Buenos dias. It’s Friday. Mayor Eric Adams plans to reboot the gifted and talented program for the city’s public schools. We’ll also look at a former New York Rangers player whose scrappiness in the courtroom brought back memories of scrappiness on the ice. And the Mets will play their home opener today.
By expanding the gifted and talented program and permanently eliminating admissions tests, Eric Adams hopes to address what city officials have acknowledged for years: The program has contributed to racially segregated classrooms.
Though 70 percent of the students in the city’s school system are Black and Latino, around 75 percent of the students enrolled in gifted classes are white or Asian American.
Adams said on Twitter that the changes he announced were “about giving every child, in every zip code, a fair chance.” He wants 100 more places for kindergartners and 1,000 more for third-graders, in a system with more than 1 million students.
He would replace the citywide admissions test with a screening process. Pre-K teachers would nominate students who could then apply for a lottery.
But there is a potential catch. Adams’s plan assumes that the State Legislature will agree to extend mayoral control of schools — probably a given, but lawmakers in Albany failed to reach an agreement during budget negotiations, deferring the decision to the remaining weeks of the legislative session.
The reaction, pro and con
Michael Mulgrew, the president of the powerful United Federation of Teachers, said that “expanded access to the city’s gifted and talented programs is long overdue.”
But there were concerns that the mayor’s plan did not go far enough and would still offer only a small number of places for the city’s more than 70,000 kindergartners. And some officials questioned the value of the program itself. “Scaling up a program which separates students, often along the lines of class and race, is a retrograde approach,” Brad Lander, the city comptroller, said in a statement.
Even advocates of gifted and talented programs had concerns. Yiatin Chu, the co-founder of Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education, said that immigrant families would like a “more standardized and less subjective” way to evaluate children than the screening process Adams and his schools chancellor, David Banks, are calling for .
Enjoy a sunny day in the high 60s, with temps dropping to the low 50s at night.
Suspended today (Good Friday) and tomorrow (Passover).
No bail for suspect in Brooklyn subway attack
A federal magistrate judge ordered Frank James held without bail after prosecutors said he carried out an “entirely premeditated” shooting that left at least 30 people injured. James’s lawyers, who said he had called a tip line to surrender, asked Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann to see that James received psychiatric care in jail.
James said little during a hearing on Thursday, often answering questions from Mann with a single, quiet word — “Yes.” He did not enter a plea.
Federal prosecutors wrote in a court filing that James’s lengthy arrest record — nearly a dozen low-level offenses, including reckless endangerment, larceny and trespassing — might seem “unremarkable.” But they argued it presented “a picture of a person with a penchant for defying authority and who is unable or unwilling to conform his conduct to law.”
Mia Eisner-Grynberg, one of his court-appointed lawyers, said outside the courthouse that “initial reports” from the police and news outlets “can be inaccurate” as she cautioned against “a rush to judgment.”
Sean Avery, playing defense in court
The former New York Rangers star Sean Avery had a reputation as what my colleague Jonah E. Bromwich called a provocateur on the ice. Since leaving the National Hockey League, Avery has become a self-appointed bike lane watchdog, posting videos on Instagram of confrontations when he said cycling lane rules had been broken. In 2019, when he came across a car parked in a bike lane in Manhattan, he rammed the car with his scooter.
That encounter has landed him in court, where he is playing a scrappy and unorthodox game of defense. During a proceeding on Thursday, Avery said he wanted to represent himself — and his lawyer de el left, although Judge John Zhuo Wang appointed another lawyer to counsel Avery.
Avery also demanded a jury trial, although bench trials are the norm in cases involving a relatively minor misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief.
Over Avery’s objections, the judge set May 23 as the date for a trial — a bench trial.
The latest New York news
For the Mets, hopes and predictions
Bruce Bukiet will watch the Mets play their home opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks this afternoon and he will hope, because that is what Mets fans do.
His is not the usual fuzzy hope of the Mets fan accustomed to coming so close and being so far — so close to the World Series, so close to the playoffs or just so close to a season above .500. His is the precise hope of someone who went on record last month with a prediction: The Mets would win 88 games this season.
And only finish second in the National League East, behind the Atlanta Braves, with 93 wins.
Bukiet is a professor and associate dean at the New Jersey Institute of Technology who for more than 20 years has predicted, on opening day of the major league baseball season, the end-of-season standings, team by team, with the wins, losses and games back. He relies not on clairvoyance — he is a mathematician — but on a statistical model he developed.
He has learned the hard way that some years are better than others. Last year I predicted that the Mets would win the National League East, followed by the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals. It turned out that the Braves finished first, followed by the Philadelphia Phillies. The Mets came in third.
He correctly predicted five of the 10 teams in the playoffs — “Last year was a lousy year,” he said by way of explanation — and the Braves went on to win the World Series. “I had the Astros with a 55 percent chance of winning,” he said.
This time around, second place in the National League East would put the Mets in the playoffs. He predicted the Braves, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Los Angeles Dodgers would make the playoffs by winning their divisions. Under baseball’s new and expanded playoff system, the other three teams in the playoffs would be those with the most wins, regardless of division. That would mean postseason play for the Mets for the first time since 2016, along with the Phillies and the San Diego Padres — if he is right.
The game this afternoon is being played on the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s major league debut, which broke the color barrier. And this morning the Mets will unveil a statue of Tom Seaver at Citi Field.
What we’re reading
It was December 1995. I was working at a Madison Avenue ad agency and I was on my way to a new colleague’s holiday party in Carroll Gardens. I was 22, ready to conquer the world and quite flattered to have been invited to the party.
My friend and I had just come out of the F train station when I felt as if I’d stepped into a deep hole. Looking down, I saw that the heel on one of my new black boots was barely attached.
I wasn’t about to show up at the party with a broken boot, but I wasn’t going to turn around and go home.
There was a warehouse up the block, and we went in looking for Krazy Glue, which I foolishly thought would be enough to fix the heel.
The young woman at the counter asked why I needed the glue. When I showed her, she called out something in a language I didn’t understand, and a young man in military clothing appeared with a large toolbox.
He motioned for me to give him the boot, and then he proceeded to power drill the heel back into place. I stood there balancing on one leg like an awkward flamingo as people came in for milk and bananas.
The young man reattached the heel and even put some layers of cardboard inside the boot so that I wouldn’t feel the screws.
I offered to pay him, but he refused and sent me off with a gentle warning: Don’t dance too much.
— Alina Shteinberg