Saturday, November 20, 2010

The International Baccalaureate--Infiltrating?

I certainly had no intention of rushing to the defense of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program when I read this article on the website of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-Fam), but it was a poor editorial choice for a worthy organization and the IB, though flawed and left-wing, deserves a better shot.

C-Fam is active at the United Nations with its mission of promoting a "proper understanding of international law, protecting national sovereignty and the dignity of the human person." I am familiar with their work just as I am familiar with the IB curriculum. Consequently when C-Fam linked the IB and the UN to the "biggest educational scam perpetrated on American schools today" I couldn't help but take notice.

The problem as C-Fam reports it seems to be that the IB is trying to work its way into American public schools in order to disseminate its UN, internationalist, socialist, left-wing ideas while masquerading as legit education. Leading the charge is a Long Island parent, Lisa McLoughlin, who has her own website, Truth About International Baccalaureate.

One has to wonder just how much the IB's admittedly secular, multi-cultural curriculum differs from what passes for education in many of today's American public schools. (I'm thinking of the young man in California who was told to remove the American flag from his bicycle. I doubt if either the UN or the IB was behind that.) Even if it were the case that the IB and the UN are in collusion to wreak (further) havoc on American public education, both C-Fam and Ms. McLoughlin have been sidetracked from the underlying problem by attacking the IB rather than the American public education bureaucracy.

Among the innumberable ills of our public education system is that it is essentially a government monopoly that dictates to America's parents what their children will be taught and penalizes those of us who choose to opt out of the system by denying us the opportunity to use our tax dollars toward the education of our choice. For those public schools out there that are choosing to adopt the IB curriculum, the decision lies at the feet of America's educators, themselves in many cases so steeped in the culture of relativism, secularism, and multi-culturalism that they no longer know enough or care enough to provide curriculums that teach American history, American exceptionalism, Judeo-Christian ideals and the nuts and bolts of the three Rs. Even if the IB and the UN were beating down the door, these educators have the choice to just say no.

Given that there are so many truly nefarious things that the United Nations promotes and that C-Fam reports on so well, this detour to the IB curriculum is a distraction. Parents like Lisa McLoughlin would do more good by devoting their efforts to exposing the public schools for the failures that they are and crusading for school vouchers, tax incentives for home schoolers and an end to teachers' unions.

(By the way, the IB curriculum is a bona fide school curriculum whose students fare quite well academically. When my own kids took math, chemistry and physics in college, their freshman year college material was largely review. The preparation they had from their IB math and science courses was not the exception. Their IB history and English courses emphasized reading, writing and research. By 10th grade most IB students are accustomed to writing 1200-word essays on a regular basis. In foreign language exams from French to Chinese, IB students are able to score competitively on internationally normed tests. Subjects like anthropology, philosophy, economics and psychology are all taught at a challenging level.)

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