New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio may have inadvertently started a religious revival in the Big Apple after announcing the elimination of the Gifted & Talented (G&T) program for the city’s schools.
The Diocese of Brooklyn, which serves 1.2 million Catholics in Brooklyn and Queens, cited that their Catholic elementary schools’ enrollment grew by 2.4 percent for the current school year, according to a report by the New York Post.
The increased interest in religious education comes after more than a decade of decline in enrollment for parochial schools in New York.
But this year the tables are turned as public schools in the city have been plagued by low attendance and steep declines in enrollment with nearly 18 percent of New York City school children failing to show up on the first day of instruction. A risqué drag queen performance at a 2017 New York City elementary school talent show probably didn’t help enrollment numbers either.
“The families that came to us last year stayed with us,” Dr. Thomas Chadzutko, superintendent of the Diocese of Brooklyn’s schools explained. “This is a positive time for Catholic education within the diocese […] It is an alternative for families.”
In particular, pre-kindergarten enrollment has skyrocketed with a 20 percent increase in students this year. Chadzutko is hoping to keep 50 to 70 percent of the new enrollees in the diocesan system which would boost enrollment in future years for elementary and high schools.
Many were enthusiastic about those clamoring to exit the government-run school system with one person exclaiming, “Awesome! Make America God Again!”
Awesome! Make America God Again!
— KMKelly (@Kelly43928293Km) October 16, 2021
Chadzutko declined to comment on de Blasio’s decision to ax the program for accelerated learning in the public school system but noted that the Catholic schools do offer these types of enrichment programs.
“We’re not going to go out there and bash,” Chadzutko said. “But we do have these options.”
Projected enrollment for the larger Archdiocese of New York is also on the rise although they are still finalizing the numbers after they perform their “census.”
“For both the current school year, and the 2020-2021 school year, we have seen increased interest in Catholic schools from parents who are seeking an alternative to their local public and charter schools,” New York Archdiocese spokesman TJ McCormack said in a statement. “Nearly 2,500 of these students have enrolled in our schools over the last two years.”
McCormack also noted that the religious school system already provides a high-quality curriculum.
“Those New York City families impacted by the demise of the public schools’ Gifted and Talented program should know that all of our schools provide an already-challenging and rigorous curriculum that has led our schools to consistently high standardized test scores year after year.”
Former NYPD officer and potential next mayor of New York City Eric Adams confirmed on Friday that he would keep the program with some modifications if he takes office in January.
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