Queens lawmakers introduce legislation to boost diversity for Gifted and Talented Programs

Courtesy of Senator Toby Stavisky’s office

On the first day of school at the East West High School of International Studies in Flushing, two Queens lawmakers announced legislation that would boost diversity throughout the Gifted and Talented Program in New York City.  

Senator Toby Stavisky and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic introduced the bill, S3542/A2240, that would require all students, prior to the third grade, be screened for Gifted and Talented Programs, unless the parent or guardian opts out. 

“With the start of the new school year, our school system should take this opportunity to broaden the gateways for students and ensure that all New Yorkers have access to the educational services they deserve,” Rozic said. 

The purpose of the legislation is to ensure that all students are screened and benefit from the resources offered by their school districts. Earlier this year, the Independent Budget Office estimated it would cost the city $3.8 million to test every student from Pre-K to second grade. 

Stavisky said New York City’s Gifted and Talented Program allows for children who benefit from an accelerated learning experience an opportunity to be challenged in the classroom. 

“This legislation would increase diversity throughout the Gifted and Talented Program and include more students from under-represented populations,” Stavisky said. “This bill would ensure any child with the ability to excel has the opportunity to flourish and reach their full potential.”

In 2015, the School Board of Broward County in Florida issued a report that explained the results of testing each child in the second grade and they found hundreds of additional students who qualified — 84 percent of the students came from under-represented populations. Broward County saw an increase of 180 percent amongst disadvantaged students including, English language learners and those who qualify for free lunch. There was an increase of 130 percent amongst Hispanic students and an 80 percent increase of African American students.  

 The Assemblywoman and Senator sent a letter to the Mayor de Blasio earlier this week to demonstrate their support of the Gifted and Talented Program. Stavisky also announced an online petition on her website for parents to show their support for the gifted and talented legislation.