Supporters want back PS 18 gifted program

Education advocates are calling on the city Department of Education to stop the phase-out of the gifted and talented program at PS 18 in Queens Village. Photo by Howard Koplowitz
By Howard Koplowitz

Education advocates are trying to get the city Department of Education to reinstate the gifted and talented program at PS 18 in Queens Village, arguing there is enough demand to keep the program going.

The DOE has been phasing out the program at the Queens Village school, where there are only gifted and talented classes for fourth- and fifth-graders, citing low demand.

“We don’t phase out gifted and talented programs arbitrarily,” a DOE spokesman said. “It’s all based on demand.”

While the phase-out was instituted by the DOE two years ago, Community District Education Council 26 President Rob Caloras said there has been a recent effort to stop the phase-out because of the city’s plan to make PS 188 in Bayside a citywide school, which would lead to fewer seats in that school’s gifted and talented program for local students.

“I think a lot of it is that the teachers and the parents didn’t fully realize what was going on,” said Caloras, who is also the CDEC 26 liaison to PS 18, at 86-35 235th Court.

The situation with PS 188, at 218-12 Hartland Ave., which the DOE notified CDEC 26 of two months ago, “made people realize that they might lose two gifted and talented programs,” he said.

Caloras said there is enough demand to bring back the gifted and talented program at PS 18.

“A lot of the lack of demand for PS 18 is it hasn’t been on the [gifted and talented] list for two years,” he said.

Caloras said PS 115 in Glen Oaks and PS 203 in Oakland Gardens, both in District 26, have gifted and talented programs that are overcrowded and suggested the overcrowding be alleviated by sending some students to PS 18.

Cindy Herendeen, a co-president of PS 18’s PTA, could not be reached for comment.

City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) noted some PS 18 teachers are specially trained to teach gifted and talented classes.

Weprin said more than 100 kids qualified for the gifted and talented program at PS 18 this year, but there were not enough seats.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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