Seattle Public Schools Shut Down Gifted And Talented Students Program, Citing ‘Equity’ Concerns

The Seattle Public School Board is shutting down gifted and talented programs citing “equity concerns.” 
(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

OAN’s Abril Elfi
11:16 AM – Thursday, April 4, 2024

The Seattle Public School Board is officially shutting down its program for gifted and talented students, due to “equity concerns” related to a lack of diversity.


The school board voted to dismantle the program in 2020 after a previous survey conducted in 2018 found that only 3.7% of its participants were Hispanic and only 1.6% were Black. Additionally, 11.8% of students in the program were Asian and the remaining demographic of students were White (Caucasian). 

“Numbers would suggest that within our city … predominantly White children are more gifted than other cultures and races, and we know that is absolutely not true,” Kari Hanson, the district’s director of student support services, told ParentMap in 2018. “Clearly we’re not identifying our children of color and we need to get down to why…” 

The district began phasing out the program in the 2021-2022 school year and it will be completely obsolete by the 2027-2028 school year.

However, starting next year, every school will have a brand-new “more inclusive” Highly Capable Neighborhood School Model.

“The program is not going away, it’s getting better,” the school district stated in a release. ”It will be more inclusive, equitable, and culturally sensitive. “In particular, students who have been historically excluded will now have the same opportunities for services as every other student and get the support and enrichment they need to grow.” 

Meanwhile, many parents have also reached out to administrators and directly expressed worry that the new model will “overlook advanced students.”

In 2021, Rita Green, the education chair of the Seattle Chapter of the NAACP, called for a complete elimination of Seattle’s gifted student program.

“We want the program just abolished. Period. The Highly Capable Cohort program is fundamentally flawed, and it’s inherently racist,” Green asserted.

The district’s decision also comes amid broader criticism of gifted programs nationwide due to similar equity-related concerns.

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