By Julie M. Quist Over the unruly objections of International Baccalaureate (IB) supporters, school board members from the Upper St. Clair, PA district voted 5 to 4 last Monday to end their K-12 IB program. Upper St. Clair is a top-performing school district in Pennsylvania with an IB program in place since 1998. The IB described the vote as the most significant challenge to come to IB, because it involves the K-12 curriculum. IB has been successfully challenged in cities which include Fairfax, VA and San Diego, CA.
Ironically, the qualities IBO describes itself as promoting, a "peaceful world" through "understanding and respect," were conspicuously missing from enraged IBO advocates in Upper Clair. For example, the Pittsburg Tribune Review, 2/21/06 states: As board members in opposition to IB stated their positions, the crowd in the high school auditorium became boisterous. Board members were met with boos and screams of "We’re going to recall you." The interruptions became so frequent and intense that board president Sulkowski requested police officers present come to the front of the auditorium. Sulkowski also threatened to clear the auditorium if the interruptions did not stop.
Parents and students had been mobilizing to save the program since some board members labeled it anti-American last week. More than 300 people attended a meeting Thursday to organize their opposition and parents and students picketed in front of the district administration offices Friday. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is threatening a lawsuit to force the district into continuing IB. Opponents of IB cited concerns about IB’s violation of local control, IB’s endorsement of the radical Earth Charter, IB’s promotion of the UN Universal Declaration of Independence, and its needless duplication of Advanced Placement classes. "Why do we not want to foster a strong Advanced Placement offering," questioned board member David Bluey, who holds a masters degree in education. IB is an international curriculum out of Geneva, Switzerland. The Pittsburg Tribune Review quotes IB’s deputy regional director, Ralph Cline, as stating, "There’s nothing in the curriculum of any of the programs that require any teacher or student to be taught about the Earth Charter or to support it." The IB publication "IBO: Myths and Facts," however,states that IBO "promotes the Earth Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the idea of multiculturalism." IB is coming under increased scrutiny across the country, largely because it is being expanded through additional federal grant money.
A recurring criticism concerns IB’s promotion of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Critics point out that students are not taught nor is the public informed that Article 29 of that UN document puts the United Nations in authority over individual rights — unlike America’s founding documents, which describe individual rights as "inalienable." Article 29 states: "These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations." Another frequent criticism is IB’s emphasis on creating "world citizens." Former IBO Deputy Director General, Ian Hill states in the publication, Education for Disarmament, , speaking to the Disarmament Forum, that "IBO seeks to develop citizens of the world." ["Curriculum development and ethics in international education," 2001] Whatever we are a citizens of, we are governed by. Teaching "world citizenship" undermines our own American citizenship and the authority of our Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and Constitution. These documents describe the principles that make protect our freedom. As opposition to IB gathers steam, a bi-partisan bill will be heard in the Senate next week, S 2198, which would provide even more federal money to implement the IB curriculum nationally. President Bush’s American Competitive Initiative, introduce in January, also recommends more federal IB funding. INTRODUCTORY IB SEMINAR As an example of the political slant of IB curriculum, A.C. Flora High School in Richland, VA described the 2002 IB Introductory Seminar given in Danvers, MA "designed for schools from around the world interested in becoming part of the IB Program."
A. C. Flora’s Plan for Integrating Global Concerns into the Curricula:
- Math Studies curriculum explores problems concerning the weather, environmental protection, conservation, and energy.
- In HL Math the students will look at the global population problem, regional population problems, and models for the spread of disease, using data from problem areas such as the African AIDS epidemic.
- The statistics unit will examine a variety of problems from a global perspective, such as the disparity of wealth distribution between first and third world countries.
- The IB Physics curriculum will integrate global concerns and perspectives in the following ways: when studying electricity and magnetism, students look at power production and the third world, the control of emissions from power producing plants, control of emissions from automobiles, non-point source pollution and countries right to defend against it (for example, Canada’s right for compensation from the US for the production of acid rain);when studying the law of conservation of energy, they will examine the oil reserves on earth and the rights of OPEC countries to control the production of oil;
- Students will delve into some of the more pressing international pollution concerns, such as global warming, fossil fuels, heavy metals, and other waste products of an increasingly industrialized world.
- Because science … some examples include: environmental concerns (presently the honors level biology classes, which are pre-IB, are researching the Galapagos Islands oil spill from an Ecuadorian tanker. The students are writing persuasive letters to government officials. Worldwide environmental issues will always exist and can be integrated into the lessons.),
- In Theory of Knowledge, students will frequently address issues from a multicultural perspective. For example, ethical topics must always be discussed from the perspective of different cultures, such as Muslim, Native American, Western European, African, and so forth. Also, students will seek to identify and examine the validity of cultural stereotypes for example, the common assumption that Europeans use primarily linear rational thought, while people of the Far East think in non-linear, mystical ways.
- Students will look at languages in translation and how misperceptions can arise from translation and social and cultural biases.
- In Latin SL, an ancient language, students will examine the ancient world as a sounding board to measure and compare the global issues in a modern world. Students will discuss the impact on the Roman world, as well as their own, of such topics as women’s rights, slavery, and national imperialism.
At A. C. Flora the French classes have continuously integrated global concerns, such as pollution, endangered species, health issues (obesity, aging, AIDS, cloning), space research, human rights, and the death penalty.