Since I teach Honors English, all of a sudden I have 20 parents who want their little darlings in GATE classes in high school. That's why there's a test people. Don't ask me to write a letter of recommendation; I'm not an expert in this regard. Yes, your sweet darling has an A in my class, and yes, she is a hard worker... but GATE is about aptitude, not achievement.
“But I want her challenged.”
What they’re really saying is,
“I don’t want her in with the general riff raff.”
Or even more disturbing,
“I don’t want my lily white kid in with those brown kids.”
Am I being overly dramatic? Maybe.
See, we’re supposed to have guidelines in our district about this. GATE was developed as an off-shoot of Special Ed. Yep, most of you knew that, but some of you didn’t, right?
Special Ed. is for students who learn differently from the mainstream population. True GATE identified students do. Learn differently, I mean. It was designed for students in the top 3-5% of IQ levels. Now, I know, IQ tests are not the be all and end all, but… let’s face it. Right now, at my junior high of 1000 students, 300 are in GATE English. I’m not a math whiz or anything, but even I can see that over 25% in GATE doesn’t represent properly. Add to that 200 more students in Honors, and you can see that things are, shall we say, slightly off at my school.
Could it have anything to do with the fact that we have the highest socio-economic level in the district? Could it be that we don’t even have enough students to qualify for Title I finding?
We have rich, white kids. With rich, white parents who are not used to taking “no” for an answer. Who determine their self worth by the grades and awards their off spring produce. Who threaten our district and principals with pulling out their students and putting them into private schools if they don’t get their way.
Well, I’m sorry, folks. Being in a GATE class in high school won’t help if your child isn’t qualified. It will just lower the expectations of the class, and create a situation in which GATE means nothing.
And really, in the real world, what does GATE mean anyway? Nothing. Hard work, loyalty, tenacity, trustworthiness, the ability to be a team player; these are how we are judged.
Not by some label our parents pushed on us so they could brag to their Pilates or golf buddies.