Guest post by Jane Aitken…
UNESCO says that the International Baccalaureate curriculum promotes "human rights, social justice, sustainable development, population, health, environmental, and immigration concerns."
But are parents being told about this political agenda?
Missing from the presentation on IB on the MVRSD’s website (http://fc.mvsd.k12.nh.us/ibpresentation) is the fact that taxpayers would be supporting the agenda of UNESCO. In fact, there’s a lot missing from both the website, and from last Wednesday’s article on the subject in the Concord Monitor. Allow me to clue you in on the rest of the story…
The International Baccalaureate Organization is one of many education "industry" groups of consultants and reformers. The industry recognizes our extreme desire to improve education and competes for the large amounts of taxpayer money we put toward that cause in NH. Promoters from the IBO (www.ibo.org) a Switzerland-based group in partnership with UNESCO (www.unesco.org) use words such as "rigorous," "prestigious" and "competitive" to sell the purported eliteness of it’s program. This self-laudatory language is suggestive of academic success, even when no track record exists to support such a claim.
After a school is authorized by IBO to use IB program(s) and pays the "annual fee," it can be accepted as an "IB World School." IBO charges for using their "programs" (curriculum, teacher training, instructional methods, assessments done outside the USA, coordinator, etc.) in our schools in the U.S.A., which are then referred to as their schools.
The 2008-09 Diploma Program "annual fee" has increased from $8,850 to $9,150 per school this year.
The various individual "per candidate" costs (covering registration with IB, per subject fees, exam registration fee, per exams costs, etc.) have also risen. Schools are also required to have an IB Coordinator. What is even more concerning than the extra inflated cost is that the school and its teachers must all adopt the IBO’s "mission."
In New Hampshire, the bulk of our local property tax bill goes to support public education and it’s assumed that we have some "local control". If the MVRSD already employs the most qualified staff they can find, why would they need to buy a program that is run from another country to provide "rigor"? Tests are sent to any number of places abroad to be graded by the IBO. How does a student appeal a grade and how is this local control?
The presentation states that it will rely heavily on inquiry-based learning and constructivism, two methodologies that are proven failures at the elementary and high school level. University of Virginia professor Robert Tai and Harvard University researcher Philip Sadler have done a study which appeared recently in The International Journal of Science Education. It states that inquiry-based learning is not the ideal way for all high school students to prepare for college science.
"The findings suggest that students with lower levels of high school mathematics attainment had greater success in college science when they reported more teacher-structured laboratory experiences in high school," Tai and Sadler report in their study, "Same Science for All? Interactive Association of Structure in Learning Activities and Academic Attainment Background on College Science Performance in the U.S.A."
From my personal experience as a teacher, these "fad" methods also seem to hurt the less able children, the most. Is that what MVRSD wants? [See Structure More Effective In High School Science Classes, Study Reveals http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090326114415.htm]
In the presentation, it also states: "We want to develop the whole child and create lifelong learners with cultural awareness and the ability to compete in an increasingly competitive economy." But what does all that actually mean? Are parents able to translate this language into anything meaningful or is this just edu-speak intended to sound high-minded while clouding the agenda? The presentation lists a lot of educational skills that should already be implemented by any school. It also talks about giving students a "global perspective" but doesn’t explain exactly what that means either. How can the district maintain control of the curriculum when it is required to adhere to the principles, policies, and mission of a group that administers their program from Geneva, Switzerland?
Schools, once they have committed to IB, are bound by IBO’s "rules" and ideological mission. The contract between the IBO and IB schools is bound by the Geneva (World) Court.
In Bedford, the IB Diploma Program was implemented quietly. Most parents didn’t know, but should be able to request a copy of the contract with the IBO. Parents in that town still have questions about its broad ideology. (See letters below) And so should the parents of MVRSD.
"We’re living on a planet that is becoming exhausted," said George Walker, IB’s former director-general. "The program remains committed to changing children’s values so they think globally, rather than in parochial national terms from their own country’s viewpoint." Many parents might be surprised to find that the goal of American education was anything other than imparting knowledge, skills and strengthening the principles of citizenship put forth in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Furthermore they probably didn’t know that supporting those ideals was considered "parochial."
TOK, short for "Theory of Knowledge," is a philosophy course that proposes to challenge what kids know or think they know. Apparently this title came from a phrase that originated with Immanuel Kant and generally means "sowing the seeds of doubt." [See: http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/en/russell1.htm]
It is urged that parents and school board members do more independent research on this program, specifically its values-based mission, its methodologies, overall philosophy and the rest of its stated mission, which is to promote the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (redistributionist), and create acceptance for "global citizenship" and "global governance" under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UDHR does not protect rights as innate, as our own Bill of Rights does, but states instead that the rights and freedoms enumerated therein "may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations." In other words, their premise is, what government gives, government takes away.
Our Constitution has been violated in many ways, but I didn’t realize we’d ditched it in favor of the UN’s vision of "global governance". While some may think it’s perfectly acceptable to float the idea that national sovereignty is outdated, many might object. It definitely appears as an attempt to change attitudes about our current form of government.
IB is not the only program that promotes ideologies. In general, much American post-modern curricula replaces the teaching of historical facts with the teaching of attitudes and values about multiculturalism and world-mindedness. A review of science, and even math texts, reveals that sustainable development, environmental protection and social justice generally dominate.
Taxpayers should learn more before giving IB their stamp of approval. The IBO does not release materials for free, so it’s hard to get copies of tests. But I have, and that is what prompted me to discover the political agenda embedded in the IBO’s mission.
It’s time that public education finds its direction from the bottom up — the school board should be listening to the parents and taxpayers, and not be snookered into doing what some highly-paid consultants, "reformers", and snake-oil salesmen have told them.
Jane Aitken lives in Bedford and is a retired teacher with 35 years in the classroom.
IB is a Waste of Taxpayer Money
Program Hostile to Some Religious Values