Not only is it getting harder and harder every year for a child who tests gifted to snag a seat in an NYC public Gifted & Talented program, but there is another problem very few talk about: Some neighborhoods have no G&T classes at all. Those neighborhoods, more often than not, are minority neighborhoods.
So what's a parent to do?
The below post was first published in 2009, but it is as relevant this week, when NYC parents are making their school choice decisions, as it was then.
To be Young, Gifted & Black (or Hispanic)... is to be very popular with the New York City private schools.
Imani Johnston (not her real name) is the African-American daughter of a public defense attorney and a teacher living in Manhattan.
Several years ago, when applying for kindergarten, Imani scored in the 99th percentile on the ERB, qualifying her as gifted. Imani's parents submitted her for admission to New York City's ten most highly regarded private schools.
Imani was wait-listed at one, and admitted to nine others, all with a varying degree of financial aid (including one offer of a completely free ride).
Private schools have a long and deserved reputation for being bastions of white privilege. However, in recent years, the majority have made a genuine commitment to diversity in areas of both race and income.
Most Manhattan schools advertise a diversity percentage of around 1/4th of the student body. Some only count African-American and Hispanic pupils. Others include Indians and other Asians in their tallies, while still others mean the number of students on financial aid.
In any case, a gifted child of color (or unique ethnicity) and limited financial means has an excellent chance of securing a spot in a top NYC private school as long as their parents are willing to apply broadly, visiting both traditional and progressive, single sex and co-ed, religious and secular, K-8 and K-12 schools.
But you don't have to go through the process alone. There are a number of organizations in existence to help.
Early Steps guides families through the Kindergarten and 1st grade application process, A Better Chance works with entrants to the 6th through 11th grades, while Prep for Prep serves the aspiring high-school student. The Albert G. Oliver Program identifies New York City’s brightest seventh grade students of African and Latin American descent and prepares them and their families for the transition to independent schools in 9th grade. And The Boys’ Club of New York is home to the nation's oldest Independent School Placement Program.
The most important thing to remember is that the top schools are looking for qualified minority applicants as hard as the parents of gifted children are looking to place them in appropriate schools. They need you as much as you need them.
No gifted child of color and their family should ever believe a private school out of reach due to finances or other considerations.
Learn more about all of your NYC Kindergarten options with "Getting Into NYC Kindergarten," the books that lists them all! Buy on: