NYC pol John Liu Calls Gifted and Talented Parents’ Forums’ Orwellian Theater ‘


State Senator John Liu tore up engagement meetings for the city’s gifted and talented parents during the ‘Orwellian’ theater staging on Wednesday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio canceled the advanced learning format last month in favor of a new structure that would offer accelerated material in general education classrooms.

Along with Chancellor of Schools Meisha Porter, de Blasio pledged to hold Zoom meetings in all districts to get feedback on the future of advanced learning.

But some pro-gifted and talented parents said the sessions were essentially marketing seminars for the city hall vision instead of meaningful exchanges of opinions.

Critics say the meetings are too short and dominated by DOE officials, leaving parents little time to comment.

“They claim to have views, but at the end of the day everything is predetermined to support the DOE proposal,” said Chien Kwok of Community Education Council 2 in Manhattan.

After logging into several of the forums after being inundated with complaints, Liu said the forums do not involve families enough.

“It’s theater at best,” he said. “But the theater is entertaining and not harmful. It evokes the worst representations of the Orwellian government. “

At a District 4 meeting earlier this month, pro-gifted and talented parents said the Zoom chat feature was turned off because the program’s funders dominated the conversation.

“It’s not the parent’s pledge, it’s a lecture,” wrote one poster.

Community Education Council 4 chairman Kaliris Salas said the discussion was interrupted because some parents were creating an “disrespectful” environment and spreading “misinformation”.

“I’m all about the open conversation and I welcome the speech,” Salas told The Post on Wednesday. “But these people were literally disrupting the meeting. They questioned everything that was said, they called people liars.

Naomi Pena, of Community Education Council 1 in Manhattan, said additional meetings are being held at gifted and talented schools across the city and other perspectives are being heard.

Salas acknowledged that the hour-long meetings are probably too short and lamented that only three parents had time to speak at the District 4 meeting.

Protesters gather at City Hall to condemn Mayor Bill de Blasio’s handling of the gifted and talented public school curriculum on October 14, 2021.
AP Photo / John Minchillo

Parents from other districts said the only meaningful exchanges of views were in the breakout sessions, but the content was not accessible after the meetings.

The DOE stressed that discussions remain open unless the language is deemed offensive by a meeting official.

Opponents of gifted and talented programs argue that the admissions model – where children under the age of four take a standardized test – is outdated and gives an unfair advantage to families of means.

While some proponents agree admissions should be reformed, they counter that advanced learners should have access to accelerated education with peers of comparable ability.

Programs should be expanded rather than eliminated, they argue.

“Parent engagement is essential to Brilliant NYC and these meetings are held to foster productive discussion and commentary,” said DOE spokesperson Katie O’Hanlon. “We have received incredible feedback from parents, educators and community leaders on the meetings that have already taken place across the city and we look forward to visiting every neighborhood in every borough to continue these conversations. ”

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