Accept children into program for Queens gifted and talented

I am writing regarding an issue that was discussed at the Community District Education Council 26 meetings in January and February: the phasing out of the gifted and talented program at PS 18. This program started 13 years ago and through the hard work of school administrators and teachers has provided services and activities not ordinarily provided by general education programs.

PS 18’s program has fully developed the educational needs of these children, who have shown high achievement capability in intellectual, creative, artistic or leadership capacities or in specific academic fields. This program also serves a part of our district that is not geographically convenient to other gifted and talented programs in our district. Significantly, several parents at our February meeting made it clear that they wanted to send their children to the program at PS 18 and they knew many other parents who wanted to send their children there as well.

Yet this highly successful and desired program is no longer accepting new students. Why? Well, according to city Department of Education officials, the program is not in demand and insufficient students choose to go there, so it is being phased out. This explanation is ludicrous because the decrease in demand occurred in the last two years, when the DOE failed to list PS 18’s program on the application filled out by students who are eligible for these programs. It is not surprising that if you do not list a school as a choice, students will not choose the school.

But this logic seems to escape the people who have decided to end PS 18’s program — or more likely, these people are aware of this logical rule and the decision to close the school was made based on matters separate from student demand. In fact, I have been informed by a reliable source that even before the de-listing of PS 18’s program, students who chose PS 18 as their preferred school were not given this choice. When questions were raised to school and DOE officials as to their not getting PS 18 as their choice, no answer was given.

It is unacceptable to the education community in District 26 that PS 18’s program is being phased out. Based on the information available, there is no sound reason for this decision. To close the program will result in many gifted students being denied their right to an education specially designed for their abilities since there is not sufficient space in nearby programs to accommodate more students.

Moreover, the teachers in this program are certified and well-trained in providing our gifted students with the appropriate learning environment. It would be an unpardonable waste of their talents if they do not continue doing so. Consequently, CDEC 26 urges that the program at PS 18 be allowed to accept new students in all grades and that it be listed on the application as an available program choice to qualified students.

Robert Caloras




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