Today’s news:

Public school ‘brain drain’

Educators fear public school students will jump ship for private and parochial schools.

That’s because the city Department of Education (DOE) pushed up the dates for the middle school admissions process — but not enough.

According to Judy Gerowitz, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) representative for School District 21, private and parochial schools generally mail acceptance letters to prospective sixth-graders before public schools do. Not wanting to lose the seats, many parents quickly accept the placements rather than wait for acceptance letters from public schools. This results in many of the district’s brightest students leaving the public school system.

To combat this, the DOE will mail acceptance letters in May, but Gerowitz said that’s not soon enough.

“This is too late,” Gerowitz said at last week’s meeting of District 21’s Community Education Council (CEC). “We heard it would be much sooner than May.”

“Private and parochial schools grab up the students that might be accepted to a gifted program,” she explained.

Under the DOE’s new admissions process for gifted and talented programs, fewer eligible students means fewer gifted classes.

“We lost a few gifted classes this year,” Gerowitz said. “The elementary schools — that is my concern because that’s where we lost classes this year.”

The DOE altered the gifted admissions process with the goal of spreading the programs around the city. There have long been complaints that the programs are concentrated in middle-class areas with predominantly white student populations.

However, the new system set higher admissions standards and resulted in half as many children being admitted to gifted programs this fall compared to the year prior.

According to DOE records posted at http://schools.nyc.gov/Academics/GiftedandTalented/ProgramsServices/default.htm, District 21 currently has six gifted programs in elementary schools and seven gifted programs in middle schools.

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