Enterprise Allegedly Refuses to Correct Record on AIM Editorial

Reading for Debbie Nichols-Poulos on Thursday night
Heema Govindjee-Merchant reading for Debbie Nichols-Poulos on Thursday night

(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.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. ryankelly

    We’ve heard from Poulos over and over and over. She may have viewed GATE as a choice, but, as it was pointed out last night, it isn’t a choice available to all students and is meant to fill a need.  Her letter is merely an opinion.

    I find it tacky for the Vanguard to appear to attack The Davis Enterprise.  Just because The Vanguard publishes everything it receives apparently. It should be made clearer that the letter being published is the opinion of others.  Sunder complaining about The Enterprise, while lauding The Vanguard, in her comments was a mistake on her part. It seemed petty and off topic.

    1. hpierce

      I agree with the Emptyprize staff… the first two paragraphs appear to be legitimate “correction” with some “creds”.  The rest is another ‘sharing’/opinion/politicking piece.

    2. Napoleon Pig IV

      The enterprise deserves the criticism no matter what position a person takes on the AIM issue. They published false information as fact and based advice to the community on lies. They refused to make a retraction or even publish a correction.

      From henceforth, that publication shall be known as “The Daily Fish Wrap.”

      1. ryankelly

        The piece that Poulos is complaining about was clearly labeled “Our View.”  It is the publisher’s opinion.

        Poulos then demands that they publish her opinion in response – saying that it is correcting the record – and Sunder picks up her water pails to include her allegations from the dais.  It is petty, off topic, and tacky.

        I would say that you’ve “published” false information as fact, and based your advice to the community as lies.  Let’s see you publish a retraction, a correction and maybe an apology for referring to our School Board as cretins.  It is not demanded, because we know it is just your opinion.

        1. Davis Progressive

          the publisher’s opinion is fine but if they are putting out wrong information and then refusing to correct it and refusing to allow letters to correct it, that’s not okay.

        2. ryankelly

          Is it really wrong?  It seems to be a matter of opinion.  The Enterprise has a well-known policy to limit repeat flyers for one subject, campaign, etc.  Poulos’ letter was her opinion and I personally don’t see it as accurately correcting a fact.  The gifted education program was originally created to fill a need, not created just to provide more choices in the District.  It is not a choice for every family, only those who are found to be eligible.  The choice is that these families can choose  to or not to place their children in the program.  If not eligible, they cannot choose either way.

        3. Davis Progressive

          it seems like it’s factually incorrect.  the claim was made that the program was originally intended for those who had difficulty in the mainstream classroom.  the vanguard going back 20 years found that there was a provision to allow for high achieving students and now ms. nichols-poulos cites evidence going back 30 years+.  given that the claim that the program has morphed and these provisions will restore it, that doesn’t seem like a small matter and the enterprise should have researched it better

        4. Napoleon Pig IV

          Sorry ryankelly – nice try at critical thinking, but you’re not quite there yet. I suppose you have your reasons to try to defend bad journalistic practices, but you are not succeeding very well. Let’s just say I’m glad the Vanguard exists.

        5. Michelle Millet

          given that the claim that the program has morphed and these provisions will restore it, that doesn’t seem like a small matter and the enterprise should have researched it better

          It actually seems a little small given the larger picture, and the fact that we are going back 20-30 years. I’m not opposed to criticizing the Enterprise for printing false information but I’m not sure this is the battle I would pick.

    3. ryankelly

      Thank you to the Vanguard for correcting how the piece was introduced and published.  It is much clearer now that this is a “letter to the editor” and not a Vanguard article.

    4. DavisAnon

      The Enterprise should print a retraction of their false assertions. When the public reads a piece like that published on behalf of the Enterprise, they will be assuming the Enterprise has researched the facts to back it up. In this case, they didn’t and they should do the right thing and admit it. They don’t have to print Ms. N-P’s entire letter but just the beginning or explain the reason for retraction and attribute the fact checking to her. As the Enterprise apparently refused to do so, we never would have known had Sunder not brought this up publicly, so I’m glad she did given that we have only one print newspaper in town.

      Kudos to the Vanguard for addressing this issue as I highly doubt we’ll see it addressed in today’s Enterprise.

    5. concernedparent

      In the first paragraph of Debbie’s letter she pointed out the Enterprise mistake.  In the next four paragraphs she provided evidence supporting the fact that the program was not designed for students who had trouble in regular classrooms.  Her concluding paragraph emphasized that shrinking the AIM program will limit opportunity and choice for students who otherwise could have benefited from this option.  The fact that it is not a choice for everyone doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a choice for some.  The district has many special programs such as the madrigals, jazz choir, sports teams, and others that provide opportunities and choice for students who possess the special talents and skills to qualify.  Not anyone can get into these programs, but the fact that the district offers them provides a unique opportunity for those who can.  Why should the AIM program, one among many of the district’s special programs, be singled out to be cut in size?”

    1. Napoleon Pig IV

      I don’t fault them for their policy limiting the number of op-eds from one person, but I fault and revile them for being unwilling to correct factual errors or outright lies.

        1. wdf1

          You can spend your time complaining about it here and seething inside, or you can use that time to write out your correction to the Enterprise and feel like you actually accomplished something.  This is the place to go.

      1. VoiceOfReasonInDavis

        DavisProgressive is right.  The Enterprise was told it had the facts wrong.  The Enterprise still has not issued a correction.  wdf1 says we should not be ‘complaining or seething inside’ here but wouldn’t a more sensible approach be–i’m really unhappy that the Enterprise is getting facts wrong? I may not agree with you about the policy, but I think that we should all get the facts right, especially a newspaper.

        1. wdf1

          VOR:  wdf1 says we should not be ‘complaining or seething inside’

          Please read carefully.  I’m saying you have alternatives.  Complain and seethe if you want. But did you submit a letter to the editor to correct what errors you found?  If you and the dozen other folks who feel aggrieved by the lack of correction by the Davis Enterprise were to submit a letter to the editor, I think it would get noticed more by their editorial board than by only venting about it here. And a broader reading public would get the point.

      1. Michelle Millet

        Point of clarification, do we know that the are refusing to correct any false information that they published. This is different then turning away a letter. I have expressed concerns to the editorial staff about misinformation before, and they have always either corrected the mistake themselves, or printed a correction letter that I wrote. I’d be surprised if they acted differently in this instance.

  2. Michelle Millet

    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 problem I have with this argument being used to defend a larger AIM program is that only a select group of students in our district are being given the “opportunity” and “choice” to enter the program. For this particular argument to have legs then all students should have equal access to the program it is defending.

    1. VoiceOfReasonInDavis

      AIM is hardly the only program in town with qualification criteria. Many programs are not available to particular students because of many reasons. But we still see them as important choices for those for whom they are available.

  3. ryankelly

    Debbie Nichols Poulos is one big whiner.  Whether this is choice or need doesn’t matter one iota, really.  In fact, if it is purely an issue of choice, then all students should be given the opportunity to choose and not just a select few.  If it is purely a matter of choice, then she can’t also say that this is a program that these select portion of our students need.  She doesn’t see the insignificance of her argument.   She is meddling and doing a huge disservice to our community.  She is creating conflict where there is none.  There is enough conflict on this issue already.   That is my opinion.

    1. Matt Williams
      On ryankelly said … “the Vanguard is the anti-change information site.   It shouts down alternate views.  It doesn’t search for alternate views.  It promotes discontent and angst.”
      ryan, in reading your 9:55am comment above about Debbie Nichols Poulos, it appears that you are shouting down her alternative view, as well as being an anti-change agent yourself.  Is that a fair assessment?
      1. ryankelly

        You’ve lost my support for your City Council run with this comment, Matt.

        But let me clarify – I am criticizing her introduction to her letter.    She says that her letter only corrects misinformation that The Enterprise has stated in their “My View” Editorial.  She accuses them of censorship.  I think that her accusation of censorship is unfounded.  The Enterprise has a well known limit on the frequency of letters from individuals on one topic.  They declined to publish her 2nd letter in a week or so on GATE education. She tries to get her letter published anyway, saying that it is only correcting misinformation.  She is creating conflict where there is none.  It is a disservice to the community who is already dealing with divisiveness over this issue.

        1. Matt Williams

          ryan, I think it is important to acknowledge that the beauty and strength of the American Democracy is that each voter can vote for whomever he/she wants to.  I respect your right to either vote for me or vote against me.  I just hope you will vote.

          With that said, I’m not sure what my observation about your two comments about the Vanguard (of which you are an active part) and DJUSD have to do with City Council.

          Now with regard to the issue at hand, the words, “Debbie Nichols Poulos is one big whiner” say nothing at all about her introduction to her letter.  If you had started your comment with the statement, “I think that her accusation of censorship is unfounded” or “I disagree with Ms. Poulos’ version of history” then you would have been criticizing her arguments.  Calling her a whiner didn’t engage the substance of her arguments, it simply appeared to be shouting her down.


        2. lotaspark

          It’s okay Matt, you may have  lost Ryan’s vote, but your professional and thoughtful comments have earned mine. You called a spade a spade. It continues to amaze and disappoint me how much anger Ryan spews on a daily basis towards people in the community. Look in the mirror for a moment before you start calling people “whiners” or creating conflict!

    2. Napoleon Pig IV

      Wrong again, ryankelly. She is simply shedding light on a baseless attack on a good and successful program – with a background of experience and expertise directly relevant to the situation.

      1. Napoleon Pig IV

        Of course opinions can be wrong. “Wrong” is a broad but good word.

        Of course, there are other words that might better convey the subtleties of various types of wrongness: wrong-headed, uninformed, or invalid. I left out the impolite descriptions. Then, there are descriptive phrases, too numerous to adequately treat in this short note but that include: “based on false information,” “based on incomplete data,” “developed out of ignorance,” and “fabricated to promote an agenda.”

        Need I continue?

        1. ryankelly

          The Board has voted and approved the changes on 5-0 votes.  I don’t think that the Board based their vote on any one opinion piece in The Davis Enterprise or Vanguard and I do trust all the Board members’ ability to evaluate the validity the opinions of others.  Poulos is making a mountain out of a molehill.



  4. davismom

     She is simply shedding light on a baseless attack on a good and successful program – with a background of experience and expertise directly relevant to the situation.

    I’ve been involved in enough classrooms, PTA meetings, and a DJUSD Action Plan team that included leaders on both sides of the AIM debate (all of whom have AIM identified children), to tell you that this is not a “baseless attack”.  I can tell you that the push for differentiation and higher AIM threshold is being initiated by parents of AIM identified children who are not happy with their current options for AIM.  They are parents who would like their children’s needs met but will still allow their children to interact with non-AIM identified children in a classroom setting. A lot of these parents keep their kids out of AIM in elementary and then move their kids over to AIM in the Junior High setting because that model allows kids to still interact with other non-AIM kids in three to four non-core classes throughout the day. If you watched the meeting last night I would say public comment was pretty evenly divided between AIM at 96% vs 98%.  Again, not a baseless attack, just perhaps a movement of people who do not tend to frequent the Vanguard.

    1. Napoleon Pig IV


      To clarify, I consider the newspaper attack on the AIM program to be baseless due in large measure to it’s being supported by false information. I do not consider the concerns of parents to be baseless, and I agree they should be addressed by the district. However, given their public statements to date, I do not trust the honesty and good will of a majority of the school board in how they are going about it.

  5. DavisAnon

    That’s your response to Matt, ryankelly?! He merely reminds of your prior statement and you don’t like it so you won’t vote for him? I know nothing about Matt or his campaign but your response speaks volumes. Talk about creating conflict where there is none or being a whiner as you accuse others. I see you take shots at others pretty frequently but then complain that others are shutting you down. I’d normally remain quiet, but I think that response was unfair to Matt unless it was humor or sarcasm, in which case I apologize. You can’t have it both ways. Let’s just enjoy a healthy debate.

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