Fewer African-American students enrolled at Paterson’s Gifted and Talented Academy, says teacher | Paterson Times

Fewer African-American students enrolled at Paterson’s Gifted and Talented Academy, says teacher


22.6-percent of city students are African-American; however, only 14.1-percent students enrolled at the Paterson Academy for the Gifted and Talented are black, according to demographic data obtained from the Paterson Public Schools.

Marcella Simadiris, a teacher at School 4, has repeatedly questioned the low admission numbers for African-Americans to the high-performing elementary school at numerous school board meetings describing it as an educational “inequity” in the district. Though the data bears out her claim about African-Americans, it also shows the same disparity exists for Hispanics.

paterson-gifted-and-talented-demographics67.7-percent of students in the district identify as Hispanic, but 59.7-percent of students at the academy are Hispanic.

The two groups overrepresented at the school are whites and Asians. 4.6-percent of district students are white; 7.9-percent of students at the academy are white. Similarly, 4.9-percent of district students are Asian; 18.1-percent of students at the academy are Asian, according to demographic data from 2016.

School board president Christopher Irving called the disparity “concerning.” He said the district is working on putting together a plan to possibly revise the admission criteria to improve the “enrollment equity.” While at the same time, he noted, “There has to be kids that fit the criteria.”

Students are admitted based on various test scores, grades, and teacher recommendations. There’s also parent and student questionnaires that are considered for admission.

The school has 41 Asians, 32 blacks, 135 Hispanics, and 18 whites. In all there are 226 students at the academy.

“You’re never going to have the exact numbers given the condition of the students — the lowest performing students in the district happen to be African-American,” said Hodges. Indeed, Hispanics and blacks lag behind Asians and whites in academics, according to numerous studies.

Irving’s remarks suggested admission requirements should not be loosened for demographic balance.

“What I’m asking them to do is find a way to close the overall achievement gap,” said Hodges.

Hodges said the teachers at the academy are “extraordinary.” He would like for some of those teachers to take on early grade students at School 28 to prepare them for the academy. The academy is inside the School 28 building, but it is a separate school. The academy serves students in grades 2-8. He said this would increase the number of students in the district who would qualify for gifted and talented.

paterson-school-district-student-racesState-appointed district superintendent Donnie Evans in a memo dated January 24th, 2017 told board members “all grades and all teachers within the School 28 building benefit from the same high expectations and positive school culture.” His memo states all school building staff participate in the same professional development. This will likely increase the gifted and talented eligibility rate at School 28, he noted.

Terry Corallo, spokeswoman for the Paterson Public Schools, said high number of parents whose students receive acceptance to the school decline. Since the school began in 2012, 131 students have declined after being accepted to the academy. This does not help to ensure proportional enrollment based on district student demographics.

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  • BounceSquad426 .

    It is a shame that both these commisioners and Paterson Public Schools are so brainwashed with the concept of test scores and achievement……below is a quote from Noam Chomsky……

    The whole idea [of ranking] is harmful in itself. It’s kind of a system of creating something called “economic man.” There’s a concept of economic man, which is in economics literature. Economic man is somebody who rationally calculates how to improve his own status (and status basically means wealth).

    So you rationally calculate what kinds of choices you should make to increase your wealth, and you don’t pay attention to anything else. Maximize the number of goods you have, cause that is what you can measure. If you do that properly, you are a rational person making informed judgments. You can improve your “human capital,” what you can sell on the market.

    What kind of human being is that? Is that the kind of human being you want to create? All of these mechanisms- testing, assessing, evaluating, measuring- they force people to develop those characteristics… These ideas and concepts have consequences…”

  • BounceSquad426 .

    At the end of the day if this board and school district are really concerned with children they will ask the questions that clearly need to be asked and share the information with the community so that we can truly move forward. Unfortunately it appears to me (the teacher bringing this forward) that the main concern is that the schools image not be tarnished and that the focus continue to be placed on the high PARCC scores they are able to produce…….However……in the event that a real resolution is desired a full investigation would be launched (inclusive of community) to determine the following…

    What are the demographics of those that were denied?
    What steps are taken when a family declines admission to ensure their is intention on equity?
    How do children of African descent feel in the building?

  • K.S.

    This is deeply disturbing but sadly, it is not surprising at all. Within this system of Racism/White-Supremacy, the victim is always the same. Neely Fuller said "Until you understand racism and how it works, everything else that you do understand will only confuse you". Many "groups" are willing participants and beneficiaries of Black oppression, within this system of Racism/White-Supremacy. Which is clear and obvious based upon the numbers represented within this article. They have bought into this very warped social construct of power, which is intentionally designed to place Black people at a disadvantage. The cruel reality is that even when it comes to the children of this particular group (Black/ Descendants of Africa), the attacks and discrimination does not stop.
    Paterson truly needs to do better by it's children of African Descent. Reading this article makes me think about Dr. Amos Wilson, Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu and Dr. Umar Johnson, all who studied the greatness of the melaninated child and the conspiracies and wars against them. Paterson, you have a duty and a responsibility to Black children/students to address this and to CORRECT IT.