Education

Leave Every Child Behind

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio addresses the New Hampshire Democratic Party state convention in Manchester, September 7, 2019. (Gretchen Ertl/Reuters)
In de Blasio’s world, excellence deserves punishment.

New York City’s School Diversity Advisory Group brims with handpicked comrades of Mayor Bill de Blasio and his schools chancellor, Richard Carranza. This race-obsessed panel recently demanded the elimination of all Gifted & Talented programs in Gotham’s government schools. The SDAG proposes to sacrifice NYC’s high-achieving children on the altar of “equity and inclusion.”

This cadre of bean-counters sees advanced students actually learning and immediately invokes the Deep South. An SDAG report last month called New York’s merit-based G&T campuses “as segregated as the schools of Mississippi and Alabama.” Perhaps deliberately, this provocative comparison conjures emotional memories of Birmingham’s Jim Crow–era commissioner of public safety, Bull Connor, a Democrat, aiming fire hoses at black kids.

Gotham’s parents reacted fiercely to SDAG’s rotten advice. Left-wing politicians and commentators who normally applaud most any liberal scheme balked at SDAG’s War on Gifted Children. This brainstorm was too much even for United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew, who seems to favor any plan to destroy educational opportunity. “Every community has children who could thrive in a gifted and talented program, and it is our responsibility to help our children reach their full potential,” he stated. “We do not support the elimination of the city’s gifted and talented programs.”

Former state assemblyman Michael Benjamin, a Democrat representing the Bronx, wrote in the New York Post, “Team Carranza doesn’t simply want to level the playing field; they want to dig it up and salt it.” Benjamin and his brothers are G&T alumni from the Bronx. He recalled his G&T times as “the finest years of my young school life. I felt as though I finally belonged. I didn’t have to hold back, and I had to run to keep up academically.” He added that the best way to help black and Latino children attend the best high schools “shouldn’t be to dig out the pipeline, but to restore it.”

New York City Council member Robert Cornegy, a Democrat representing Bedford-Stuyvesant, dismissed SDAG’s scheme in a New York Post op-ed headlined “How Gifted and Talented Programs Boost Minorities.” “Excellence in education means providing each student the opportunity to achieve,” Cornegy wrote. He then turned the tables on SDAG’s racemongers: “Rather than seeing these programs as an impediment to diversity in our schools, I see these programs as a catalyst for helping children from black and brown communities get into specialized high schools.”

SDAG’s members cynically ignore strong evidence that G&T programs still lift minority participants, just as they benefited the Benjamin brothers. Education Chancellor Carranza’s crony Matt Gonzales came to NYC from California, importing with him his warped ideology, and wound up on SDAG. The New York Daily News found Gonzales complaining about Chinese and white parents advocating for their children together. He called this “something very ugly” and insinuated that Americans of Asian descent wouldn’t advocate for their children without whites jangling their alleged puppet strings. This prompted the Chinese American Citizen Alliance of Greater New York to issue a press release “Condemning the Racist SDAG Member.” CACAGNY demanded: “Gonzales should be removed from the SDAG because of his racially biased positions.” His comment, the group said, “reflects racial bigotry and a total lack of understanding of the issues confronting the Asian American community in New York City.”

According to City Journal’s Seth Barron, Carranza retransmitted a Twitter entry by Gonzales called “White Lips to White Ears,” which appears on Medium. As Barron described Gonzales’ post, “His piece details a 2015 camping trip he took, during which a white woman disagreed with his views on white supremacy — specifically, that she was a beneficiary of it and advocate for it. Everyone else on the trip agreed with Gonzales — ‘everyone but Becky. Her name’s not really Becky, but let’s call her Becky. Becky disagreed. Becky felt attacked.’” (Becky is a common, dismissive shorthand for white women. As The Root explains, “Not all white women are Beckys, but all Beckys are white women.”) As Reason magazine’s Matt Welch noted, Gonzales said: “Having to talk about someone’s own whiteness is a requirement for them [sic] to become liberated.”

So, a member of de Blasio/Carranza’s handpicked “diversity” panel slurs with impunity both whites and those with Asian backgrounds.

Most likely, thanks to parental and public pushback against his War on Gifted and Talented Children, Carranza retreated just before the new school year began, earlier this month.

“I just want to assure parents that students that [sic] are currently in gifted and talented programs this year are not going to have the rug pulled out from under them,” Carranza said on September 4. “We’re not closing those programs.” Instead, he promised to review the G&T efforts. “But that’s not going to happen tomorrow. And it’s not going to happen next week. It’s not going to end the program this year.”

Translation: de Blasio/Carranza’s G&T-phobic attacks could resume as soon as 2020.

Last Earth Day, de Blasio announced jaw-dropping plans to ban skyscrapers from New York’s skyline. “They have no place in our city or our earth anymore.” Most New Yorkers marvel at these magnificent structures that aspire to touch the heavens. They are not jealous of the men who created them. Rather, they are proud to be New Yorkers who live in a city where such greatness can be attempted and, so often, accomplished. In de Blasio’s world, excellence deserves punishment. Like the skyscrapers he hates, those who rise too high — from the reviled “rich” to striving white and Asian-heritage children — must be knocked down.

De Blasio and Harrison Bergeron–style Handicapper General Carranza want to destroy greatness in the name of “equity.” If that means hanging lead weights around children’s necks, then by all means necessary, those lead weights will hang. 

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