Where are the G.A.T.E. Kids Now?
In the first grade, I vividly remember the pride in my chest when my teachers begged my mom to get me “G.A.T.E. tested” as a 6 year old. She tried, and failed. In the second grade, they continued to deny her. However, by the third grade my state testing scores were so high I was granted automatic acceptance. I entered my first combo G.A.T.E class.
From there it was never ending pressure and never ending comparisons. The G.A.T.E program was not what it was made out to be. Teachers pitted students that weren’t in the program versus those who were. Claiming that we were better than the others for being “advanced”. This led to teachers giving us a free pass to ignore normal elementary standards, creating a habit of poor work ethic. None of us felt as though we had to fulfill responsibilities because we were taught that no matter what we did or didn’t do we were still better. But this was not the only issue it created.
According to an article written by NBC, the G.A.T.E program has been proven not to excel students but rather create division racially and economically, on top of socially. San Mateo Union High School District, for example, found that Asian and White students made up the majority, while only 9.9% of the program was Hispanic and Latino students in 2021. Putting a minority group that is predisposed to be overlooked and underpaid below other majority groups by the time they leave elementary school. This is a pattern seen throughout California schools that have G.A.T.E. classrooms.
In a world of division, this is the last thing we need to instill in young children. Doing more harm than good, the G.A.T.E program is outdated and harmful. Students may feel special at first but these types of classes are setting our future generations up for failure not success.
Cover photo courtesy of Liz - Flickr: Teams and overview, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18415233