Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth (CTY), founded by psychologist Julian Stanley, has been providing summer academic programs to qualifying children and teenagers for 43 years.
Alumni of the program, which offers classes locally and at colleges across the country, include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and performer Lady Gaga.
But the venerable nonprofit has run recently into an unprecedented snag:
Hundreds of students were told last week that the classes they signed up for were canceled. In some cases, students learned while en route that the three-week course had been scrapped.
Officials told the Washington Post that about 870 of the nearly 2,900 students enrolled in commuter or residential programs for CTY’s first summer session were affected. Some commenters on the story say second-session classes have since been canceled as well.
Officials blame the cancellation on lack of staff due to a tight labor market.
“The labor shortage, which has affected summer programs nationwide, contributed to conditions that make it impossible to deliver an experience that rises to the level of quality our families and CTY expect,” program officials said on a web page set up to answer questions about the mass cancellations.
Among the sites where classes were canceled: Haverford College in Pennsylvania, University of California at Santa Cruz and, in Baltimore, The Gilman School.
“Something very fishy”
Apologizing for “the extreme inconvenience and disappointment our decision and the late timing this notification will cause for families and students,” the officials promised to take “a hard look at our processes and decisions that allowed such an unacceptable outcome to occur.”
Meanwhile, the program is reimbursing tuition, fees and travel costs for those affected, according to the FAQ page, which notes that staff have have extended hours because they are “experiencing an extremely high volume of calls and emails.”
Families and students have been sharing information on a Facebook page, “CTY screwed us 2022” that now has 432 members.
Officials promise to take “a hard look at our processes and decisions that allowed such an unacceptable outcome to occur.”
And commenters on the Post story are expressing skepticism about the program’s explanation for the debacle.
“CTY’s webpage blames ‘the labor shortage, which has affected summer programs nationwide,’” Buskerdoo writes. “Except, other programs seem to be up and running just fine. Something very fishy happened.”
Others were sad to hear about the collapse of a much-loved program.
“Our daughter went for five summers. It was a financial burden for our family, but it was worth every penny! She studied astrophysics, linguistics, paleo biology,” Wendra wrote. ” It was something she looked forward to all year.”