(Editor’s note: this letter was submitted to the Vanguard for publication with the attached note). Heema Govindjee-Merchant during public comment said: “I am reading a letter to the editor by Debbie Nichols Poulos that corrects a major mistake in the Enterprise’s Our View. She wanted to publish in Enterprise, but Debbie Davis declined to print it, stating she had already had ample coverage of her views. Since she couldn’t have written this until after the mistakes were published this seems like a weak excuse for censorship of an Enterprise critique.”
AIM for ALL not a Select Few
by Debbie Nichols Poulos
In 1983, thirty-two years ago, when I began teaching the fourth grade class at Valley Oak in the “Special Abilities” (SA) program, it served any and all students with IQs of 130 and above. This DJUSD program was not “initially designed only for students who had significant trouble learning in a regular classroom” as the Enterprise “Our View” article mistakenly states. A DJUSD program for gifted students goes back to the 70’s when one 5/6 class was at North Davis and it NEVER targeted a specific type of gifted student.
Although the threshold for SA was 130 there were students in the program whose IQs were as high as 180 and above. Instead of being for “misfits” in the regular classroom the program offered opportunities for gifted students of all descriptions.
In addition to my professional experience I have personal experience with these programs. Both of my stepchildren were in the North Davis Program. That was their neighborhood school, so it was easy for their parents to choose it. Both Alekka and John Poulos were regular, mainstream, kids, popular with a cross-section of students. John was on the football and basketball teams.
In the 70’s and 80’s Davis was fifty percent smaller than it is today; Patwin, Montgomery, and Korematsu hadn’t been built.
In 1984 my daughter qualified for the program, along with several of her third grade girlfriends from WDE. We all chose the opportunity to put our kids in SA, even though it meant a trip across town. I know my daughter scored at the threshold. She was a regular, well-adjusted kid who in high school became a cheerleader.
These students in my family who went to the DJUSD self-contained gifted program would probably have done just fine in the regular classroom as well. But the key words here are “opportunity” and “choice.”
The current Trustees are on the verge of eliminating this opportunity and choice from 50 percent of the students now being served. Who will benefit from this action? Certainly not the AIM students who would have had the opportunity to choose the program had it not been slashed. I want to hear these Trustees tell us who benefits from their actions.