A pair of City Council members is urging the de Blasio administration to use remote learning to better “desegregate” the district — including by offering more gifted and talented programs.
In a letter to schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday, Councilmen Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) and Robert Cornegy (D-Brooklyn) said online instruction frees the district up from building space and cost restraints.
That means remote learning can be molded to suit individual student needs — and even offer G&T-level instruction for kids in areas that don’t have the coveted programs, the pols said.
“The virtual schools within this new district would be organized around learning style, enrichment, and even common interest,” the letter stated. “Enrichment programs like Gifted and Talented or those tailored to specific interests and remote-learning styles could finally be offered to every student who qualified.”
Cornegy and Kallos argued in their letter that educational opportunity is distributed unevenly across the city — often on racial and socio-economic lines — and that remote learning can help to address that imbalance.
Instead of being limited to a handful of schools in a handful of districts, dual-language programs from Creole to Korean could expand across the city and “attract students of every color and creed,” according to the letter.
Organized under duress last school year during the COVID-19 crisis, remote learning received decidedly mixed reviews from parents — many of whom complained about the lack of live teaching.
The mayor has also been clear in stressing the inferiority of learning through a screen rather than in a classroom.
But Cornegy and Kallos contend that the system can be vastly improved if prioritized.
“Teachers, students, and families faced the very real challenge of unexpectedly transitioning to remote learning quickly and in the face of an emergency,” Cornegy told The Post.
“With the benefit of more time to plan and time to assess what worked well and what we have to work at more, I expect remote learning to grow more capable of delivering the high quality education our children deserve.”
The letter conceded that the creation of a new district would take time and proposed a pilot program this upcoming year to test and assess its potential.
“What we are urging is the [city] Department of Education to intentionally look at some of the possibilities given the realities of Covid-19, and look towards creating virtual opportunities that can be attractive to students and parents in a post-Covid-19 world,” Cornegy said. “The ultimate shape could be more gifted and talented learning opportunities, more language immersion and dual language learning opportunities, or more blended learning opportunities.”
Under the city’s current model, kids will alternate between home and classroom learning during the week.
Individual families will have the option of going full remote if they choose.
“Equity is at the core of all the work we do, and this fall will be no different. We thank the Council Members for sharing their idea and will review the letter,” said DOE spokesperson Miranda Barbot.