School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

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By Deb Finnegan

[On Monday] night, Washington Elementary School's Principal Christina Giguiere and Assitant Superintendent Dr. Raul Ramirez announced the GATE magnet program for third graders will be canceled next year.

They stated only 11 students wanted to enter the program with 7 of them being transfers from other schools. Normally the class is around 25 students with a line for attendance as the parents push for their students to take part in advanced learning and classes. Both of them stated they didn't know why there was a lack of interest this year. 

Something doesn't add up. In the past, just a few years ago, there were so many students wanting to get in they had to do a lottery system. My grandkids were part of that system and it was a big deal for them to get in and we all noticed the positive benefits in their education.

Ramirez has not been shy about his goal to get rid of the GATE magnet program in the past. Last year he proposed replacing this class with a different "cluster model," meaning instead of a dedicated class those students would be placed with non-GATE students in a non-GATE program. Essentially, what's the point of being GATE at all? Most parents rejected this idea and the Board moved on. 

They said the advertising and marketing of the program to parents has been the same for this coming year but I'm hesitant to believe that.

I'd like to hear from other parents to see if it really was just 11 students wanting to enter to program or if they possibly miscounted to achieve their own end goal.


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a-1583535457 Mar 06, 2020 02:57 PM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

My kid's GATE class is 1/3 LatinX. The district average is (approx) 2/3 LatinX kids. That ratio is not as drastic as most people commenting on this website are implying. I wonder what the Goleta ratios are?

sbdude Mar 05, 2020 04:36 PM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

There is a real bias against the priveliged kids at the SB Unified district. So they do things like take away GATE and dump Core Knowledge. It's like they want to even out the playing field by hammering down the top. What they ought to be doing is leveling the playing field by bringing up everybody not at the top.

a-1583430688 Mar 05, 2020 09:51 AM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

PITMIX, why hasn't decades and billions of dollars invested in Headstart and First Five made a difference in out comes? Where should we be spending that money instead. it was intended to compensate for any economic disparities, but it obviously has not even made a dent. Should First Five and Headstart funding be devoted to handing out free 3BR condominiums in the Goleta School District instead? Who dropped the ball on Headstart (federal) and First Five (state). What will Monique Limon (state) and Salud Carbajal (federal) do to remedy is misallocation of resources.

PitMix Mar 05, 2020 09:37 AM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

You know how they say the US's schools are terrible compared to the rest of the world? Well, if you compare students similar economic class groups in the US to Finland say, we do equally well. It is only when you lump in the economically disadvantaged students that our scholastic achievement suffers. So economic class has much more to do with achievement than ethnicity. But the US has a long history of attributing outcomes to race, so it is easy for us to do.

PitMix Mar 04, 2020 01:30 PM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

I subbed for gate and regular classes at San Marcos. Regular classes had lots of latinos. Gate classes almost none. It seemed like this is because the GATE students had educational and economic advantages that the rest didn't. It looks unfair because of the segregation, but really the answer is to figure out how to provide all kids those advantages if the parents can't provide them to start.

a-1583431029 Mar 05, 2020 09:57 AM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

PITMIX, what exact metrics are used to measure "success" in these very expensive pre-school programs. Only one I could find is they " shared better" for a few early years in grammar schoold; but never demonstrated any improved academic success standards. Please be more specific when claiming "success" for these very expensive Big Government pre-school programs that Democrat candidates are promising to expand even more. At present they are little more than tax payer funded baby-sitting, but at much higher rates and burdensome regulations which only protect more government employees while returning nothing to the children.

PitMix Mar 05, 2020 09:32 AM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

1:32, studies show that head start programs increase scholastic achievement for poor kids, but then they are tossed back into their community schools and the benefits disappear over the next few years. So the families cannot give them the educational and economic advantages, you have to develop new programs to make sure those benefits don't disappear. Or maybe develop new programs for the parents? Either way, you are talking about a lot of $$.

SBWoman Mar 04, 2020 10:16 AM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

What are SB resident kids to do? Cold Spring School, MUS, Goleta and Hope Districts offer GATE for special need students. SBUSD is wrong to terminate GATE which is essential to the special needs students whose minds are different from the norm. Ramirez says zip codes shouldn’t matter unless it’s to stop serving GATE needy students. My son passed me up in third grade. SBCC formerly tested to admit at 5th grade but now refuses while other CC’s still offer classes by tested entry. Parents need to organize- SAGE: Supporters if Advanced & GATE Education. Abolishing AP Classes will be next.

letmego Mar 05, 2020 04:07 PM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

MUS, Goleta, Hope, Cold spring - do they really have a dedicated, GATE-only program for students? Where only GATE students are together for most of the day from 3rd to 6th?

The answer is no. They have what the OTHER SBUSD schools have, which is the cluster GATE model, or grouping advanced students in particular subjects.

RHS Mar 04, 2020 09:54 AM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

GATE programs are essentially a stop gap against the encroachments of private schools that cherry pick student talent to make bucks with their institutions. Public schools should be more democratic than they have become. Classes should be open to all with an interest in attempting their challenge. But pre-screening and testing at a very early age is not a good thing for a pluralistic and open institution. All this said, unless people stand up for local public schools and stop the marauding forces that are attacking the basic American institution, our country will continue its slide into a elitist class structure.

letmego Mar 05, 2020 04:12 PM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

RHS didn't say that GATE was "Better", just different. It's true. In many cases, you can say it is "smarter", but GATE also comes with learning differences and challenges, emotional and personality differences and challenges. However, this is all a spectrum, and the ability of GATE students to succeed in mainstream school will vary, same as any student. I'd expect that many GATE students aren't so much "gifted" as "pushed" by their parents (and that opinion came from a teacher and parent of a GATE student who was "pushed" - his words.)

RHS Mar 04, 2020 10:48 AM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

Sounds so Trumpian to say that some people are just better than others and therefore entitled to their privileged road to success. Ugggh. (Didn't monarchs claim the same thing--they were chosen to be leader from birth?) And, yes, I object to privilege that is dependent on getting a special push ahead when others are denied that assistance.

a-1583346046 Mar 04, 2020 10:20 AM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

Being 'gifted" is not a matter of hard work. It is a born native ability that processes information differently. Don't punish it. And yes, this ability can be discerned at very early ages. It needs to be nurtured, not denigrated. Is there another descriptive term that does not trigger your distorted sense of "privilege envy"? The :gifted gene" can strike any child. They are just different.

a-1583346326 Mar 04, 2020 10:25 AM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

Where is our investment in parent trainsing and why are we not putting our huge Prop 98 education dollar into educating parents to enrich their own kids, instead of brutally letting "the state" take over all parent contact with them from cradle to grave? Why after decades of investing billions of tax dollars in First Five are we still talking about lack of home enrichment and preparation for schools? Where are the results for First Five and if they actually were successful fostering parent education, why have they not been ramped up based upon their solid and proven success models?

a-1583345537 Mar 04, 2020 10:12 AM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

Overuse of the word "democratic". Be careful when you demand "democratic" means to seek only the lowest common denominator. "Diversity" is our strength, remember? Kids come in all sorts of native abilities and exposure to peer pressure - it is cool to be dumb sadly is a prevailing school ethic - which can be ruinously corrosive. Don't let the least of us determine opportunities for the rest of us. It has been said, don't pave the road tor the child; pave the child for the road. Some kids are tall. Some kids re short. And some are just plain brighter than others. Don't punish anyone for what they can't help. Respond to each group appropriately. With our current #45 ranked schools, we have already bottomed out the lowest common denominator for all student achievement. Don't keep losing the kids on the top with continued misguided "social justice" policies, because they are anything but justice, and are not even social. You just want a generic soap factory turning out identical products of limited usefulness. First you have to admit the total failure of todays K-12 in this state. Otherwise you are arguing split hairs. NO one is getting good education in this state. Is that "democratic" - sharing the misery equally?

RHS Mar 04, 2020 10:06 AM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

I can't see what is inconsistent with being democratic and providing a good education. GATE stands for Gifted And Talented Education. Calling it Gate as though it was a passageway to better classes in intentionally misleading. Public schools should avoid deciding who is "Gifted and Talented" at such an early age. And it should offer the opportunity for those who have not been so identified to try harder or more creative work. This seems to me to be democratic.

a-1583344832 Mar 04, 2020 10:00 AM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

It's great to be democratic, but the issue is varying readiness for instruction at all grades. Kids from some homes are prepared and ready for grade level instruction, others are not. There has been a steady flight of families from the Santa Barbara School District over the past twenty years, and the Gate program at Washington was one feature that was popular and retained families and their children in the District.

TeaMan Mar 04, 2020 09:19 AM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

Bye bye gate at Washington. They are after all the programs just one at a time.
Same pattern. Kill the program then save it where there is pushback then undermine the program and watch it fail. Now it’s Gate, Core Knowledge, soon Charter and then the Academies.
When I see a pattern in a direction then I assume it has a purpose.

a-1583343067 Mar 04, 2020 09:31 AM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

Time to elect a new school board. Imagine that. Voters do have control over some school policies and hiring decisions. SBUSD is shafting parents in this community. All it takes is a few more engaged parents to be willing to run and serve on our local school board and made a difference. Our local schools do not have to be total pawns of the teachers unions.

letmego Mar 05, 2020 04:14 PM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

They don't have to cancel it. In this case, it looks like they really didn't get that much interest for this one year. To be honest, I've seen a declining interest at several schools over the last few years (various friends). If you consider the success of other schools - like Adams and Franklin - I am not too surprised. How many Eastside parents really want to do that drive every day if it is not necessary?

Luvaduck Mar 04, 2020 07:26 AM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

It's not an either-or situation--you can have both if your kids are up to it and want to do go that route. If not, that's OK, too. Lots of great kids in all the programs. It's up to the parents to know their kids, provide healthy meals, see that they get the sleep they need, have a place to study and monitor their social interactions to keep them safe.

meza Mar 03, 2020 08:51 PM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

There was a test given to children in 2nd grade this year that was supposed to "qualify" them for the gate lottery. Parents who's children scored high enough on the test were not automatically entered in the lottery, they had to go to the district office in person and submit a form to be entered in the lottery. At Washington, the way parents were notified was by a paper sent home with their child and then a single email telling of the requirement which was sent 1 day before the deadline to register for the lottery.

I imagine there were many parents who simply did not see the letter sent home with their child or were not able to re-arrange their work schedules on 1 day notice to go to the district office to submit a form.

a-1583296832 Mar 03, 2020 08:40 PM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

There are beautiful family homes in Goleta, in walkable friendly neighborhoods with GREAT schools., parks and open spaces. We moved from the Mesa 10 years ago and love the beaches, family atmosphere, UCSB, the bike path, and most of all the people here.

a-1583290513 Mar 03, 2020 06:55 PM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

The Principal at Washington, Christine Giguiere, did not notify any other GATE parents or families about the meeting held hastily Monday night. I had heard about the testing results through another second grade parent, but no communication from the Principal or on ParentSquare.

a-1583358190 Mar 04, 2020 01:43 PM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

If SBUSD is trying to eliminate GATE, yet retain objectively failing schools like Adelante, that is the fault of the school board and the voters. Just say no to dumbing down our K-12 education - it is hard to drop even lower than being ranked #45 in the Nation. But it looks like SBUSD is giving even these low expectations a good college try to surpass even Mississippi, who at least spends a heck of a lot less on their classrooms than Prop 98 spends on California classrooms. (Prop 98 - 50% of entire state general fund dedicated permanently every year to public education - K-14.) Plus billions of tobacco tax money for decades supporting First Five and billions dedicated to Headstart. Not even counting the billions of dollars spent on school bond issues and parcel taxes that state tax payers will continue to pay off for decades to come. How much of the remaining 50% of the general fund not going directly and exclusively to K-14 is used to service the huge amount of school bond debt that has already been forced on generations to come. No wonder the most powerful political force in this state is the California Teachers Association (CTA) - the state teachers union.

a-1583287773 Mar 03, 2020 06:09 PM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

Let the watering down of Washington begin. People who value excellence in academics will move to Goleta. They have much better schools. Hindsight is 20/20. Real estate agents, rev your engines!

monkeyboy Mar 03, 2020 04:03 PM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

The magnet program was ridiculous. We were not going to drive all across town when our local school is also very good. When I was a kid, GATE was at each school and we were taken for periods of the day for different lessons. My kid's school seems to do similarly, with more advanced kids being grouped together for extra lessons while the slowest are grouped together for extra help.

Luvaduck Mar 04, 2020 07:34 AM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

Grouping kids of similar ability and interest makes sense and maximizes a teacher's time teaching, not policing disruption from kids who are bored or unable to learn at class speed. The point is to get each kid learning at his or her maximum ability. That's hard enough even when the classroom abilities are more or less homogeneous. Some kids are squirrelier than others, some more introverted, some extroverted, and what's going on at home has a big impact.

Thomas John Mar 04, 2020 06:49 AM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

Monkeyboy, we happily drove our two kids the extra minutes across town to be part of the Gate Program at Washington. Excellent Teachers, great group of kids. I couldn't be happier.

a-1583274858 Mar 03, 2020 02:34 PM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

To clarify, the program isn't completely being terminated, they're just changing it to a "cluster model." Most parents don't feel this is as effective but I'm sure it's a lot cheaper which is why the school district wants it. Didn't they recently let Harriet Whaley, the GATE teacher, go as well?

a-1583274554 Mar 03, 2020 02:29 PM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

It is not accelerated; it is enriched. Because the kids and parents want more challenges than regular classroom can offer. Why would an administrator want to get rid of a program that values extra challenges in K-12 eduction? You are right. Something is not adding up. Though after trying to shaft the entire program last year, I suspect parents saw the hand-writing on the wall. Get your kids out of SBUSD if you want them to thrive.

PitMix Mar 03, 2020 12:55 PM
School District Makes Mistake in Canceling GATE Program

This feels very similar to the District trying to cancel the Core Knowledge program at La Cumbre Junior High, one week after the open house touting the Core Knowledge program. (Indy, Jan 28 2020). The parents there managed to save the program, will the Washington parents be that lucky?

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