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Education Reporter

Baccalaureate Backlash
Tax-Supported IB Program Spurs Complaints
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The Bush administration has begun issuing grants to spread the European-based International Baccalaureate (IB) program to more American schools. However, schools that already administer the program have drawn fire from parents objecting to its anti-Western bias and its inferiority to the College Board's Advanced Placement (AP) system in the eyes of U.S. colleges.

The United Nations-sponsored program aims to become a "universal curriculum" for teaching global citizenship, peace studies and equality of world cultures. It has been adopted by about 1,450 schools in 115 countries, including 502 schools in the U.S., of which 55 are primary, middle and secondary schools in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

The IB program started with UNESCO in 1996. Its director in Geneva, George Walker, describes it as offering people "a state of mind - international-mindedness." He told the Washington Times (1-18-04) that the program is committed to changing children's values so they think globally, rather than in parochial terms from their own country's viewpoint. (For a more detailed description of the IB program, see the Education Reporter, July 2003.)

The U.S. Education Department has issued its first $1.2 million grant to implement the IB program in middle schools that are to become feeder schools for the IB high school diploma in low-income school districts in Arizona, Massachusetts and New York. (Washington Times, 1-18-04)

However, fierce opposition to the program has emerged in Fairfax County, VA, where one high school has dropped the IB curriculum under pressure from parents and teachers.

"Administrators do not tell you that the current IB program for ages three through grade 12 promotes socialism, disarmament, radical environmentalism, and moral relativism, while attempting to undermine Christian religious values and national sovereignty," wrote longtime critic Jeanne Geiger last year in the Reston Connection. Her children were required to enroll in IB classes at South Lakes High School.

Woodson High School in Fairfax dropped the IB program this year after facing a backlash from parents dating from 1999, when the AP school began converting to an IB curriculum. The last straw came when parents and teachers learned that the IB-required standard-level courses making up half the curriculums two-year high school diploma program were not accepted by top-ranked Virginia colleges.

E.J. Nell Hurley, mother of four daughters in Fairfax public schools, led the successful fight to remove IB from Woodson High School. She told the Washington Times of a conversation with the admissions director for the University of Virginia, who said, "If you are at an IB school and you are not going for the IB diploma, don't waste your time applying to UVA or any other top-rated schools. Your child's application will go to the bottom of the admissions pile."

Even with an IB diploma, Hurley said, a recent Woodson High graduate was awarded only 9 credits by UVA, versus 36 credits awarded to an older student who took the AP curriculum.

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