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Is the International Baccalaureate Program Anti-American?

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 5:31 PM

The International Baccalaureate program, originally developed as a standard curriculum for the children of diplomats, is growing in popularity in U.S. schools. But some parents and educators are critical of its content and expense.

The Sound of Ideas, our partner station WCPN's daily talk show, took on the topic of the International Baccalaureate program this week.

The International Baccalaureate program, originally developed as a standard curriculum to use with the the "internationally mobile" children of diplomats, is now growing in popularity in U.S. schools. That popularity is due in part to the belief that the program "seeks to teach students not just what they need to know, but how to think and learn," as the Sound of Ideas puts it.

While more than 20 Ohio schools have adopted parts of the IB program, some parents and educators are critical of it.

In one part of the hour-long show (listen to the full show) Sound of Ideas host Michael McIntyre asked IB proponents about some of those criticisms.

[audio href="http://www.wksu.org/news/audio/mp3/33844.mp3" title="Excerpt: The Sound of Ideas Discusses the International Baccalaureate Program"]Is IB anti-American?[/audio]

Q: How do you answer critics who say that IB is anti-American?

A: Paul Campbell, Head of Regional Development, International Baccalaureate Program
I let the schools answer that. I look at a body of schools, Northeast Ohio being a microcosm, from all kinds of backgrounds, parochial schools, wealthy schools, poor schools, urban schools, suburban schools, schools across the political spectrum, who have found their way to IB. And because of all the choices that schools are empowered to make within the [IB] program they can have it reflect the values of the local community. But I think that story is much better told by the schools rather than by the organizations.

Q: What about the idea that IB is in conflict with America's founding principles?

A: Tim Mitchell, International Baccalaureate Diploma Program Coordinator for the Shaker Heights school district
I think the critics can fear not. Our students are still well equipped with experience in American history courses and do receive an American government experience as well. They've gotten that through the course of their K-12 education. The reality is that national boundaries are probably less significant in the 21st century then they've ever been... We need to be able to integrate with the rest of the world and think intelligently and problem solve. And I think IB allows our students to have that preparation.

Q: Ninety percent of the schools that have IB in the United states are public schools. What about that money commitment when we're having financial crises in our school systems? Can they afford IB?

A: Paul Campbell, Head of Regional Development, International Baccalaureate Program
We've been surprised by how few schools have dropped the IB in the past couple years in the midst of this shattering depression in the eduction economy. It's probably not as expensive as people portray it to be because you're going to have to spend that money anyway. You're going to have to have teachers. You're going to have to have laboratory equipment. you're going to have to have information technology.

But what we're finding, and it's very encouraging, is that this investment is one that schools are fiercely maintaining. We have as many new schools coming on board or in the pipeline, again Northeast Ohio being a perfect example, as we had when things were a lot rosier economically.

Listen to the full show here.

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