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February 22, 2006

K-12 International Baccalaureate Voted Out
Suburban Pittsburgh School Board Ends K-12 Program
ACLU Threatens Lawsuit
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 Pittsburgh 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 Human Rights, 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 Pittsburgh 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 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 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, introduced in January, also recommends more federal IB funding.

         As an example of the political slant of IB curriculum, A.C. Flora High School in Columbia, SC described the 2002 IB Introductory Seminar given in Danvers, MA which was "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:
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.
        In Minnesota, Robbinsdale is creating a K-5 Primary Years International Baccalaureate Program (PYP) magnet school. Sun Newspapers of February 15th quotes Gayle Walkowiak, District 281's director of teaching and learning, as saying, "Sometimes IB is viewed as for gifted and talented [students] only. At this school, it will be school-wide." The Robbinsdale Desegregation Community Collaboration Council is proposing that the school begin in the 2008-2009 school year, with a site named by March 15.

        Minnesota currently has only one middle school IB program -- Sandburg Middle School in Golden Valley -- and ten high school IB programs. South St. Paul adopted International Baccalaureate district-wide last year, and District 191 (Burnsville-Eagan-Savage) is considering the same.

See also, International Baccalaureate.

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