Affirmative action attacks GATE school program

May 4, 2012

By Katy Grimes

SACRAMENTO–If you thought that affirmative action was dead in California, think again. In fact, California Democrats behave as if it was never outlawed, and continue to pass laws mandating racial preferences.

The Assembly passed a bill Thursday which would require school districts to dumb down the successful Gifted And Talented Education program in public schools, in order to allow “children of color” into the program.

Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Los Angeles, the author of this bill, said Thursday that “children of color” are not fairly represented in GATE programs across the state.

Blumenfield and supporters must assume that “children of color” are not capable of testing into the GATE program, and need the assistance of another affirmative action program.

But the GATE program is a meritocratic program, in which students participate entirely on the basis of merit, rather than by birth or privilege, or because of skin color or socioeconomic status. There are obviously many children of all races and genders in the GATE program.

The GATE program identifies student participation in the areas of “intellectual, creative, specific academic, or leadership ability; high achievement; performing and visual arts talent.” And GATE is open to all students who attend public school. No one is keeping them out, other than the deteriorating public education system and union teachers, who incessantly whine about the poor quality of the kids they have to teach, and the lousy parents.

GATE programs are operated in approximately 800 school districts located in all 58 counties,” the bill analysis states. “There are over 480,000 public school students that have been identified as gifted and talented in the state.”

According to Blumenfield,  AB 2491 is needed because, “[I]t is crucial that we provide an appropriate education for gifted children living in disadvantaged situations. While many parents can afford to provide extracurricular enrichment for their gifted children, low-income parents lack the resources to provide these opportunities.”

Blumenfield provided a chart for the bill analysis which supposedly illustrates a suspicious gap of demographic differences between the general student population in California and the student population identified for GATE. “The chart shows an over-identification of White, Asian and  Filipino students and an under-identification of Hispanic and African American students in the GATE program state-wide,” the analysis states.

GATE Student Population

Statewide Student Population

Hispanic or Latino












African American



American Indian or Alaska Native



Pacific Islander



(Source: California Department of Education 2010-11 Data)

However, Proposition 209, passed in 1996 by the voters of California, amended the California Constitution to prohibit public institutions from discriminating on the basis of race, sex or ethnicity.

“The people behind the bill don’t want to have to raise the performance of kids, and instead, want to do the easy thing of reducing requirements,” said Lance Izumi, director of education at the Pacific Research Institute,’s parent think tank. “And the reason they don’t want to do the heavy lifting is because the successful methods go against liberal orthodoxy–more choice for parents, and more individualized delivery of education.”

GATE Program

The stated purpose of the Gifted and Talented Education program is to “develop unique education opportunities for high-achieving and underachieving pupils in California public elementary and secondary schools who have been identified as gifted and talented.”

And the GATE program states, “Special efforts are made to ensure that pupils from economically disadvantaged and varying cultural backgrounds are provided with full participation in these unique opportunities.”

So why the need for the bill?

Blumenfield said that English learners may not receive recognition of high intelligence or talent. Perhaps he is correct, but reading, writing and speaking English are crucial to learning all other subjects in California schools.

AB 2491 specifically mentions the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Blumenfield, who represents Los Angeles, has obvious ties to the Los Angeles Unified School District, which has a large concentration of low-income and minority students.  And Blumenfield received very large contributions from the teachers unions and other public employee unions. LAUSD is a failing school district, and demonstrative of Izumi’s analysis of a school district which doesn’t want to have to raise the performance of the children, and instead, would rather lower the educational requirements in order to appear as if they are performing better.

“If affirmative action really worked, then why is the highest ranked school in all of California the American Indian Public Charter School in downtown Oakland?” Izumi asked. “It is made up of nearly all minority students. They didn’t need affirmative action.”

The American Indian Public Charter School serves 200 inner-city students in fifth through eighth grade, and has an average API of 988.

“The goal of this bill is to encourage better integration of those students who are not in the GATE program but would otherwise qualify,” the bill analysis states. But that statement is highly unlikely according to Ward Connerly, author of Proposition 209 and president of the American Civil Rights Institute.

Connerly said that the bill’s rationale is flawed because of the academic gap between black and Latino students, and Asian and white students. Connerly says that if you take away affirmative action, you take away the ability of schools to discriminate, and schools want to be able to to perpetuate the damaging discriminatory stereotype which presumes black and Latino students cannot compete with Asian and white students. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy for liberals.

Connerly also said that Blumenfield’s bill is inappropriate as the U.S. Supreme Court will decide this fall the landmark affirmative action case, Fisher vs. University of Texas at Austin. The case asks the court to decide whether affirmative action in the university admissions process is a measurement toward increasing the diversity of the student body, or if it violates the civil and constitutional rights of applicants, when schools consider race and ethnicity in university admissions.

The outcome of this case will have deep implications on all school affirmative action policies.

(student photos from the American Indian Public Charter School.)

Related Articles

Critics charge AB 375 doesn't really protect students

SACRAMENTO –The Legislature still is working on teacher-discipline legislation. AB375 is by Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo. It passed the Senate

2/3 Wis. 8th Graders Not Proficient

John Seiler: Wisconsin teachers have been on strike. And they object to Gov. Scott Walker’s move to end or limit

Interim Cal State Chair: ‘Herb Carter Was the Fall Guy’

MARCH 1, 2012 By JOHN HRABE Legislators don’t have Herbert Carter to kick around anymore. But, don’t expect Cal State’s