NYC To Eliminate Gifted & Talented Programs Over Concerns About Racial Segregation In Schools

NYC has the most segregated public schools in the country.

school buses in front of school Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock

Mayor Bill de Blasio has made the decision to end New York City’s gifted and talented programs that reside in the public schools. 

The decision comes after complaints of the gifted program being highly selective and racially segregating. 

Why is NYC replacing the gifted and talented program?

The program will slowly begin to phase out with current students able to stay in their classes until completion. The gifted and talented program will officially end for incoming kindergarten students next fall, and within a few years it will be eliminated completely.


The existing system is said to be replaced with a program that offers accelerated learning to all students in the later years of elementary school. It will be called Brillant NYC, and will be more accessible to students, while also letting them stay in their regular classrooms with their peers.

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The gradual elimination of the program will hopefully remove racial segregation within the New York City public school system. 


The large numbers of students that participate in the gifted and talented program are white, and Asian American students.

They are able to gain access to the highest-performing schools and resources, while Black and Latino students do not receive the same benefit and are left to attend schools that do not have many resources or funding.

New York City has some of the most segregated schools in the country.

A lot of the division comes with the difference in how certain schools are treated when it comes to academic support and enrichment programs. 

While there are many people who critique the gifted and talented program, there are supporters who argue that it allows academically advanced kids the opportunity to learn at an appropriate pace and thrive in environments that can propel them farther into their educational futures.


White and Asian American students comprise roughly 70% of students in these gifted and talented programs, despite making up 30% of the overall public school population.

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Many schools who offer gifted and talented programs have tried to diversify their classrooms through the test-based admission process. 

These schools have tried this by setting aside a small portion of their seats to be filled first by students who score high enough on the test and are low-income based, English-learning, in public housing, or meet other need-based criteria.


But, many of these schools failed to meet their diversity goals because there weren’t enough need-based students who managed to meet the testing requirements and also applied to their school.

New York is actually more reliant on selective admission processes than any other schooling system in the country, which makes the racial segregated schools more of an issue.

Eric Adams will decide what happens to the gifted and talented programs. 

While Mayor de Blasio has shown initiative in wanting to rid public schools of the gifted and talented programs, it’s ultimately up to the next mayor, who is predicted to be Democratic nominee Eric Adams, to figure out just how much of the new plan will be implemented.

Adams has been vocal on his skepticism about ending gifted and talented programs, so it's unclear on if the elimination will carry through or if Adams will implement a program of his own.


The best way for New York City to combat it’s racially segregated schools is to eliminate many of the specialized programs that shut out many students of color. 

Instead, funds should be allocated into the struggling schools in low-income neighborhoods. There should be an emphasis on boosting diversity and making sure all students are given an equal opportunity to succeed. 

Highly-selective tests and admission processes are only doing more harm than good, and it’s time that these gifted and talented programs cease being the only way that children can find success in their futures.


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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.