GATE: First, do no harm

By From page A6 | December 14, 2012

Last Sunday’s piece about the virtues of the GATE program unwittingly pointed out one of the most glaring problems with the GATE program. Six years ago, my GATE-identified child was a student at the then-GATE-less North Davis Elementary. The educators were able to “distribute” the students in classes such that there was always a fair mix of the different types of students in each class. No class had more than a few students who regularly required extra teacher time (what Kathy Glatter referred to as “non English speakers and severe emotional problems”). There would be maybe three in a class of 30, about 10 percent.

By the middle of the school year, the English learners were well on their way to learning English from their classmates, the disruptive students had learned what a powerful behavior modifier peer pressure could be, and my child learned what the real world looks like and how to deal with it.

Now that NDE is a GATE school, the “problematic” students have been concentrated into a smaller student population. According to Glatter, they are now 20 percent of the class. How ironic. GATE contributes to this problem and then uses it as validation.

I don’t begrudge any parents who find the real Davis student population unacceptable. By all means, home-school your children or put them in private school. But don’t ask your neighbor to fund your child’s “special” education, and don’t destroy the Davis school district by turning it into a segregated world of “haves and have-nots.”

It should be a no-brainer for the school board: If one student’s gain is at the expense of another, find another way. The school board is currently (and quietly) drawing new guidelines for the GATE program. If you would like a public discussion about GATE, you had better let them know.

Wendy Amundsen

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