Monday Morning Thoughts II: Is Race or Diversity a Red Herring?

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achievement-gapThe school district, in a way, has a conundrum. On the one hand, as they finally made clear to the community, they expected that the changes enacted in November would reduce the size of the AIM program. However, having committed to reducing the achievement gap, the reduction in the number of black and Latino students was troubling.

As we noted in yesterday’s column, the board members themselves were divided on the issue in terms of how to approach it.

Madhavi Sunder, the board president, asked her colleagues, “Are the racial demographics acceptable?”

Barbara Archer would explain that she was not prepared to argue that the numbers of blacks and Latinos were unacceptable until the district has finalized numbers.

She did argue that we have a lot of work to do across the board, arguing that this is “a global issue” across the district, that of achievement for disadvantaged students. She argued that she knew the size of the AIM program would shrink but argued that AIM needs to be “needs based, not demands based.”

Alan Fernandes directly stated that he “doesn’t find the demographics acceptable,” but he did hear that the district is looking into ways to change it. He said he is not married to this approach and would be willing to support a change down the road.

Susan Lovenburg expressed concerns “that the protocol put in place hasn’t matched the diversity of the district as she hoped that it would.”

Some have argued that the lack of Latino and black identification is simply a continued manifestation of the achievement gap. But they run into a problem on that front – the argument by many is that AIM is not supposed to be a program for high achieving kids, but rather a program for gifted kids.

Gifted kids should exist independent of any achievement gap. Gifted kids should be able to be identified in some way that separates their gifted potential from their ability to show it on a standardized test.

As Madhavi Sunder put it, “Do we think that the tests are accurate? Are we using the wrong tests if they’re not identifying the true potential in every one of our communities?” She said, “That to me makes me question the tests – because I know there is intellectual gifted-potential in every one of our communities. If our tests aren’t getting us there then I think it undermines my confidence in the tests.”

Ms. Sunder would point out, “This is very much about achievement gap, because the achievement gap is not only about kids who are below grade level. The achievement gap is about identifying the needs of all under-privileged students and meeting their needs directly.”

She added, “So if we’re not identifying the needs of high potential kids from poor backgrounds, from Latino backgrounds and from Black backgrounds, we are not addressing the achievement gap there.” Ms. Sunder continued, “For me the achievement gap is about kids at all levels being properly identified and being properly served.”

One thing that was clear on Thursday – those who support changes to the program want the program smaller and they are not willing to compromise on the size of the program in order to make sure it serves a representative population.

For some, they will see the push for diversity in the program as “a red herring,” and by this I deem it to mean diversity as a proxy for size. But, by the same token, a surprising number of people seem to be willing to shrug off diversity concerns in order to shrink the size of program.

My biggest concern is that, to date, we have only paid lip service to the idea of reducing the achievement gap. Had we shown a greater commitment to attacking its foundations, it may be more understandable to discount the lack of diversity of AIM. But given the lack of commitment on the achievement gap front, it seems foolish to accept the district at their word that the issue of the underrepresentation of blacks and Hispanics will be dealt with in any meaningful way with any sense of urgency.

Here are a few video clips. The first shows Jann Murray-Garcia making her public comment and the second is an exchange between Board President Madhavi Sunder and Superintendent Winfred Roberson.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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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48 thoughts on “Monday Morning Thoughts II: Is Race or Diversity a Red Herring?”

  1. Frankly

    Unless you are a homogamy denier or are just ignorant of the effect, you would have more trouble with the label “gifted” especially in a city like Davis.   Traditionally the term “gifted” was the label for that statistical anomaly of children born with significantly advanced cerebral processing capabilities.   Just like that kid that grows big, strong, fast with advanced athletic ability having access to scale-able athletic programs, GATE was the idea to provide cognitively-advanced kids scale-able academic programs.

    What we have today is more a strong academic gene pool that derives academic capability privilege.

    Using the athletics analogy, it would be like Davis having a demographic high percentage of big, strong, fast kids with high athletic capabilities from generations of parents having the same traits… and these parents wanting to carve out a special high-achieving sports program for their kids because the regular sports program does not meet their parental demands, nor their kid’s needs.

    However, it is less likely that people marry another with similar athletic traits than it is that people marry another having achieved comparable education levels and owning similar cognitive capabilities.

    A related important consideration is our nation’s transformation from industry to an information economy.   Today, by carving out higher education opportunities for the academically-privileged we in fact perpetuation and expand the main social problem that derives from the outcome of education: gaps in income and wealth.

    Clearly the education system is failing to meet the needs of all students.  A model of segregating students by academic capability would be more acceptable if the system was meeting the needs of students at all levels of academic capability.  But the sad truth is that the education system is significantly failing in this regard.

    Yes we should polish our diamonds, but not unless we are working harder to turn our less polished gems into other finished precious stones.

    The ONLY model that makes sense in consideration of these things is differentiation.  But also differentiation that is based on an education system mission to develop students toward their next step toward being economically self-sufficient.

    It is fascinating to me how the elite political left has seized the political narrative blaming big bad business and CEOs as being responsible for the growing gap in upper and lower economic class.  The truth is that the elite political left has created an advantage factory in the education system.  And program like GATE are being exploited to advance even that already unfair advantage.

    Like it or not, life is a competition for limited resources.  Despite what many ignorant young people hope, and some elites on the political left claim, there is no workable utopian design for fair allocation of resources that does not lead to much greater human misery and suffering.   Given this need to compete for scarce resources, the public education system should never be allowed to give advantage to one group of kids over another.  Differentiation is the ONLY model we should accept.

    1. The Pugilist

      The question is why is a conservative troubled by the notion of “gifted”?

      “Using the athletics analogy, it would be like Davis having a demographic high percentage of big, strong, fast kids with high athletic capabilities from generations of parents having the same traits… and these parents wanting to carve out a special high-achieving sports program for their kids because the regular sports program does not meet their parental demands, nor their kid’s needs.”

      You mean like the varsity football team?

        1. Frankly

          They only “flaw” you are showing is your inability to make a logical argument.

          First, team sports are not the thing that will launch a student to eventual economic success (except for a tiny, tiny minority of the top performers).

          Second, athletics are after school and separate from academics.  They are optional, not required.

          Third, there is differentiation in athletics.  There are many different sports, roles, positions that can appeal to the capabilities and interests of many different kids.

          1. Don Shor

            None of this is a cogent argument for failing to provide students with the best placements for their learning abilities. GATE is one such placement.

    2. wdf1

      Frankly:  What we have today is more a strong academic gene pool that derives academic capability privilege.

      In yesterday’s blog article on this issue, commenter zaqzaq suggested, like you, that “giftedness” is probably genetic.  Does that mean that you would think it’s pointless to try to close the achievement gap?  because the achievement gap is genetically pre-determined, according to this line of thinking?

      My followup to zaqzaq’s comment was this, which I also address to you, Frankly:

      Both Trustee Sunder and Dr. Murray-Garcia have publicly expressed affinity for the thinking of Stanford Psychologist, Carol Dweck, on the concept “growth mindset,” which suggests that brain development is malleable and responsive to environmental stimuli, as opposed to a fixed mindset, which suggests that individuals’ mental faculties are hardwired ahead of time.  What are your thoughts?

      1. South of Davis

        wdf1 wrote:

        > Does that mean that you would think it’s pointless to

        > try to close the achievement gap?

        As someone who has personally spent a lot of time “trying to close the achievement gap” I think that is a great idea to try and make “all” students smarter.  I don’t think that it is a great idea to put unqualified kids in an AIM program to make the school board happy just like I don’t think it is a good idea to put an unqualified girl on the varsity volleyball team to make the school board happy.

      2. Frankly

        wdf1 – see below for an answer to your challenge.

        I agree that the brain is malleable, but there are traits for academic strengths… for example, better memory, better cognitive processing.

        And just consider this point about the malleable brain and early childhood development in highly-educated, high-cognitive functioning family.

        In either case the point about educational and cognitive homogamy would be valid.

        Certainly there are exceptions.  But that is the statistical anomaly that GATE used to apply to.  Like that rare case where some child of a family lacking the privilege of family academic and cognitive strength is born with a high-functioning brain.

        The bigger problem with all of this is that higher academic growth and achievement today more directly correlates with higher earnings.  40 years ago those brainy PHDs would work for a university and earn a similar middle-class wage as would the high school or community college graduate that working up some corporate ladder while the brainy kid was still in school getting his degrees.  Those two paths have grown fantastically wide today… with those with higher academic achievement earning significantly more.

        I support self-contained curriculum for kids with diagnosed learning disabilities when it has been proved that those kids cannot do well in the general population of students… not just that they cannot do well with the standard curriculum and teaching method.

        Said another way, I support self-contained solutions for all those cases where real differentiation cannot meet the needs of a student.  But I absolutely do not support carve-outs that perpetuate and grow our large class divide.

    3. wdf1

      Frankly:  Using the athletics analogy, it would be like Davis having a demographic high percentage of big, strong, fast kids with high athletic capabilities from generations of parents having the same traits… and these parents wanting to carve out a special high-achieving sports program for their kids because the regular sports program does not meet their parental demands, nor their kid’s needs.

      You could could also use music as an analogy, since you have said that you are a musician.  There are audition performance music groups in high school, and the analogy  has been made, “why should talented musicians be denied the challenge of an audition music group (Madrigals, Jazz Band, etc.)?”

      On the one hand you’re say, it’s all about the gene pool (point I responded to here).  But when I think of a music audition, I think of a student putting time into practicing for the audition.  Some students can prepare for an audition in half the time as others.  Some students maybe incredibly talented, musically, but don’t prepare for their audition and therefore don’t succeed.  The same would apply to trying out for a football or basketball team.  Are we rewarding genetics or the virtue of personal desire and discipline?

       

      1. Frankly

        I am/was probably more an athlete than musician.   I like to think I am the prince of many things and the king of nothing.

        But the basic answer to this challenge is that academic and cognitive advancement are more likely to be the basis for assortive marriage, and they are also more likely to directly translate to economic success.

        Pitty the child that has strong art, music or athletic capability… as these things will more likely ultimately hinder, rather than help, achieving economic success.   In fact, in consideration of this no two artists, musicians or athletes should marry each other unless they are comfortable living a low economic-achievement life.

        1. wdf1

          Frankly:  Pitty the child that has strong art, music or athletic capability… as these things will more likely ultimately hinder, rather than help, achieving economic success.   In fact, in consideration of this no two artists, musicians or athletes should marry each other unless they are comfortable living a low economic-achievement life.

          I think you have a very narrow and uncreative view for what career opportunities come from a background in art, music, or athletics.  Someone following a career connected to art, music, or athletics isn’t necessarily a failure if they’re not the next Picasso, Clapton, or Manning.

          In art there are various design fields, including web page and product design that benefit from artistic skills.  Do you think your friend, the co-owner of Watermelon Music who was in your band years ago, has wasted his musical talents?  Do you believe that your musical pursuits were a waste of time?  With music one can give lessons or gig on the side. Related to music performance is event planning, which in ways is a performance.  How do you put the event together?  Find resources for your event — venue, sound system, maybe video screen system, food.  Publicize your event.  Keep it interesting and enjoyable?  Athletics — run a gym or studio, coach school, college or professional level sports, go into sports medicine or kinesiology, run a sporting goods store like Fleet Feet or B&L Bikes.

          There are various collateral skills and outcomes that come from participating in art, music or athletics that are assets in various careers that may have very little to do with those fields — learn to delay gratification, work with others, develop team commitment, creativity and aesthetic sensibilities, present ideas or work to an audience.

          Although there are conventional ways of establishing a career field (business people get a business degree, attorneys get a law degree, medical doctors get a medical degree), I find that the more interesting and possibly more compelling career candidates are those who build a narrative and portfolio that’s a little different from the conventional.  Art, music, athletics, and many other seemingly worthless activities, from the perspective of immediate material return, are ways to build that unique narrative and portfolio. Or perhaps build a hybrid career — music or art therapy in medicine, or physical therapy, entertainment law, copyright law, law connected to sports. Or a music or art promoter, or business manager of a sports team, etc.

          Finally, you and I clearly disagree about what value to place on education.  You would prefer to look very narrowly at economic/monetary return.  I go with having more options for meaning and purpose in one’s life.  Meaning and purpose can include aspiring to a great salary, but it can also mean being a better parent, a more engaged citizen (something you cringe at as being bullsh*t, even as you act the part), a better leader, a better person.

        2. Frankly

          Economic self-sufficiency means being able to earn enough money to live comfortably and happily within those means.   This can be different income levels for different people, but there is a base level of income we all need to be economically self-sufficient.

          And you seem to gloss over the nuance of my points being made.

          My son is a musician in his last semester earning a degree in electronic music production.  He already has a job lined up with a music producer.

          My friend at Watermelon Music has a UCD degree in graphic arts if I remember correctly.  He does the website work for the store and also does some freelance work in that field.  He is also a store owner and manager and still plays music, but certainly does not make enough money to live on playing music.

          Some can make a living from their art.  Most cannot.

          Humanities are fine, performing arts are good, athletics are great… but everything should focus on launching the student toward success at the next step toward economic self-sufficiency.  Because without economic self-sufficiency the other stuff becomes meaningless to a person… and possibly a burden.

          The “good citizen” curriculum is a bunch of crap unless it is designed to help a student succeed at that next step to a life of economic self sufficiency.   It can and should be offered and even be requirements to a good education, but only subordinate to that ultimate goal.

          I think this is the key for how the education system fixes the achievement gap.

          1. Don Shor

            The things that probably made the most direct impact on my daughter’s current career trajectory were that she took Japanese in high school, and was on the debate team. Let me know how those fit into your theories.

        3. wdf1

          Frankly:  The “good citizen” curriculum is a bunch of crap unless it is designed to help a student succeed at that next step to a life of economic self sufficiency. 

          Spoken like a true, self-absorbed baby boomer.  Is that what you say to folks serving in the military?

          Economic self sufficiency:  You set a low bar.  It is possible to flip hamburgers and be economically self sufficient.  But for most it probably doesn’t hold a lot of long-term meaning.  That’s why folks go to college if they can.

          My friend at Watermelon Music…

          Looks like he enjoys talking about music and instruments with customers when I see him there. Looks like it gives him interesting and enjoyable opportunities to make connections and play music, at least when I see him perform.

        4. Frankly

          I find it interesting that the two of you, wdf1 and Don, use examples of people you know that are academically privileged to make your case that we can piss away the precious hours of public school on sensitivity classes.  Let’s take it to the poor, minorities and also the urban inner city schools.  Then get back to me for how THAT is working.

          Oh wait.  We already know it isn’t working.

          Yet you keep advocating for the same.

          Yes, because it benefits you and yours and not those that really need the help.

          That is the entire point here.  The baseline should be set based on student needs, not parent demands.  The needs of millions of kids below the line are not being met.  So what are you advocating?  More of the same.

          Doing the same things expecting different results is… or maybe you really don’t want different results because it is working so well for you and yours.

          Japanese?  Give me a break Don.  Just the fact that she took the classes and passed them while actually learning how to be conversant in Japanese puts her at the top academic ranks.

          1. Don Shor

            I don’t happen to have a course schedule handy. What are these “sensitivity classes” that you keep referring to? My kids never took anything with that name. Not sure which grade it’s offered in.

            The baseline should be set based on student needs, not parent demands.

            Determined by whom?
            Taking a foreign language doesn’t put you “at the top academic ranks.” And, of course, you completely missed my point.

        5. wdf1

          The “good citizen” curriculum is a bunch of crap unless it is designed to help a student succeed at that next step to a life of economic self sufficiency.

          Good citizenship: Developing an interest in how government and communities work, as well as the issues involved.  Engaging in community issues by voting, communicating with elected officials and government officials and other community members about interests or concerns.  Learning to appreciate the value of serving the community through career choices and volunteerism.  Developing a sense of gratitude for the opportunities afforded in our society.   Seeking ways to make it better.  etc.

          All ways of finding meaning, connection, and identity.

        6. wdf1

          Frankly:  The baseline should be set based on student needs, not parent demands.

          And you know what those needs are, but the parents of those students probably don’t?

        7. wdf1

          Frankly:  …to make your case that we can piss away the precious hours of public school on sensitivity classes.

          Sensitivity classes?  I thought we were talking about art, music, and athletics.

        8. Frankly

          Good citizenship: Developing an interest in how government and communities work, as well as the issues involved.  Engaging in community issues by voting, communicating with elected officials and government officials and other community members about interests or concerns.  Learning to appreciate the value of serving the community through career choices and volunteerism.  Developing a sense of gratitude for the opportunities afforded in our society.   Seeking ways to make it better.  etc.

          All ways of finding meaning, connection, and identity.

          wdf1, this is all academic elite chatter.  I’m sure you understand that there are needs hierarchies.   I’m sure you get that the kids privileged in their biological, genetic and early childhood development assets provided by their well-educated and engaged parents are gonna be fine being forced to absorb all of this feely-good curriculum.   And yes, some of them are going to get some good things from it and use some of it in their future work and careers.

          But when the kid comes from a poor household without college-educated parents… or those situations where the parents are working full-time and not capable of helicoptering over their little darlings to make sure they are drilled and molded into academic stars… this stuff is just a waste of the precious time we have to make sure they launch correctly to the next step in their ultimate need to be economically self sufficient.

          I would argue that THIS is the ULTIMATE NEED that public education should be serving… the preparation for the next step toward that ultimate goal of making a living.  Not “Learning to appreciate the value of serving the community through career choices and volunteerism.”   That is like trying to stuff all the cream filling without first creating all the cupcakes because there are some privileged ready-made cupcakes.

          I’m not suggesting we cut these things out.  I am suggesting we de-emphasise them as a primary requirement and instead make them subordinate to the primary goal.

          Frankly, (because I am) I see much of this stuff you are advocating as just worldview indoctrination that should and would otherwise derive individually from living a normal economically self-sufficient life.

          I’m curious… how would you solve the academic achievement gaps?

        9. wdf1

          Frankly:  this is all academic elite chatter.

          That’s actually what I’ve been thinking about a lot of your material.

          how would you solve the academic achievement gaps?

          In Davis?

          The achievement gap is defined by test scores in English and math.  The school district cares very much about raising those scores, and will put all kinds of resources into raising those scores.  In doing so, those kids realize that they are behind and become defined by those scores and ultimately tracked and segregated.  The district doesn’t care as much about providing access to the fuller range of other programs in the district — athletics, performing arts, student government, robotics, journalism/ newspaper, yearbook, and many others.  There is under-representation of achievement gap students in those programs, but capacity to include them.

          The district has also recorded the same achievement gap populations as being more highly represented in statistics on discipline actions (suspensions & expulsions), lower rates of positive response on climate surveys, more vulnerable to dropping out of high school.  I interpret that to mean social disaffection and lack of connection.

          District interventions in these issues usually involve an adult to student contact (counselor, vice principal, adult intervention specialist) as a hope that things will get better.  Among adolescents, I think this overlooks the need for peer connection.  That peer connection would be strengthened by making those activities I listed more accessible.

          A large percentage (admittedly not all) of achievement gap students have the basic fundamental needs (clothing, food, shelter, safety) found at the base of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  But they often don’t attain the next higher level needs of social connection and belonging, because they’re isolated and segregated by their achievement gap status.

          It’s a matter of taking more time and extra effort to explain, for instance, to Spanish speaking parents in earlier grades what their options are in later grades, for academic counselling, trying to bring more balance into the school lives of kids, and suggest these different options.  Provide different pathways to these activities at different levels.

          I think this would go far to help in many cases.  It isn’t a focus on subject intervention in English & math (that will no doubt continue), but on improving social connection so that they will become more engaged in a broader number of pathways in post HS graduation.

  2. Biddlin

    Funny, I always thought homogamy referred to inbreeding, a problem Davis may well be afflicted with, if certain posts and their creators are to be taken at face value.

    1. Frankly

      I should have clarified…

      Yes, homogamy can refer interbreeding of individuals with like characteristics.

      Educational homogamy occurs when individuals with similar educations have children. Cognitive homogamy occurs when individuals with similar cognitive ability have children.

      I am talking about the latter two.

      It has also been called Assortive Marriage or Assortive Mating

       

  3. DavisAnon

    Frankly, I’m confused by what you’re saying. Are you suggesting that some children have an inborn advantage and that the only “fair” solution is to prevent them from exercising it by keeping them within a single age-grouped program? That somehow by meeting their different needs we are “advantaging” an already advantaged group? So why don’t we do that for other activities such as sports? Isn’t it therefore unfair to limit certain sports teams and programs to those who were born with a genetic advantage? I could perhaps understand if the AIM program had taken resources from other programs (as our specialized sports, music and other special interest programs do), but it was of minimal cast = less costly than most of the programs we already offer across the board in our district and certainly less expensive than what the district has now put in place. How are programs devoted to sports or the arts taking the “next step toward being economically self-sufficient” as you put it? Should we eliminate all special programs in the district to ensure that everyone has the same access? What about AP classes? Grade levels? Ability grouping?

    What has the neighborhood classroom and its students gained out of this? Nothing. How does this help even one child learn? It doesn’t. Teachers will now have an even wider range of needs in their classes to attempt to meet with no resources or decreased class size to help them do so. This move has simply degraded the teachers’ abilities to meet the educational needs of all of their students. The majority of the Board stated they had no interest in defining how the needs of these kids would be met, nor do they have any interest in follow-up to see what the positive or negative effects of this change would be. It is appalling that they feel no accountability to students or taxpayers.

    The district’s differentiation program is nothing but hot air. Gregson was asked in the Board meeting about the differentiation training recently offered. When pressed, she stated over 20 teachers (out of the hundreds of teachers in our district) attended. I have since heard from someone there the number was closer to 10, and that the trainings thus far have been virtually useless. The teachers are not required to go to these trainings, nor are they required to differentiate in their classrooms. We don’t even know that what is being taught in the trainings would benefit students, do we? There is no follow-up. No one in our district has shown one bit of evidence that we have improved education in even one neighborhood classroom through differentiation. The district clearly committed to differentiation in math at the 4-6th grade levels two years ago and nothing has come of it. Administration doesn’t even know if anything changed in the classroom since that mandate. Even more importantly they have no idea whether any changes that may have occurred improved or worsened learning outcomes for the students affected.

    Thursday’s Board meeting was an embarrassment. I have been an ardent supporter of Davis schools and the fundraising to give our schools extra dollars, but I find myself wondering why I am urging others to give their money to a school Board that is so wasteful of the dollars they already have and, more importantly, wasteful of the young lives of our community’s children. I cherish our community’s children and I want each of them to be excited about school. Learning is one of the great joys in life. We owe it to every single child to ensure that each day they will get the best opportunity we can give them to learn. They are captives in the classroom. They have no choice but to be there every single day, and they deserve to have that be as fulfilling as possible. They should have access to learning resources that help them engage in expanding their knowledge – and that includes art, sports, music, etc. I’m ok with spending extra resources for populations at risk or greater need such as special education, but it’s not ok to dismantle a cost-effective, valuable program in some misguided quest for equity to make up for a perceived advantage at birth. To try to slow the forward progress of some students in hopes that the achievement gap shrinks is utterly irresponsible.

    I see Davis parents becoming increasingly demoralized and disengaged from DJUSD, Based on Thursday’s meeting, it appears only an election that removes the Board majority can change that.

  4. The Pugilist

    “I see Davis parents becoming increasingly demoralized and disengaged from DJUSD, Based on Thursday’s meeting, it appears only an election that removes the Board majority can change that.”

    I understand why parents would be demoralized and disengaged, but it’s the wrong approach.  Madhavi Sunder went from nowhere to the runaway winner in a short period of time.

    That said, I think there is another point that is missed – how precariously perched the parcel tax is.  Mention it and you get tremendous pushback by people like Barbara Archer who argue you are hurting your own child by attacking the parcel tax.  But in most elections, the parcel tax has only been approved by a small margin and even a five-percent shift in the electorate would cause it to lose.

    It’s a game of leverage.  Archer is better you won’t pull the nuclear option, but it’s the only leverage you have.

  5. ryankelly

    I believe that the absolute requirement or even the expectation of racial diversity in exact proportion of the District student body in GATE identification is indeed a red herring.   I believe that the District has bent over backwards in testing, and retesting students to find all of the students that should be placed in a self-contained classroom for gifted students.

    What needs to change is the idea that not being placed in a self-contained GATE class at 4th grade equals a loss of opportunity or given a distinct disadvantage in life – that these non-self contained GATE students will never hope to achieve intellectual fulfillment.

    * That GATE education’s purpose is Intellectual Fulfillment is an idea I heard for the first time at the last School Board meeting, introduced first by one of the student speakers and then repeated by her parent.

    1. zaqzaq

      Until the district demonstrates that differentiation works in the regular classrooms not having your child placed in AIM in 4th grade is a distinct loss of opportunity for those students.  They are dumbing down the instruction for those students.  That is a simple reality.  In a few years fewer students will be going into honors or AP English and the advanced math track due to fewer AIM classes.

      The board is losing the trust of a significant segment of the parents in this district through their actions.  Archer lied about her true intentions when she ran for office as did Adams.  This is why I will be voting no on any parcel tax in the district.

      1. wdf1

        zaqzaq: This is why I will be voting no on any parcel tax in the district.

        If your point of view prevails, that will probably have the long term effect of further reducing the number of students identified and participating in AIM.

        1. ryankelly

          Maybe a few parents of the current parents bent on retaliation, but future generations of parents will not have the same desire for revenge and retaliation.

        2. zaqzaq

          Future generations of parents will applaud efforts to maintain a strong AIM program and will not be deceived by delusions of differentiation.   A parcel tax rejection should cause the board to rethink the error of their ways regarding this program and the deceit by Archer and Adams used to win the election.  As a member of the voting public I get to vote on Archer and Adams a second time by voting against the parcel tax.  It is more a referendum on their mismanagement than retaliation.  Why would I trust them with the management of my tax dollars when they lied about their true intentions on one school program.  What other hidden agendas do they have?  When politicians lie to get elected they lose the trust of the voting public.  On a national scale this explains the Sanders and Trump phenomena and more political polarization.

          DJUSD is also losing the trust.  Two years ago the board directed them to implement differentiated instruction in grades 4-6 so high achievers would receive the same math instruction as students in the AIM program.  DJUSD either failed in their attempt or decided not to follow that directive.  Clark Bryant gave some lame excuse when asked about it last Fall.

           

        3. wdf1

          zaqzaq:  As a member of the voting public I get to vote on Archer and Adams a second time by voting against the parcel tax.

          If you get your way and see the school parcel tax fail, then if you have kids in the schools, then it’s definitely a situation of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

          There is a school board election on the same ballot.  Susan Lovenburg’s and Alan Fernandes’ seats are up for vote.  IMO, the better strategy is to work for candidates who support your view on the board.  If you think trustee Sunder is your preferred trustee on the board, then if you get two candidates who support your views, you get to have a possible 3-2 majority for your positions on the board.  But you are entitled to your own opinion, of course.

        4. Barack Palin

          LOL, that’s what we were told last election.  Don’t vote against the school parcel tax, instead vote for new board members.  Well here we are again hearing the same advice and people still aren’t happy.

           

        5. wdf1

          BP:  Well here we are again hearing the same advice and people still aren’t happy.

          You will never find a period of time when everyone is happy and content.  If that were the case, then there would be no need for democracy.

        6. Barack Palin

          DPugilist, unfortunately I think that’s what it’s going to take to finally get them to take notice.  The same for our city politics, as long as we keep voting for tax measures our elected officials will keep up the same policies as witnessed by the last round of sales tax giveaways to employees.

  6. MrsW

    I have a number of reactions–

    1. I trip on the word “diversity” every time I read it.  Does diversity only apply to racial diversity? and then only blacks and Hispanics? There are at least 48 countries in Asia and a large number of them are represented in DJUSD, including students who look white but are Asian (Kazakhstan).  White is a pretty broad brush, too. What about economic diversity? religious diversity?  temperament?  One reason I liked AIM/GATE was the more concentrated diversity of ethnicities in the classroom.

    2. From previous reports on this blog, we learned the inconvenient truth that the OLSAT is the only test that predicts success with the gifted curriculum with any reliability.  Why isn’t anyone asking–are we setting children up for failure, when we use any other test or measures to be eligible for the program? Has DJUSD modified the curriculum to accommodate the students who qualify by a means other than the OLSAT?

    3.  I don’t think I’m alone in this–As a parent in a different field, I defer to DJUSD’s expertise on the education of my child.  We chose the GATE program in large part because our kids qualified.  The information that I would have needed to truly make an informed decision about whether or not my child would succeed in GATE was simply not available.

    4. Seems like every Board meeting where they discuss AIM, DJUSD should also be demonstrating their progress with differentiating the math curriculum in the elementary grades. It would provide some balance and reassurance.

    5. Does AIM need to be fixed before DJUSD can tackle the achievement gap?

    1. zaqzaq

      DJUSD’s failure to demonstrate success in with differentiating the math curriculum in grades 4-6 shows that they have yet to devise a model for differentiated instruction that works.  All they are doing is playing lip service to the concept.  One can only assume that they know it will not work with the large classroom size.  If they wanted it to work it would have been in the teacher contract.

  7. Southie

    If Davis solves the Achievement Gap, it will be a miracle.  The AG has existed for generations.  The greatest educational minds in our country have tried to pinpoint its causes, but can only list its effects.  Neither this Board nor DJUSD administration has the skills, intellect, or resources to solve a problem of this magnitude.   That being said, though we can’t solve it outright I think we could put a dent in the AG if the board could get its act together.  Board members continue the annoying habit of asking the Superintendent questions for which they already know the answers.  Hey folks, it’s ok to ask the Superintendent a question that may not have an easy answer.  For example, are we using the right test to identify gifted kids?

    In my mind, the person who should be at the front of this with some real insight is Adams.  You would think someone who works in education (Adams works at SCOE) would have something intelligent to say on the issue.  He should either have insight of his own or at least access to experts at SCOE and the State Department of Ed.  He should be tapping the minds of those experts to benefit our students.  All of DJUSD is trying to tackle the fundamental educational issue in our country and the person who works in education refuses to take the lead or add anything helpful to the discussion.  How in the world can that be?  As both a parent and a teacher, I’ve got a real problem with the way that guy handles his business.

    1. MrsW

      That’s interesting about Adams.  Adams isn’t quoted much, so I googled him.  Turns out, a few months ago, Tom Torlakson promoted Tom to the position of Deputy Superintendent of Instruction and Learning Support CDE New Release

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