Guest Commentary: School Board’s AIM Decisions Create More Problems than They Solve

gate-2by Debbie Nichols Poulos

In 2014, California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) legislation redistributed state funding from several categorical programs, including GATE, into districts’ general funds, allowing school boards to make decisions about how to allocate the funds to best meet the needs of their student populations. According to the Department of Education website: “The LCFF provides a unique opportunity for local school boards to expand upon or develop new education opportunities for high-ability students in California public schools, particularly those who are traditionally underrepresented in GATE programming. The LCFF requires stakeholder input during the development of Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP), further expanding the opportunity for educators, families, and other stakeholders to provide input as districts develop their annual budgets.”

Instead of acting as the state intended the DJUSD board has moved to dismantle its AIM program. And instead of consulting stakeholders for input, the DJUSD board has proceeded without a public hearing.

Now that the money it gets from the state is not tied to the number of GATE students it serves, the DJUSD AIM program is expendable. Relying on mostly anecdotal evidence of perceptions and personal opinions, and a solitary questionable study, the board has set in motion a “plan” to vastly reduce the number of GATE identified students who will be eligible for the AIM program.

It has been clear for some time that many parents, teachers, and board members are anti-AIM. They describe the program as primarily serving the needs of high achieving or accelerated learners who could be served just as well in regular classrooms. What eludes them is that when high achieving or accelerated gifted students are placed in the regular classroom, they do not perform as well as they might if they were placed with more students like themselves. They feel uncomfortable about being so far ahead of most kids in regular classrooms. And teachers, who may have only one or two of these students in their classrooms, have a difficult time providing the kind of accelerated or advanced curriculum these students need.

Opponents of AIM don’t recognize that these students not only need appropriate curricular adaptations, they also need to be surrounded by their intellectual peers. Isolated in regular classrooms they are without the kind of peer support so critical to their thriving and reaching their potentials.

These are students whose reading/language skills, or math/science skills, can be several years above grade level. These students flourish when grouped with enough of their peers to feel like they “fit in,” rather than like “misfits.” There are certainly plenty of other high achieving students in the regular classroom who are not GATE identified, and there are also GATE identified students whose parents choose to keep them in the regular classroom. What research or rationale supports the notion that more GATE identified students are “needed” or “equally well served” in classrooms not designed to meet their unique needs, taught by teachers not trained to meet these needs?

To say that regular classroom teachers are untrained to meet the needs of gifted identified students is not a criticism of these excellent hard working teachers, it is simply a fact. We don’t say that the fact that many regular classroom teachers are not trained to teach Spanish Immersion is a criticism. Why do we accept this parallel critique with regard to GATE training? Neither these programs, nor their teachers, are in competition with each other. AIM is just one among the many complementary programs the DJUSD offers to meet the diverse needs of its student population.

At the heart of the current controversy is the issue of testing. Some parents, teachers, and board members have expressed a concern that AIM qualified students are being “over identified.” If this is the case, a very careful examination needs to take place, not an ad hoc eleventh hour action. On June 4th the board used a report that found AIM students to be over identified to eliminate private testing. The report found that, using annual achievement test scores, AIM students didn’t show sufficient improvement to justify the AIM program.

In these actions the board has created two problems:

One, how will the district identify gifted students with learning disabilities, language barriers, or cross-cultural limitations unless it provides individual testing? If it eliminates private testing the district MUST provide this testing. Otherwise it will be discriminating against a group of potentially gifted students, leaving them without appropriate educational services.

Two, why should only the AIM program be evaluated using an achievement test standard of improvement from year to year? If this standard is required for evaluation of AIM, it should be required of every other program in the district: DaVinci, Spanish Immersion, King High, Montessori, and the regular classroom program. Otherwise the district is discriminating against just one class of students. The diversity of programs offered by the DJUSD is one of the reasons this district is known for its high quality education.

The best tests for identifying gifted students measure not “what they know,” but “how they think.” These tests use patterns, spatial relationships, and other non-verbal items to evaluate “giftedness.” These tests are open ended so there is no ceiling to limit how far children can go. Unless the district provides individual testing it will be disadvantaging a large number of gifted students who “hide in plain sight” in regular classrooms across the district.

Many of our GATE identified students are “odd ducks;” they stick out and are isolated in regular classrooms. But once in self-contained classrooms they have a chance to feel regular, like “one of the flock,” even “average,” as one father most eloquently stated during public comment on June 25th. Instead of flaunting their exceptional abilities and feeling superior, these students often feel inferior and want to hide. Left in regular classrooms these students often feel alienated from classmates; they feel so different they all too readily decide there is something wrong with them. It is crucial to these students’ self-esteem to be with their social-emotional-intellectual peers.

Mistaken assumptions about giftedness are commonplace. But for the DJUSD to rely on mistaken, even prejudicial information, to dismantle a program that serves twenty percent of the entire district’s student population cannot be tolerated. If the board went after Spanish Immersion or DaVinci in this way, AIM supporters would certainly come out demanding that there be a fair hearing. I urge others of good conscience in the district to demand a fair hearing for AIM.

Debbie Nichols Poulos is a retired DJUSD GATE teacher and a member of the Davis City Council from 1984 to 1988.

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  1. ryankelly

    There is so much wrong here, I don’t know where to start.

    The District is not dismantling the GATE program.  There will be a GATE program, just not one that is so large and looks like an honors program for children of well-educated parents.

    With 30% of our students currently being GATE identified, it is unlikely that students would find themselves in classrooms with only 1 0r 2 peers.  It has been suggested that if our testing procedures were done in a equitable manner, that identification of eligible children might reach 60% of our students..  I’d say with confidence that our children would have comparable peers in every class.  They would also learn to work in an environment with people of different abilities and strengths.

    I believe that the Board is interested in serving the “odd ducks” that are ill-served in regular classrooms with a self-contained class for these children.

    The GATE program has had a fair hearing.  This has been discussed for decades.  The rhetoric coming from the GATE community never changes – even in the face of research.  What new information would be offered?

    It is a matter of equity.  Equity in testing.  Equity in teacher preparation.  Equity in access.  Equity in opportunity.  Equity in advocacy.  Equity in district services.


  2. wdf1

    Poulos:  Many of our GATE identified students are “odd ducks;” they stick out and are isolated in regular classrooms.

    I can see how this argument would make sense if 3-5% of students were GATE identified.  But when 30+% of students are GATE identified, then it is harder to see how the “odd duck” argument remains valid.


    1. Davis Progressive

      it seems to me the big problem is that they lumped a ton of categories into the gate program – but i think the key question is still the same – does it work?

  3. MrsW

    “odd ducks”

    When labeling children–particularly when using the labels to justify something as important as segregation in 2015 United States–I prefer the terms “orchid children” and “dandelion children.” These are terms that Ellis and Boyce introduced in 2005, I think, and describe the effects of parenting on a child’s development.  However, I think the terms can be generalized to any environment that participates in a child’s upbringing.  “Dandelion children” seem to have the capacity to survive—even thrive—in whatever circumstances they encounter and are psychologically resilient. “Orchid children,” in contrast, are highly sensitive to their environment.  Orchid children are children who can either wither or thrive, depending on the environment. I believe it is Orchid children who need to be placed in a different environment temporarily, until they can thrive with the rest of us.

    I’ve provided a link to a summary published in Scientific American below.

    DSIS has been a great option for a number of GATE/AIM families because we’re providing the dominant school environment for our children. Not all families have the option.

    1. VoiceOfReasonInDavis

      Is Da Vinci segregation? Is Montessori segregation? Is Fairfield segregation? Is varsity football segregation? Is fourth grade segregation from fifth grade?

      And are you telling AIM families to put their kids in DSIS and home school them? Homeschooling is great for some kids–but not right for others, and many families don’t have a parent with time to homeschool.



      1. hpierce


        I think MrsW is speaking some truths… if you think one size (or even 20) fit all, I believe you do not understand life.  There are many paths, and many destinations.  Some of the paths converge, others don’t.  To appropriate a slogan, we should be helping our children (and ourselves) to “be the best they can be”.  Some paths are academic… some are social… most are combinations.  GATE/AIM, as it exists today, in my opinion, needs work and at least “tweaking”, if not full ‘re-formation’.  I say that having been there, and having three very different children.  Two were GATE-identified, one went thru the program, and the third is personally, professionally, and financially the ‘winner’.

        The other two are still ‘figuring things out’ as young adults, but I have every hope and expectation that they will ‘find their way’.  Life is not an equation.  Good thing.

        1. hpierce

          “Segregation” is not an inherently ‘bad word’.  We ‘segregate ‘ all the time… the choice of our investments, what we choose to eat, etc.  “Segregation” was a word co-opted by mean-spirited, and/or good-spirited people in the 50’s/60’s, etc. to describe a bad situation, that I believe would more accurately termed as “aparthied”.

          In my view, ‘segregation’ is logical, unless you believe “one size fits all”.  Yet, there is, like in most things, the danger of ‘pidgeon-holing’, making gross assumptions about individuals or groups.  I believe we should be more nuanced than that.

          In my G&T program, kids were brought into our classes who needed to expand their horizons, even tho’ they didn’t “qualify” for G&T.  They did great!  Many were ‘minorities’ (need to say that, given the school I was at, ‘whites’ made up maybe 33% of the student body… Asians ~ 33%, Black ~ 33 %…  almost no Latinos).

          I would hate to see the word “segregation” lumped into the re-definitions of perfectly good words like “faggot” ( piece of wood, cigarrette), “gay” (used to mean ‘happy’, care-free), etc.

          “Segregation” is not a problem, UNLESS it is done for perverted purposes.


    2. Frankly

      I like to categorize adults…. but even though this two-flower theory makes sense, I recoil at any categorization of children if that categorization is not highly granular.  Even the adult-targeting Myers Briggs Type Indicators are 16.  When you put together human personality along with the dynamism of developing child hormonal, social, mental, and psychical changes… well, IMO, anything less that a highly granular categorization is going to be harmful to many of the kids.

      I will use my two kids for example.  Bright, artistic and high-functioning socially/emotionally, but not academically gifted.  But then each is differentiated again.  One could not stop reading, the other did not like to read.  One liked math problems, the other would switch off at anything representing a number.  One liked to draw and taught himself how to juggle well enough to probably survive on the streets if needed, but didn’t do well with music.  The other is pursuing music and is highly-talented enough to probably survive on the streets if needed, but could not draw (or juggle) to save his life.

      One was great with ball sports, the other not so much but was a runner.

      But the things they could not do before, and now some of their passions.  The non-reader is reading like crazy and the non-number guy wants to be in business for himself.  The non-ball sports guy is now into golf (something his brother was a natural at).  The non-runner is still a non-runner, but is suddenly interested in fitness from weigh lifting.

      The point here is that every child has an inventory of unique learning strengths and weaknesses… and possibly more important… motivational interests….  and then those are constantly changing.

      I don’t trust the education system to not damage the one-shot public education learning opportunity of kids with low-granularity categorization techniques like AIM/GATE.  It will help a few at the expense of others.  My two disliked their Davis public school education from middle school on.  They tell me they felt like they did not fit in.  They learned to dislike learning even though they were/are part of a learning family.  They were part of that lost middle group of kids that I hear a lot about… echos of the same.

      Instead of categorization that risks this type of disenfranchisement of engagement, each child should be viewed as a different type of precious stone that needs to be uniquely and expertly cut and polished as a shining gem that goes on to the next phase in life.  The need is differentiation in the classroom, not this partitioning and categorization to make up for the lack of differentiation.

      My two boys are fine and I expect them to be successful as they finish their delayed higher-learning education and launch… but their Davis schools experience was a setback for their development primarily because the system did not differentiate.

        1. Frankly

          If you do low-granularity categorized carve-outs, you take resources away from what could otherwise be used for differentiation.

          You wash your hands of concern that you are not doing a good enough job providing diverse learning opportunities to meet the needs of kids in general.

          There is utility in the approach you are advocating, but it is sub-optimized in consideration of the entire student body.   I don’t accept that level of imperfection when it comes to the one-shot public education opportunity.

          1. Don Shor

            If you do low-granularity categorized carve-outs, you take resources away from what could otherwise be used for differentiation.

            I believe this is false. What resources do you take away? And if you have some students who learn better in separated, rather than differentiated, classrooms, are you not harming them by failing to provide that?

            You wash your hands of concern

            To the contrary. You are providing the best resources to kids at each level.

            it is sub-optimized in consideration of the entire student body.

            How is it beneficial to the whole student body to have some students not learning at their appropriate pace?

            I don’t accept that level of imperfection when it comes to the one-shot public education opportunity.

            I believe self-contained GATE is the only “one-shot” option for some kids. I can certainly accept debates about what percentage and how they are assessed or identified. But the notion that all students will learn best in a mixed-level environment is, in my very strongly held opinion based on personal observation, completely false.

        2. Frankly

          It is a data and research term: classification and granularity.  You can visualize it in a taxonomy.  With kids, it should be a large taxonomy.   Think of it as a development-needs fingerprint.   No two are going to be alike.  Until we get to that point in acceptance and understanding, and tool our education system to the “school of one” model where every student has a uniquely tailored learning path matching their unique taxonomy, we will be sub-optimized in education quality.

          You do this in a framework of expected outcomes.

          I just got out of a meeting with one of my staff work-groups talking about some organization changes and the opportunity to revisit roles, expectations and development opportunities.  Each of my employees is a unique development challenge and opportunity and their needs and interests change as does the needs of the business.  My job as a manager is to try and optimize it all (in fine granularity) for the best outcomes.   I believe that should be the role of a teacher… to optimize it all for the best outcomes.

          This requires a paradigm shift in the business of public school education.  But every time we solve the problems of inadequate differentiation with another low-granularity carve-out we delay the needed paradigm shift.

          AIM/GATE is just a band aide on the large gaping wound of education system inadequacy, IMO.

      1. hpierce

        “I like to categorize adults”.  Scary.  Think you are really more nuanced than that, though.  Perhaps a “bon mot”?

        Whenever we get too ‘into’ categorizing, we become detached from individuals, and tend to not treat them as sentient human beings, who are similar to us in ways we may not want to admit.

        1. Frankly

          It is my marketing business degree, combined with an understanding that we cannot afford to NOT categorize adults but only based on views and behaviors… especially when they collect together for political action.

  4. MrsW

    the key question is still the same – does it work?

    Agreed.  And there are a number of questions DJUSD could answer.  There should be 20 years or so of this information that could be analyzed.  I’m sure other people can add more:

    1. What are the graduation rates of AIM students compared to non-AIM students?  Do we see the higher drop-out rates predicted by historical studies? Or do we see the same or lower drop-out rates because we have a program?  These rates might need to be calculated 3 ways, against students who participate in 4-6 grades only, 7-10  grades only, or 4-10 grades only.

    2. How many students who enter the program at 4th grade complete the program through 10th grade?

    3.  If a student leaves the program before 10th grade, where does s/he go?

    4. How many AIM students complete the A-G requirements in comparison to non-AIM students?

    These same questions could be looked at by ethnicity of the AIM identified, as well.


    1. hpierce

      Add  to your list, #/% of graduates who attend/complete college. Also, % of those who  find ‘meaningful’ jobs, where ‘meaningful’ = self-supporting and personally satisfying.  Just a friendly suggestion.


    2. David Greenwald

      Mrs.W – I can’t help but wonder if these are meaningful questions.  For example, the graduation rates – what are your expectations?  Higher rates for GATE than non-GATE?  If so, aren’t we failing the non-GATE?  The same?  Som might interpret that to mean that GATE doesn’t work the alternative is that it is working as it is supposed to for both.  The problem is this – I don’t know what we’re supposed to find, so it’s hard to evaluate what we do find.

      1. MrsW

        Websites advocating for GATE education use terms like “wasted potential” and “wasted human capital” if these students don’t get to learn in the environment they need.  Getting these students to stay engaged in school, they say, will be better for our society because they’ll contribute at a higher level.  They use studies that show that GATE students kept in regular programs graduate at rates that are actually LOWER than then non-GATE students.  My expectation is that the GATE program should be bringing the rates up to at least equivalent.

        We all like to imagine our kid will be Bill Gates and then graduating wouldn’t matter.   But the more common GATE-identified underachiever has reduced his options by not performing well in school.  Not performing in school has huge implications in our society today.

        I believe the questions about graduation rates, and others, have not been asked in the past by DJUSD, because of fear that they’d be used to curtail or shut down the program.  But they could also be used to advocate for the program and be used fine tune the program, so that it works for more students for a longer period of time.  DSIS may be the environment that is reaching underachieving GATE students at DJUSD–shouldn’t we want to know that?   And consciously decide if that’s what we want to do?  And have a plan for those students who cannot stay home alone when parents are working?

      2. MrsW

        What if DJUSD was proposing the program today for the first time?  What would you want to know, to convince you that a self-contained program is the right way to go?

        1. David Greenwald

          I would start with wanting to know (A) What is the need? (B) What would kids get that they are not getting? (C) What the research suggests for other districts and their experiences with the program. (D) How are they identified? (E) Whether the programs developed help only a subsection of kids or the district as a whole.

          1. David Greenwald

            Identification of students who are not performing well in the current classrooms, underperformance by students who should be higher achieving, and evidence that the material is effective for students.

        2. Sam

          David- The need is to identify a child that is not going to preform like a typical child in school. Those children are going to give teachers false indicators that will be misunderstood unless they are identified.

  5. iWitness

    Mrs. W,

    1)  Seems like the counseling office could tell us this if they had time to compile the data.  What historical studies predict a higher drop-out rate of GATE students?

    If they’re smart enough to want to get away with a minimum of student loan debt, they’re smart enough to stay in school and take those AP courses for all they’re worth.  And go where they are recognized, which isn’t always where you think.

    2)  For the record, there is one GATE 10th grade class at the high school, not one year, one class, GATE English, and into that one funnel all the students from Holmes and Harper GATE programs, and it’s usually not full.

    3)  Again, someone could tell us but do they want to?  I think a lot of them are in Honors English.

    4)  ditto

    5)  Consider the lilies.

    Hpierce, I suppose you mean those aging techie drop-out losers who now own the equivalent of large parts of the world surface plus sports teams?  Those who haven’t died of cancer, that is?

    DG, you’re right,  this isn’t a very meaningful path.   Why do higher rates of all these variables have to mean GATE is better than non-GATE or vice versa?    Terman’s Termites, the original kids in the study of the highly gifted, had a few losers but were famously happier in vaster numbers throughout their lives, and healthier and had better marriages, more successful careers.  I think they were still being followed in their 70’s.  There is even such a thing as better than 20-20 eyesight.  But those who get hit by drunk drivers at 9 am on a Tuesday or are murdered while on summer vacation before senior year in all-expenses-paid college, after giving all the kids in the neighborhood haircuts for free, don’t seem to do as well as other gifted kids.  Life happens.  There are too many variables, and we would do better reading books on understanding how to do effective differentiation, or the Franco-Prussian War.

    1. hpierce

      As to “I suppose you mean those aging techie drop-out losers who now own the equivalent of large parts of the world surface plus sports teams?  Those who haven’t died of cancer, that is?” , you couldn’t be farther “off”… it is not worth my effort to correct you.

      1. Sam

        The misconception of how a highly intelligent child learns and the reasons for needing special education is almost at a criminal level in this town.

        1. hpierce

          I hope you’re not saying everyone thinks/processes informarion in the same way.  That is untrue.  Think bell curve(s).  Many ‘gifted’ people can’t do simple math.  Einstein was one .  Autism, ‘Down Syndrome’, ‘idiot-savants’, ‘genius-ism’, etc., are not near the peak of the bell curve.  They are “out-liers”.

          They are also all human, and can, given the right support, become self-supporting, productive, loving, and wonderful parts of society.  We should address  ALL of the needs.  The question is HOW.  I do not know the precise answer, but I do strongly suspect that the current GATE/AIM program is flawed.  I believe we need to re-form it, but I also believe that it would be just as ‘wrong’ to eliminate it, as it would be to eliminate special support to those who have learning difficulties, or physically challenged kids.

        2. Sam

          No, I’m saying the exact opposite, but people seem to believe that all highly intelligent children get straight A’s, into Harvard and are now tech wizards.

  6. MrsW

    Why do higher rates of all these variables have to mean GATE is better than non-GATE or vice versa? 

    I don’t use the word “better,” nor do I say mine are the only questions that should be asked.

    I think its practical and responsible to seek multiple lines of evidence that would allow the program to be evaluated–what’s working and what isn’t–and then change/tweek/reform judiciously, if indicated.  I personally would NEVER select human beings in all of their complexity  for a pull-out program in a democratic society based on a single number.  I would NEVER say a program is working or not working on one metric either. That said, I would NEVER keep my head in the sand by not asking any questions what-so-ever about whether or not the program is working, particularly as anecdotal evidence is piling up that it may not be.  With multiple lines of information, including the credentials of those who work with GATE students, those in charge could be advocating for improved outcomes for our GATE students.  Instead, for years now, the subject has been taboo.

    There are costs and benefits to our AIM program.  We should be asking ourselves, if the costs are worth the benefits all of the time.  And if they are not, what do we need to change to make the costs worth it?  What if the change required could be implemented easily–what if all that is needed to mitigate the social costs to our school communities is contained within playground supervision, PE classes, and cooperative learning opportunities like putting on plays or model UN?  Wouldn’t we want to do that?

      1. MrsW

        IQ is a fundamentally personal characteristic.  Getting into a program that uses IQ to screen for admittance in a university town matters more to an individual’s identity and family’s identify than whether or not they got into Montessori.   I’ve had parents lie to me that their child qualified for AIM.  As far as I know, no other program inspires lying.

      2. Frankly

        I think any program that segregates children into categories of academic capability, while maybe helping some children, causes us to miss the mark in achieving education excellence for all children.

        1. Don Shor

          Why? If each group of kids is learning more with his/her peers with respect to learning style and pace, and has teachers trained to that, how are you harming anyone?

  7. hpierce

    “There are costs and benefits to our AIM program.  We should be asking ourselves, if the costs are worth the benefits all of the time.  And if they are not, what do we need to change to make the costs worth it?  What if the change required could be implemented easily–what if all that is needed to mitigate the social costs to our school communities is contained within playground supervision, PE classes, and cooperative learning opportunities like putting on plays or model UN?  Wouldn’t we want to do that?”

    This is an extremely good point.

    We also need to look at the training/abilities of the folk who “deliver” instruction. Historically, teachers in GATE/AIM have been chosen by their in-house “clout”/likeability, rather than their ‘credentials’/’gifts’.

    1. iWitness

      We also need to look at the training/abilities of the folk who “deliver” instruction. Historically, teachers in GATE/AIM have been chosen by their in-house “clout”/likeability, rather than their ‘credentials’/’gifts’.

      Teachers in the AIM program have certification in GATE education and years of GATE classroom teaching experience.  Of course if there is a lot of turnover and that’s been the case at times, people don’t develop their teaching skills.  In the past not everyone who was assigned to GATE wanted to teach there.  Sometimes they were the teachers new to the District at the bottom of the pecking order.  Sometimes they still are.  There was turnover in GATE at Harper until the new principal came in.


      The comment about in-house clout is laughable when it comes to GATE.  There is none.  Isn’t that why we are having a discussion about it?

        1. DavisAnon

          Hpierce, I mean no offense, but why are we talking about the 90’s?? That’s 20+ years ago. Current AIM teachers are certainly not chosen on likeability.

  8. iWitness

    Please, live and let live. If you don’t think it works, please, no one is forcing you into it. But if some think it does, then let them decide what’s best for their children. To another 10% that worry about “equity” my response is: Well, if you think this program is “better” and the other one is not, let’s raise the educational standard and curriculum for ALL students. Is that what you want? And what if some parents do not want that level for their children? Don’t they have a right to a different style of education? That is what the self-contained approach does – it lets both groups have what they want. 

    I’m posting these comments for a friend who does not have access, at his explicit request.  (If this isn’t proper on this format, take them out, though I fully agree with them. )


    1. Don Shor

      If you don’t think it works, please, no one is forcing you into it.

      Absolutely. It mystifies me why so many people care so much about choices other people are wishing to make for their children. I continue to argue for self-contained GATE at some level in DJUSD because it was essential, in my opinion, for my child and I perceive that there are many who wish to take that option away. It is essential for some kids. If you don’t want your kid in GATE, you have that choice. If the issue is how kids are tested/selected for it, then focus on that — though there is clearly no perfect testing solution.

      1. hpierce

        Gotta ask, Don, but will understand no response… you say that ‘self-contained’ GATE was essential for your child.  My experiences are that it can be a good “bridge” but in the real world, we cannot be “self-contained”.  That reality is also an important part of ‘education’.  Hope your child used the bridge and ended up on their own firm ground.

        I do not oppose GATE/AIM (actually, support it), but I see problems with how it is being ‘administrated’.  I take umbrage (extreme!) with those who portray the current conversation as an either/or proposition, and yes, I blame Greenwald and Munder for the “my way or the highway” flavor.


        1. Don Shor

          It was a bridge to DSIS, which served that child very well. Academically and professionally my non-GATE child has exceeded my GATE child. Personally I think both are very fulfilled in what they do. The non-GATE child took a very linear trajectory: high school to USMC, to college and graduate degree, to a good job that pays well. GATE child has taken/is taking a non-linear trajectory.

        2. hpierce

          Don, my experience is similar to yours, but it’s a mixed bag… was G&T, took a linear trajectory… two children who were GATE eligible, non-linear trajectories.  One child “average”, took linear trajectory, now is the first in the family to earn a Masters degree, and is professionally and financially excelling.

          We need to get beyond labels and ideologies, and focus on what do the kids need to thrive.  One size does not fit all.

        3. Sam

          Don-Do you think if the GATE program was smaller and only served the highly intelligent children then the program could be better focused on the issues that those children have and prevent students from having to be homeschooled later on? I am very interested in your opinion if you are willing to share it.

      2. MrsW

        If you knew at 3rd grade that there was a high probability that your child would end up at DSIS, do you think you would you have made a different decision/ education plan?

  9. Davis Progressive

    of all the points made here is the notion of gate as segregation.  is every program segregation?  is the mainstream program segregating main stream students from special needs and special ed students?  is calculus segregating those from alegebra?  is physics segregating those from chemistry?  is ap segregating those from non-ap?  is berkeley segregating those from san francisco state?

    this is nonsense and the height of absurdity was that it was a group of all-white parents claiming segregation while people of color were arguing for the need for the gate program.

    1. wdf1

      D.P.:  …this is nonsense and the height of absurdity was that it was a group of all-white parents claiming segregation while people of color were arguing for the need for the gate program.

      The unusual thing I found in watching the comments to last Thursday’s meeting is how many advocates of self-contained GATE introduced themselves as UCD faculty members, seemingly to validate their comments about K-12 education.

      I’ve said this before, but a more important kind of segregation to examine is by parent education level, and I think that’s what the “group of all-white parents claiming segregation” was talking about.  There appears to be a high correlation of GATE-identified students with parents of higher education levels.  Other commenters have pointed out before how university communities elsewhere have high levels of GATE identification.  Most of those commenters were arguing that Davis’ high level of identification isn’t unusual for a university community, and that DJUSD therefore isn’t over-identifying.

      The perception is that self-contained GATE is mostly for kids of college-educated parents, and non-GATE classrooms are mostly for kids of parents who aren’t college-educated.  So the real question being raised, is it a problem to segregate students that way?  Does it represent a lack of access for students who aren’t born to college grads?

      This is actually a very relevant discussion in sociology circles, how Americans are increasingly self-segregating by income and education level, more so than seemingly existed in past decades.  Some books on the topic include Robert Putnam’s Our Kids, which may have a slightly liberal slant, and Charles Murray’s Coming Apart, which has a more libertarian/conservative slant.


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