How do you feel about changing SFUSD's GATE program?

Poll choices
Poll posted 4 years ago.

9 Comments

  • RMB - 4 years ago

    I agree with several of the comments above - the actual "GATE" label is a red-herring that makes it too easy to dismiss the real issue as a Lake Wobegon phenomenon. Whatever we call them, there is a real problem with how we are serving those 20-30% of "high achieving" kids. Neglecting them isn't going to help address the real problems that I imagine the "new policies" are trying to solve.

    I don't care about my kid getting a "gifted" label. I DO care about him being challenged and engaged, to help foster excitement about school and learning. And I recognize that SF isn't a bubble - he'll soon be competing (college, career etc.) with kids from other places where they are getting this challenge and engagement.

    That hasn't been happening meaningfully or systematically in our API 900+ elementary school, and we had been holding out hope for the middle school honors curriculum (our feeder school at the time was reputed to have a strong Honors program, which I understand has now been dismantled). It seems unconscionable that this was eliminated first, and now we're still in a period of developing plans and proposals for how to address the significant gap this creates for high-achieving kids (ie, real kids who are in school NOW for whom this is not a theoretical issue or future consideration).

    As we face making a middle school decision this time next year, we're in a bind. We'd much rather keep him with his friends and the strong community of families we currently have at our neighborhood school. But with this much uncertainty around what the "honors" curriculum will look like, we feel we have no choice but to apply to private middle schools. We are fortunate to have this as an option, though we didn't even contemplate it for elementary school because we were so committed to staying public. So this is a shame both for us, because it's our preference to stay in public school, and for SFUSD because we are active in our kids' school and support it in lots of ways.

    This is an overly long comment, but we are just completely exasperated by what we perceive as a real short-sightedness around this issue on the part of the district and a failure to take it seriously. The message we get is absolutely what you describe in your poll - "high achievers will do well regardless." And so faced with this flawed logic we will have to vote with our feet, and I don't think we'll be the only ones.

  • Moggy - 4 years ago

    Until SFUSD implements curriculum that challenges students who are bored with the mainstream curriculum; until teachers are adept at properly differentiating instruction for all types of learners in their classrooms, GATE identification is necessary. San Francisco Unified does not provide any GATE services or supports, so identification now is mostly a way for parents to show and make the statement that their children need to be challenged more, but that hasn't happened in the 11 years my son (who is GATE identified) has been in SFUSD. SFUSD administration tends to have the attitude which you state in your poll : "high achievers will do well regardless" which is unfair to those students who should be challenged as much as most other students, instead of being bored witless in school.

  • Maestra Malinche - 4 years ago

    My problem with GATE stems from when I was in middle school at an integrated school serving black and white children. Almost all of the kids in my GATE pull out class were white like me. The projects and assignments we did were great, and I kept asking myself why all the students didn't get the same opportunity to do such creative assignments in small groups. I guess my greatest GATE talent was seeing the absurdity and the inequity of GATE over 30 years ago, and it hasn't changed. The GATE identified student lists we receive at my high school on the peninsula have almost no Latino names on it, yet 40% of the students we serve our Latino. My colleagues and I try to add as many names as possible because we observe academic talents in so many more of our students who have been diminished by our white culturally centric vision of intellectual ability. It is racism when we classify our children in this way. Indeed, I believe that all students are gifted and talented in different ways. It is my job as a teacher to help them realize it, against a system that sorts them in such a biased and dehumanizing way. I have seen great benefit to grouping GATE identified white and Asian kids with non GATE Latino students - it's called building trust and an inclusive society.

  • Maestra Malinche - 4 years ago

    My problem with GATE stems from when I was in middle school at an integrated school serving blac and white children. Almost all of the kids in my GATE pull out class were white like me. The projects and assignments we did were great, and I kept asking myself why all the students get the same opportunity to do such creative assignments in small groups. I guess my greatest GATE talent was seeing the absurdity and the inequity of GATE over 30 years ago, and it hasn't changed. The GATE identified student lists we receive at my high school on the peninsula has almost no Latino names on it, yet 40% of the students we serve our Latino. My colleagues and I try to add as many names as possible because we observe academic talents in so many more of our students who have been diminished by our white culturally centric vision of intellectual ability. It is racism when we classify our children in this way. Indeed, I believe that all students are gifted and talented in different ways. It is my job as a teacher to help support them realize it, against a system that sorts them in such a biased and racist way. I have seen great benefit to grouping GATE identified white and Asian kids with non GATE Latino students - it's called building trust and an inclusive society.

  • Roberta - 4 years ago

    Being Gate Identified did not lead to much differentiation in instruction - especially in middle school Language Arts. students are not being taught necessary writing skills across all schools.

  • Matt - 4 years ago

    The GATE program is a fiction that is worse than useless, and I would not be sad to see it gone. Regardless, the district is failing miserably at providing serious, inspiring challenges to kids who could be developing lifelong passions for math and science.

    And the new curriculum--as good as it seems to be--gives me little cause for optimism. Look at the math department's professional development calendar and you'll find a truly minor amount of time devoted to teaching the teachers. This is revolutionary stuff (we're told) and yet the average math teacher has at most a couple of days to completely reform their pedagogy. (Or not: there seem to be no consequences for teachers who simply choose to ignore the new curriculum and teach as they have been for years.)

    Consider also the lack of material support and overall guidance, and you start to see a picture of a lot of high-minded talk with very little true commitment to change. (Either that or, as Brandon above writes, the district is "making it up as it goes along").

  • Brad - 4 years ago

    I think the notion that only the "Mozart or Einstein" level kids need additional challenge is ridiculous. If we take that approach we will be failing many children who are under-challenged, maybe severely so. The only consolation is that the existing GATE programs were unfunded and barely functional as it was.

  • Brandon - 4 years ago

    This poll doesn't really address the issues animating parents concerned about the current situation. While some might have a lot invested in the GATE label, I think most are more concerned about ensuring that their children receive appropriately challenging coursework. That the district doesn't eliminate the pathways to meeting the requirements of top tier universities.

    It *is* vital that SFUSD work to ensure equitable access for all students. It is equally important that the district stop making it up as it goes along. Don't discontinue the existing programs before you even have a plan for what comes next. The affected kids are middle school and high school now and don't have the luxury of waiting for SFUSD to figure it out.

  • Vicky - 4 years ago

    My personal hope is access to more challenging work for children who need it. It's hard for teachers to keep up with kids who are at the edge of the curve. Ours is hand writing every single problem in my son's workbook while they wait for an extra book at the next grade level to be approved.

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