As a former Bedford resident who continually questioned the value of the International Baccalaureate Program in the school district, I was not surprised when I found out that an attempt by IB diploma students to criticize their experience, would not be allowed.
Bedford’s IB Coordinator, Jon Cannon sent an e-mail to the Senior Diploma Candidates, informing students that they are not to give their honest opinions on the amount of work they had to endure or any regret they may have had after completing the IB Diploma Program. (See e-mail below)
We’ve heard enough from IB students about the amount of work they have to do in order to complete the program. Some of that may be helpful in terms of preparing for rigors of college, but others have expressed how much of it was busy work. Since IB is inquiry based, students must discover some of the academic content they are learning. Inquiry based learning versus direct instruction can be debated; however, when it becomes tedious work that has the potential to slow down the learning, that should be analyzed so students know what they are getting into when they sign up.
IB is supposed to foster critical thinking in students. However, there’ve been many examples from IB students who’ve acknowledged a world view (United Nations based) is pushed since IB comes from an international organization with differing values than American ones.
For instance, in the past, the IBO has stated that it endorses the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Article 29 of UDHR says:
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Compare the UDHR to the Declaration of Independence where the purpose of government is to protect the natural or unalienable rights of each individual:
- Under the UN Declaration of Human Rights, government’s purpose is to control the individual for the greater good of the global community.
- Under the US Declaration of Independence, we are born with rights and, the government exists to protect them. You and the product of your labor belong to you. Under the UDHR, the government is the grantor of human rights and, restricts or withdraws your rights according to its needs. You and your labor belong to the community.
These are some of the most serious concerns community members have had regarding what would be taught by an international organization. Therefore, suppressing or censoring an IB student’s honest and critical analysis is contrary to what the IBO claims when they say that IB teaches critical thinking. Or maybe they teach it but, they want to make sure that this kind of critical analysis is never aimed at the IB program.
Other IB graduates have come before the school board to report their disappointment with college admissions. Students shouldn’t be sold on the IB program. They should know exactly what they are getting into before they sign on. Censoring this information contradicts what is sold to the community when they have to pay for IB every year.
As a former member of the Bedford Taxpayers Association, I saw the the sales job early on. Students benefit from class rankings, AP selections and leveling at the high school level. Those are challenges that students can work towards that will help them when applying to top colleges. Students and parents who want those challenges are ignored, and IB is pushed.
The IB program continues to sell itself on a promise that other graduates have said does not live up to what they envisioned. Maybe that’s because critical information has been suppressed by the people who claim they want to teach your kids to think critically.
From: Jon Cannon <email@example.com>
Date: May 15, 2019 at 17:46:48 EDT
Subject: IB Presentations during Senior Project Celebration
Hello Senior Diploma Candidates,
I know you are busy studying for exams, but I wanted to make sure you all had the Presentation Instructions and Rubric for your presentations during Senior Project Celebration.
By now you should know when you are presenting and where. If not, check out the schedule on the Senior Project website.
For the presentation instructions and expectations, as well as the rubric, please refer to this document.
As for timing and “passing” the presentation, the 15-20 minute duration is a ballpark target. You will not fail if you clock in at 14 minutes and 30 seconds. And if you are presenting solo, make your target 8 to 10 minutes.
Everything else is on the rubric. The most important thing is that you genuinely celebrate the great things you’ve accomplished. The reason these presentations are required is because the community wants to see what you’ve done, and you should be proud of your accomplishments, and want to share them!
Everybody is aware of how hard the IB Diploma can be, and how much work it sometimes can take. You can certainly speak to the challenges you’ve faced, but the presentation is not the time nor the place to complain about the hard work you’ve done, or to diminish the extent of your achievements by expressing regret. I’m being honest here: the audience (students, teachers, and parents) doesn’t want to hear you say that you wish you hadn’t done the IB Diploma, even if it’s true! You did it, so you should be proud of that fact! They won’t feel sympathy for you if that’s the tone you choose to take. Honestly, they won’t.
I’ve shared this with all of the teachers who will be on your panels, and I have let them know that the expectation for you is that you fulfill the requirements of the rubric. If you do not, just like with Senior Project students, you will have to re-present to a different panel at a subsequent time.
Let me know if you have any questions. If I don’t see you before then, I will see you all tomorrow afternoon for the English Paper 1. I will probably reiterate this to all of you after the English paper 1 ends.
CC: Woods, Gilcreast, SP Committee
Bedford High School
PRESENTED to the BEDFORD SCHOOL BOARD in RESPONSE:
My name is Stephen Poschmann. *****, Bedford.
Ten or more years ago, when IB was being introduced into the high school and was a hot topic in Bedford, I considered myself a skeptic. I had heard and read about the concerns regarding possible indoctrination with direction coming from a European bureaucracy.
After talking to several people around town including some on the school board, I was assured of a few things:
- Political indoctrination is inevitable in high school with or without IB
- IB is a rigorous program that will prepare students for college
- IB classes can be counted as college credits
- IB teaches critical thinking
And finally, I was told that during the college admissions process, universities will value a student with an IB diploma above other applicants.
Now, that my daughter is a 2019 IB diploma graduate of Bedford High School, I would like to share our experiences with regard to the aforementioned assurances.
Regarding number 1): Political indoctrination is inevitable in high school with or without IB. That is true. I see it in my son’s classes and he is not an IB student.
Regarding number 2): IB is a rigorous program that will prepare students for college. It is rigorous. Regarding preparation for college, I don’t know yet, but I hope this turns out to be true.
Regarding number 3): IB classes can be counted as college credits. This is true but not as straightforward as it sounds. For a student to claim college credit, most colleges require the student to pass the IB test with a 6 or above out of 7 in an IB HL. IB SL classes do not count.
Regarding number 4): IB teaches critical thinking. That may be true, as long as the student is not critical of IB. My daughter, and others whom I will not name, wanted to speak out against IB in their end-of-year CAS presentation, but this was highly discouraged by the IB program. The implication being that if you speak ill of IB, you are putting your grade in jeopardy. Students were told to extoll the virtues of IB and how IB made them a better person. This does not sound like encouraging critical thinking but more like conforming to what you are being told to believe and capitulating to intimidation.
Lastly, regarding: universities will value a student with an IB diploma above others. In our personal experience (and we visited around twenty schools), in almost every case, the admissions people stressed how they value students with AP experience in high school. IB normally was only acknowledged as a benefit when we brought it up, demonstrating that it was more of an afterthought and not a priority for the admissions departments.
In closing, I would like the school board to ask themselves some questions:
- Has IB in Bedford turned out as well as originally intended?
- Was eliminating AP classes in favor of IB classes in the best interest of Bedford students?
- Is the fact that students are coerced to shine only a positive light on IB evidence that the Bedford IB program wants to hide dissatisfaction with the program?