little to do with the effectiveness of the test. His own department contradicts his agenda, so he must use the qualifiers to circumvent this detail.

“So we have a flawed test, that has now been memorialized in state law. Remember, I told you I have lived all over the United States? I’ve never seen a state legislature codify for local control a single process for admittance into a service sector schools. I said that to the to the lawmakers in Albany as well. I’ve never seen it. Talk about local control.”

Here is another point where the Chancellor is contradicting an answer to an earlier question. When talking about programs for students with physical (not learning) disabilities — or possibly when discussing the Community Schools Initiative, I don’t have a recording of the rest and memory is imperfect — he emphasized how good it was that NYC was doing something unique he has not seen anywhere else in the country. Unless its for the G&T test, then unique is bad.

Actually, he does have a serious and valid point here, but it has little to do with G&T schools specifically. The NY State and NY City relationship is rather bizarre with Albany exerting local control in many areas in addition to schools. Here that dynamic is protecting the G&T schools from the mayor’s bullying, but it is often problematic too. Rhetorically he is using the animosity in NYC against NYS control to rally support.

“So what I’m saying is there are other ways. When my daughter went to specialized school, she had to take an admissions test that was aligned to the state standards in California, because we lived in California at the time. On top of that, she had a write an essay. On top of that, she had to get teacher recommendations. on top of that, all of her grades for middle school counted to a composite that gave a different picture of what about what it was that she was. Her extracurricular activities all counted. And it wasn’t just one way of getting into specialized school it was multiple ways of getting into a specialized school which gave more opportunity to more kids.”

So he finally comes to his point about his daughter. Since he brings up his experience with schools in California as both a parent and educator, it is worth looking into his results there. A preliminary search shows his policies to be more destructive than helpful.

He also is straying from de Blasio’s plan, at least rhetorically. He gives all these examples of “other ways” but none of them are the actual proposal he is pushing. The plan for the SHSAT is to replace the test with a quota of the top 7% from each middle school, regardless of all these factors he listed, regardless of a student’s actual ability in any field, only that spreading the geographic region the students come from will force a certain racial composition. This is not equality of opportunity, this is equality of statistics, which is hardly equitable. A top student at an under-performing school, however unprepared, will be accepted over 93% of G&T students because there are too many Asians in the G&T program. Ironically, this will also block some of the most gifted minorities who happened to end up at a diverse G&T school like TAG.

What is repeatedly missing from this discussion is that the problem is there is not enough specialized schooling for the students who need it. The Chancellor’s plan (if not his rhetoric) is to take the opportunities away from some students and give it to others based on geography and thus indirectly, race. But if they want all deserving students to get the opportunity, they should build more schools — or perhaps convert some schools with only minor shifting of districts. The City will be educating these same students either way, it will cost the same either way, but it is better if all G&T students are placed in G&T schools to get the “differentiating learning” they require to succeed. This will also allow Mr. Carranza to try out these other admissions criteria, and without having to get Albany to approve it to boot. Some schools by test, some schools by composite of grades et al, some schools for the top of each middle school. This would allow for “multiple ways of getting into a specialized school” in a way that will help more kids, not hurt the existing G&T students, and even allow for a long term comparison of which has the best results and should be expanded upon.

“Now if you don’t believe me that just on those things that the system is flawed, consider this. There are 165 specialized schools in the United States of America. 165. Of the 165 specialized schools in the United States of America, there are only eight that use a single test as a sole criteria for admissions to a specialized school. And guess where all eight of those are? New York City. So either we got it all figured out. Or perhaps, Oh and by the way, that specialized admissions test, the analysis has shown that it is also flawed against girls, women. There are less females that are able to show admittance to specialized schools based on that test.”

He is starting to ramble in sentence fragments so its getting harder to break his statements into reasonable groups but the general flow of his comments are still clear.

Here he is getting back to some statistics. Though since he opened with an intentionally deceptive statistic, its difficult to trust any number is presented fairly. He reiterates his point about NYC specialized schools being different than the rest of the country, but neglects to discuss how effective NYC’s specialized school stand up, either academically or even by racial composition. So this number does not add anything useful to the conversation.

The gender bias is also brought up. He cited no source, but you can easily look up school demographics and see a school like Stuyvesant does have more male than female students, 57% vs 43%, but nowhere near as disproportionate as race, which explains why he just throws it in as an afterthought.

“So it’s not only flawed, and by the way, Stuyvesant High School this past year, of the hundreds of students who admitted into the freshman class, there were ten black students that were admitted to Stuyvesant. Yet the percentage of students, I just said and there was, I can’t remember the number, but there were less than 30 black and brown kids that got into Stuyvesant this past year based on that test, and 70 percent of the students in the New York City Department of Education are black and Latino.
Its not a racial quota…I’m not going to argue with you.
Show me a test, show me a psychometrician that’s validated that test, show me the data that shows that we are giving the opportunity to all students in the New York City Department of Education and I’m listening. Nobody’s been able to do that So, what I’m saying is it has to change. And when we have that kind of a disparity in our admissions process, to a public school, we have to have that conversation and I’m looking forward to that.”

In his concluding remarks, Chancellor Carranza comes back to some statistics again. As the culminating point, he makes it clear that his problem with the G&T program and proposed changes for it are purely about quotas. He is trying to get a desired racial composition in the schools, without looking into the causes for the disparity or ways to elevate the under-served demographics. Remember, his earlier remarks were repeatedly that none of the kids currently in the G&T program deserve to be there, and that G&T is purely about privilege. So he is not looking to improve the education of Black and Latino students, but merely a way to redistribute this privilege away from Asian students.

Again using qualifiers, he doesn’t ask for an effective test, and he doesn’t ask for the study done by his own department validating the test, he asks for a specifically psychometrician validated test. He also only asks for data, not about data of a test’s effectiveness or the resulting quality of student and school program, but only for data about the racial composition it measures. For him, and the mayor as well, this started with and always comes back to race.

He is also being disingenuous when he talks about having “that conversation.” This is a top down dismissal of gifted and talented students as just being privileged and a proposal to replace an already effective system with racial quotas. “That conversation” does not include talking about quotas.

There is an uncomfortable truth which Asian American groups are quick to point out but no one else wants to even bring up so never enters “that conversation,” that there are also cultural differences which leads to the skewed demographics in the G&T program. There are differences between income levels in how much help a parent can give. There are differences between immigrants and nonimmigrants in how hard they are willing to work and sacrifice for a child. And yes, there are cultural differences between those who value education or not. These differences disproportionately affect Black and Latino students.

None of these are problems with the testing or the G&T schools themselves. The demographics in these schools are the results of these differences.

Some of these can and are being addressed already without directly harming G&T kids. Low income has long been associated with poor performance in schools. Raising the minimum wage to $15 per is a good first step to help the working poor, but at a full time salary of only $30k/year it is still not high enough and needs to be scaled with inflation. Universal Pre-K and 3-K programs give access to preschool to all NYC children regardless of economic background but has some side effects. Once free UPK was introduced, many smaller and Montessori schools with higher teacher to student rations started closing down, and now there are few if any part time options at the 3-K level, only full time. As the preschool program gets pushed younger and younger, at full time only, it becomes apparent that this is as much about daycare as it is about education, yet this is taking scarce financial resources away from the already fiscally starved school system. Responding to an earlier question, the chancellor said that this is the type of problem you actually can just throw money at. While I take exception to the oversimplification in his banter, needing more money for schools is something he is 100% correct on.

But the cultural differences between families who prioritize education and those who do not, is not something you can test away nor is it so easily solved. The parents from the likely unfairly labelled under-performing school cheering him on are not the problem. There are many others across all demographics not so invested in their kid’s school through either despair or disinterest. Trying to identify and take on G&T kids from these environments is a worthy endeavor, but not at the expense of other G&T kids who are actively invested in achievement in school. Why is the chancellor and mayor directly trying to punish those who actually do well both on the tests and in school, by denying them the specialized education on the gamble that they may be able identify these under served students or that they will magically start doing well when they were not before? Why are these kids being pitted against each other at all? If there is a set number of students in the system regardless of how they are educated, and some are not getting into the program they need, then why is he not pushing for enough G&T education to accommodate them?

Also, the distribution is not entirely random. Kids with highest scores are chosen at random but then placed based on their chosen school preferences. Richer families choose Anderson first. Black families choose TAG first. Outer borough families chose the closest school first. This is why some G&T schools are incredibly diverse while others are not.

What he did not say

The most significant thing is what Chancellor Carranza did not address: the effectiveness of TAG itself in academic measures, robustness of enrichment programs, and the racial composition they so desire for all G&T schools.

He made a few references about “the program that we have here not withstanding” and “people have already visited this program here and have taken some really good notes” but otherwise ignores the very room he was speaking in, and parents he was addressing, directly contradicting the entire premise for why the G&T program “has to change.” TAG is a near perfect model of diversity and achievement which should be replicated, not have its students punished by denying 93% of them access to specialized high schools. He never directly acknowledged that this school is working extremely well by any measure, and he never offered even a single idea about how to replicate its success, only attacks on some contributing factors such as kids being tested to enter.

When he talked about the SHSAT for specialized high schools, he was complaining that not all kids were properly prepared, yet the K-8 G&T schools can do exactly that and do it quite well. TAG has a diverse population by any demographic measure yet will be subject to the same 7% middle school quota as the rest of the City. You really think the most invested parents won’t pull their children out of the G&T schools and let them float to the top of other under-performing schools? The gifted and talented kids will be even more under served, this will in no way help those under performing schools, and none of the desired diversity will be achieved. Because as long as seats in specialized schools is kept artificially scarce, and the “privilege” of admittance is distributed, there will always be a way for the same school focused parents to sacrifice for their kids to do well in it, however the system is structured.

He repeatedly complained that the test for K level G&T only measures privilege implying not a single student in TAG deserves to be there. And he had no alternative whatsoever to offer. For all his complaining about testing four year olds, and flippant remarks about believing in G&T schools and taking “really good notes,” that is a rather glaring omission.

He entirely insulted the most diverse and high achieving group of kids in the entire NYC school system, said that the school must change, has a proposal which will directly undermine the school, and offers no alternative.


He never committed to keeping the G&T program at all.