Another case of political correctness gone awry: a school in Brooklyn has decided to scrap its gifted and talented program after accusations that the program was not "diverse" enough.
Citing a lack of diversity, PS 139 Principal Mary McDonald informed parents in a letter that the Students of Academic Rigor and two other in-house programs would no longer accept applications for incoming kindergartners.
“Our Kindergarten classes will be heterogeneously grouped to reflect the diversity of our student body and the community we live in,” McDonald told parents in a letter posted on the photo-sharing site flickr and obtained by Ditmas Park Corner.
The school is roughly two-thirds African American or Hispanic. Asian and white students account for almost 30 percent of the student body. Exact ethnic breakdowns of the Students of Academic Rigor program were not given, although the program was described by some as being "overwhelmingly Caucasian."
This move infuriates me. It would be insane for a school to cut its special education program for developmentally disabled students due to a "lack of diversity" among those who need the services. Students on both ends of the special education spectrum — either gifted or developmentally delayed — need the specialized classes to reach their highest potential as a student. It would be insane to suggest someone with an IQ of 70 (the benchmark for mental retardation) should be grouped in the same classroom with students with an IQ of 100 and treated like everyone else, and it should be considered equally insane to suggest that students who have an IQ of greater than 130 (gifted) need to be in the same classroom as average students to fill some sort of "diversity" quota. That is not fair to both the above-average students and the average students. Studies have shown that grouping gifted children with their non-gifted peers has a negative effect on both parties.
This is a bad move by PS 139. I hope the principal reconsiders her decision, and I hope the parents of children enrolled in the gifted education program are able to successfully advocate for their kids.