New York City Democrat mayoral candidate Eric Adams said he would keep the city's controversial gifted and talented program that Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to eliminate from public schools.
Adams, favored to win the Nov. 2 mayoral election in the extremely blue city, said the program, which has been accused of segregating its mostly Black and Latino students into the poorest-performing schools, should be reformed, not scrapped, Bloomberg reported.
"We need to stop having a segregated school system," Adams said Monday in a virtual press conference with ethnic and community media outlets.
Adams said improving the gifted and talented program starts with pushing state legislators to extend mayoral control of the U.S.'s largest public school system. Mayoral control of city schools ends in 2022.
The Brooklyn borough president also said he would provide entry tests to all children throughout their academic careers, Bloomberg reported. The test currently is given to 4 year olds and is used to identify gifted and talented students. Opponents say children that young haven’t reached their full potential.
Curtis Sliwa, the Republican mayoral candidate, said he would immediately reimplement the program should he become the city’s chief executive.
De Blasio, who will leave office in January, announced an overhaul of the gifted and talented program earlier this month.
The changes include requiring the city's Department of Education to implement a new accelerated learning program in all elementary schools starting with kindergarten in the fall of 2022.
Adams on Monday also said he disagreed with de Blasio's stance that a vaccine mandate was not needed for schoolchildren.
"COVID is a formidable opponent," Adams said. "I want my children in school. I don't want them at home because we have a mass outbreak."
De Blasio was asked about Adams' policy differences.
"Eric Adams has said clearly he understands my job is to govern until the last day on Dec. 31 and his job is to govern from Jan. 1 on," de Blasio said during a separate Monday briefing.
Adams also said he supported allowing noncitizens to vote in local elections and reaffirmed his goal of making sure New York remains a "sanctuary city" for undocumented migrants.
"We need to make sure we give undocumented New Yorkers support they need to allow families to not live in the shadows of American dream," he said.
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