- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 30, 2014

A popular gifted-student program at a New York City elementary school is getting the ax after school officials decided it lacked diversity.

PS 139 Principal Mary McDonald told parents in a letter Jan. 24 that Students of Academic Rigor, or SOAR, would no longer accept applications for incoming kindergartners, the New York Daily News reported.


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“Our Kindergarten classes will be heterogeneously grouped to reflect the diversity of our student body and the community we live in,” Miss McDonald said in the letter posted on Flickr.com.

At least one parent described SOAR as largely white, while others disagreed, the report said.


One mother conceded the program did have a lot of white students, but worried gifted students now won’t be challenged enough.

“Where are they going to put the higher-level students? Sometimes, there are different levels, and teachers can’t handle all the levels in one class,” she told the Daily News.


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In a follow-up letter sent to parents Monday, Miss McDonald wrote: “At PS 139, we believe that all children can learn and achieve high standards. We also know that we want all children at PS 139 to have equal access to high quality, challenging curriculum, and to have ample opportunities to master complex material and build academic and personal self-confidence. We also want our classes to reflect the diversity of our community. We believe we can have both: classrooms characterized by rigor and diversity.”