More than 200 supporters of the city’s Gifted and Talented program massed at Department of Education headquarters Thursday — the second rally to preserve the advanced learning format this week.
The group — which included several city officials — called for the modification and expansion of the program rather than its elimination.
Mayor de Blasio announced the end of the current format last week and said he planned to replace it with his own vision for accelerated classroom learning.
Current Gifted and Talented parent and supporter Clayton Broome said he rejected the argument that the programs cater to the privileged.
“My only two children gained access to one of the most prestigious of these schools, and we are far from privileged,” he said Thursday. “We couldn’t afford any test prep. My wife and our first son just used what was available online.”
Several counter protesters who oppose the Gifted and Talented program as an instrument of racism and segregation were also on hand, with one of them confronting Broome as he spoke.
“You should be ashamed of yourself!” the person said.
Gifted and Talented detractors contend that the program — which admits students through a single standardized test score — promotes racial separation in city classrooms and enrolls low numbers of African-American and Hispanic students.
Backers say advanced city kids should have opportunities to learn with similarly situated peers.
Currently, 43 percent of participants are Asian, 36 percent white, 8 percent Hispanic, and 6 percent Black.
Another Gifted and Talented backer said Thursday that de Blasio wants to raze a program that he and other top city and DOE officials have sought out for their own households.
“The Gifted and Talented program is so good that the mayor sent both his kids to it,” said parent Kai Mao. “Parents, teachers and students overwhelmingly support to expand such a program.”
De Blasio has proposed scrapping an entry test and instead having teachers detect and nominate advanced learners after the eighth grade.
These kids would then receive differentiated instruction within general education settings.