The New York Model for Virginia’s Schools

by James C. Sherlock

For those who think my writing for the last year about the future of education in Virginia was too pessimistic, it appears that I may have not been pessimistic enough. I have an article for you to read.

See De Blasio hates gifted schooling because it exposes his own failures in this morning’s New York Post.

It starts with Karol Markowitz reporting:

“As things weren’t tumultuous enough for Gotham’s parents, the Department of Education announced Tuesday night that this year’s test for the city’s coveted Gifted & Talented programs would be the last.”

Then: 

“A twice-delayed reopening was followed by more closings and partial reopenings on the basis of unscientific metrics. State tests haven’t been scheduled, and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza has openly hoped that President-elect Joe Biden will let New York skirt them. Middle-school admissions have moved to a ridiculous all-lottery system.”

“So, of course, now is the perfect time to rearrange the only functioning part of the Big Apple’s public-education system: gifted education.”

I’m not a big defender of the test for gifted programs. I’ve written in these pages about the foolishness of giving 4-year-olds a test that can decide their future for years. But the idea of scrapping the test and replacing it with . . . something to be determined later is yet another way to shake parents’ faith in the school system. The mayor and his schools chancellor hate the G&T programs; once they remove the test, it becomes far easier to simply eliminate the classes.

Why do they hate these programs?

The G&T programs expose the dirty secret of New York City public schools: Parents want their kids in these programs so badly because the majority of our schools are mediocrities, if not catastrophes. In 2019, 47.4 percent of city students in grades three to eight scored at the proficient level on the English-language assessment; in math, the figure was 45.6 percent.

Put another way: The majority of the city’s students aren’t proficient in English and math. That’s pathetic and an embarrassment. And it’s much harder to fix a failed general-education system than simply remove G&T programs that expose how dysfunctional the rest of the system has become.”

I’ve already heard from many parents planning their departure from New York over this question. They believe that scrapping the test can’t but prefigure the end of the programs as a whole. They don’t trust the mayor or his schools chancellor.

Parents complain that the curriculum is absurdly easy and doesn’t challenge their kids at all. These parents don’t think their kids are Little Einsteins. But they see their kids breeze through homework, if the school even gives any, and not have to work hard at all. G&T education gave parents the possibility of rigor and of their children learning how to work hard.

These programs maintain the principle of competitiveness, which is both a human reality and a crucible of excellence. Hizzoner and Carranza are openly opposed to all of this.

People won’t wait around to see what absurd metric the bumbling mayor introduces for G&T admissions. Instead, many will finally face the difficult truth: In many other parts of the nation, gifted curricula are simply called “school.”

New York escapees seeking better public schools without political interference are well advised to skip Virginia. Ours used to be excellent. Some still are. But there is a full court press to dumb them down for political reasons.

Every bit of the evidence — eliminate competitive tests, “rationalize” curricula to promote “equity,” eliminate merit as the criteria for magnet schools, eliminate performance as a criteria for grading — that is coming out of the Governor’s educational appointees and their acolytes in some of the school districts suggests the New York City model, but without charter schools, is exactly where they wish to take Virginia public schools.  

They are racing over that cliff as fast as they think they can get away with it.

Cue the left on this blog to raise “that will never happen here” cries or, alternately “I support it,” or change the subject. I bet on change the subject.

I am sure Jim welcomes a column from Mr. Qarni or Mr. Lane to suggest they have different goals in mind.

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14 responses to “The New York Model for Virginia’s Schools

  1. The outcry against TJ, its started.

  2. So fair to say that G&T schools are essentially an analog for higher-income parental busing of kids to better schools than their own neighborhood school – and the poor can’t escape?

    • Not how it worked when my wife taught at a center-based gifted program in Chesterfield. It was a definite path for the best students from any income group, any financial status. That’s where she witnessed the young black student struggling because she was being harassed for “acting white.”

      Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” is now what, sixty years old?

      • I’ve done a few retrieves on the VDOE build-a-table for the Charter schools with the Economically Disadvantaged button checked.

        I haven’t done all of them but the several I have done – show very small numbers of ED.

    • Uh, not how it worked for daughter. Her G&T classes were racially mixed and widespread from the City. But then the area is probably more racially mixed than most. There were programs in geographically dispersed schools as well.

    • Not fair at all.

  3. My kids went to Appomattox Regional Governor’s School. Very diverse. Kids from as far away as Surry.

  4. Baconator with extra cheese

    Just make all the public high school students enroll in talented and gifted classes. If they fail out so be it. Equity granted.

  5. Baconator with extra cheese

    Besides the RVA kids can’t read or do math so they might as well not be able to read or do math at a gifted level.
    At a minimum their egos might be inflated.

  6. Capt. Jim. Are you referring to the ARGS building? It is very cool. Actor Joseph Cotten studied there.

  7. Ok. What are you connecting with?

  8. My understanding is that DeBlasio’s kids are in G&T programs in public high school. And “yes,” DeBlasio is keeping G&T for current students.

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