Weiner: Fix The Gifted Gap

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The care and feeding of the City's most talented public school students has become a hot issue in [recent weeks].

Today, Brooklyn/Queens Rep. Anthony Weiner, the front-runner in 2009's mayoral race, called on the Department of Education to do more for those gifted students following news that the number of semi-finalists in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search from public schools has dropped 64% over the past five years.

The Intel Science Talent Search is the nation's oldest and most highly regarded science competition where high school students from across the country square off for scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $100,000. Weiner noted that the City has traditionally dominated the contest, posting a strong showing in the first round where more than 1,500 applications nationwide are cut to just 300 semi-finalists. The congressman pointed out that during the 2002-2003 school year, City students claimed 50 of the 300 semi-finalist spots, more than any other city.

However, that number has seen a steady decline since 2002-2003. This year, just 18 semi-finalists from the City are moving on to the next round, 32 students less than five years ago. Weiner also noted that the City's two premiere public high schools, Stuyvesant in Manhattan and the Bronx High School of Science, haven't sent a finalist to the contest in three years.

Weiner's four point plan to fix the gifted gap calls for the expansion of science programs in public high schools, the creation of summer camps for gifted kids, letting top high school students take courses at CUNY campuses and doing a better job of promoting when public school students do succeed in these contests.

"It is worthy and vital that we focus on our struggling students," said Weiner. "But we must always honor our very best kids with the tools to reach their potential. Our young geniuses must not be left ignored."

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