Misperceptions Regarding State Law on GATE Requirements

gateSince 2010, Local Districts Have Complete Control Over Local GATE Programs – Proponents of maintaining the current district GATE program have been erroneously citing state law, that effectively no longer exists, suggesting state mandates on GATE programs.

In his letter to the editor, Eric Hays wrote, “Most importantly, there has been what I see as an attempt to redefine GATE as a program specifically for twice exceptional students or ‘real outliers.’ “

He continues, “But that is in no way articulated in the sections of state code (52200 through 52212) that define GATE programs, nor is it in the district’s GATE master plan.”

Bob Erwin also cites the state’s education code.  He writes that state law mandates that GATE is for the student “who is identified as possessing demonstrated or potential abilities that give evidence of high performance capability.”

He argues, “The education code states that the program should provide “unique opportunities for high-achieving and underachieving pupils” (education code section 52200).”

However, Ed Code Section 52200 effectively no longer exists.  The law changed with the advent of SBX3 4 in the 2009-10 Third Extraordinary Session.

Wrote then-Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, “SBX3 4 enacts numerous significant changes to law, which include funding reductions to certain Kindergarten through Grade Twelve education programs and, to mitigate the effects of these reductions, unprecedented budgeting flexibility to local educational agencies (LEAs).”

The result was that what was once categorical funding, that the local district was required to spend on certain specified programs such as GATE, no longer applied.

As a result, the Department of Education (CDE) created a guideline for local districts to explain how the Gifted and Talented Education program is affected by the flexibility provisions from SBX3 4.

As result of the bill, “LEAs may determine whether they will implement any or all of the GATE program and funding requirements. LEAs will be deemed to be in compliance with the GATE program and funding requirements contained in statutory, regulatory, and provisional language.”

They further add, “LEAs may determine whether they will implement any or all of the GATE program requirements related to ensuring parent participation in recommending policy for planning, evaluating, and implementing the district GATE program. LEAs will be deemed to be in compliance with the GATE program and funding requirements contained in statutory, regulatory, and provisional language.”

The governor’s proposed Local Control Funding Formula will permanently take away all categorical compliance laws for these programs.  It will permanently eliminate requirements associated with 40 to 50 categorical programs that are currently dictated by the state and represent more than $7.4 billion in school funding.

The proposed legislation “would revise and recast the provisions related to the public financing system by requiring state funding for county superintendents of schools, school districts, and charter schools that previously received a general-purpose entitlement, to be calculated pursuant to a local control funding formula, as specified.”

The language continues, “The bill would repeal many provisions requiring or authorizing categorical education programs, including those related to conservation schools operated by a county superintendent of schools, apprenticeship programs, training for mathematics teachers, gifted and talented pupils, and home economics.”

It continues, “As to most other categorical education programs, the bill would repeal provisions mandating their performance and requiring dedicated state funding for that performance, and instead would authorize local educational agencies to expend the funds previously required to be spent for the categorical education programs, including, among others, programs for home-to-school transportation, adult education, teacher training, and class size reduction, for any local educational purpose.”

While currently Ed Code Section 52200 is superseded by SBX3 4, the LCFF proposal completely removes the provision from the Ed Code.  Under current law, GATE categorical flexibility would run through 2014-15.  If LCFF is passed, that flexibility will become permanent.

At committee hearings on Tuesday, six superintendents who testified praised the principles behind this proposed school finance reform, but as one publication noted, “There were also sharp disagreements over the components of Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula that would determine how much money districts would get were the new finance system phased in over the next seven years, as Brown hopes.”

The report continues, “At its core, the division was between those favoring the formula as proposed and those arguing that it would give too many extra dollars for English learners and low-income children relative to a base funding amount for all children.”

Christopher Steinhauser, superintendent of Long Beach Unified, said, “The governor’s proposal is a great, bold step to bring equity and access to all children. Never in my lifetime did I think I would see this… It’s the right thing to do. You don’t need to have all of the answers to move forward.”

John Nickerson, superintendent of Acalanes Union High School District, in Contra Costa County with fewer disadvantaged students, had a different take.

“In principle, I support the Local Control Funding Formula, but the base level funding is inadequate. It would potentially crush a district like ours,” Mr. Nickerson said. “It’s not right to have to look at employees who haven’t had a raise in salary for five years and say you will have to wait another five years.”

While these differences will likely sort themselves out, the bottom line seems to be that with regard to GATE funding, the state categorical and Ed Code rules cited by proponents, at the very least, will not be in effect until the 2015-16 school year and likely will be removed once a compromise version of the governor’s LCFF proposal passes.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Mr.Toad

    Get rid of the qualifying exam score. Make it a rigorous magnet program for high achievers but let in anyone willing to try. The key question is can a student with a percentile ranking of 93% or 92% be successful in the program? I think they can especially when coming from the kind of high socioeconomic families that are common in Davis. So, if they want to try let them in. This program doesn’t seem to cost additional money so let supply meet demand, make it an honors program with high rigor and don’t worry about the categorical funding issue.

    Getting rid of the exam will reduce the stigma and division that an exam creates. Whenever you create a bar such as the 98th percentile you need to tell someone no. Then you start making exceptions and before you know it you are at the 96th percentile in some circumstances. At that point someone in the 94rd percentile gets left out and the program is expanded again. Where does it end? It ends when you give up on the exam as a basis for identification.

    For kids that are testing two standard deviations above the norm, the original gifted standard, you can make additional accommodations if they have additional needs,but, as long as there is a qualifying exam there will be exceptions, system gaming, accusations of elitism, private testing, envy, lawsuits, rancorous town hall style meetings, hurt feelings and a community divided.

    Get rid of the test score requirement for entry and most of the rest will work itself out.

  2. memillet

    I’m interested in the idea of making GATE a magnet program open to all. How would it handle kids who can’t keep up? Would/could they be forced out?

  3. Hmmmm...

    [quote]I’m interested in the idea of making GATE a magnet program open to all. How would it handle kids who can’t keep up? Would/could they be forced out? [/quote]

    This is a challenge in the current program, especially for “twice outliers.” The students I know who left the program, including my child, left on their own, in Junior High or High School when they could speak to councelors directly.

  4. Ann@n

    Currently, Davis Joint Unified actually does get money from the state for GATE, but turns around and spends most of that money for other programs. That has been the case for a few years. That’s flexible spending.

    In the future the district may not get money for GATE. But, given the program, as operated in Davis anyway, has essentially no cost, the issue of dedicated money becomes moot. Apparently there is peer reviewed literature in the childhood development field that indicates this kind of program benefits all students in the district, not just the students in GATE. Similar literature debunks the idea of psychological or social harm from these programs. If the program benefits students and is cost neutral, why would the district eliminate it.

    Also, the fact that the state no longer dedicates funding to these programs does not change the state’s definition of who these programs are designed for. It is correct to point to the state code that starts with section 52200 when talking about who the program is designed for rather than make up a definition that suits a political agenda.

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