New York City mayor Bill de Blasio (D.) on Friday ordered the total elimination of the city’s advanced-learning programs in public schools. The move is a major concession in the closing months of the mayor’s term to racial-equity activists who have long called for getting rid of the classes.
The classes, known as “gifted and talented” programs, group together elementary school students who perform well on an admissions exam they take when they’re four years old. Under de Blasio’s overhaul, the programs will be phased out, with the current cohort of enrollees being the last to learn in gifted classes through elementary school.
Critics of the gifted and talented programs say they enforce racial segregation in schools and stand in the way of racial equity. The gifted classes comprise about three-quarters white and Asian students, according to the New York Times. But an April poll found that a majority of New Yorkers support the programs.
“The era of judging four-year-olds based on a single test is over,” de Blasio said in a statement. The mayor proposed an alternative to the gifted and talented programs that would see students assessed at the third grade and offered “accelerated instruction” in classes with other students receiving standard instruction.