International Baccalaureate program a target
Critics say U.N. behind curriculum
Established in Geneva in 1968, the I.B. program emphasizes the characteristics students should develop – such as being principled, open-minded, caring, risk-taking and reflective – while also mastering academic material such as math, history and science. But in some communities, it’s drawn skepticism because of its connection with the United Nations.
“The I.B. program frightens me,” said Heidi Martin, a Salisbury resident with two children in the district. “It frightens me terribly.”
Martin, 46, is a member of the Salisbury Education Committee, whose mission is to “broaden communications” between the residents and the district and to “ensure quality education at affordable costs.”
Citing cost and national sovereignty, Martin and others said they hope to persuade voters next week to ask school officials reconsider their decision to implement the program.
“They never talked about the cost,” Salisbury Selectman Ken Ross-Raymond said of officials with the Merrimack Valley School District. “They never talked about the fact the program was developed in Switzerland and some of our tax dollars are now going to Switzerland for this program.”
“For lack of a better word, it’s a subsidiary of the U.N.,” said Loudon Selectman Steve Ives.
In a “Myths vs. Facts” section on its website, the program said its original purpose was to “facilitate the international mobility of students preparing for university.”
“To me, I.B. is the U.N.,” said Martin, who estimated she’s spent more than 120 hours researching the program. “They share the same address, the same contact information and they share the same building.”
Worldwide, the program works with 3,342 schools in 141 countries to offer programs to about 997,000 students, according to its website. In the United States, there are 1,315 I.B. schools.
The program does have a more regimented curriculum for high school juniors and seniors, said Christine Barry, assistant superintendent in Merrimack Valley, but for the time being Merrimack Valley is only using the program for students from first to 10th grade. Those students will continue to learn the material in the district’s curriculum, which is tied to standards set by the state.
“I.B. explicitly teaches citizenship and characters in citizenship even at the early levels,” said Barry. The students will still need to take statewide standardized tests.
But Barry said the program will help teachers “improve their practices and provide the education for the kids that they’ll need in the 21st century.”
Martin said she worries that the district will eventually alter its curriculum to accommodate I.B. She said she’s purchased textbooks and workbooks that include inflammatory, anti-American material.
“What sanctions can we impose on these nations that are using too many resources that are polluting the world?” she said was a question in one of the books she’d obtained. Read the rest of the story