Guest Blog: IB Myth v. Fact Analysis
By Cherilyn Bacon Eagar
Director, World Class Education Research
Since 2005, controversy has dogged the International Baccalaureate Programme. But does the criticism have merit? IBO has responded on their website
This is my analysis. For each statement, below, I have answered TRUE
(partly true, partly false), and given a short explanation. Here is a more thorough document
, complete with citations. I have compiled an even more extensive overview on the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. If readers would like more information they can contact me
.The IB was developed for the purpose of creating an ‘international education system’.” PT/PF.
The founders were truly internationalists, liberal, and humanist in philosophy. The original idea was to provide an education that would provide continuity for transient League of Nations employees’ children (later of the U.N.). To this day, the mission of the international school re-mains different from a national or state school. The international school is not concerned with developing a national identity. That was not - and is not - its intent. A state school should examine why a curriculum constructed for students who are living abroad and who are transient is being used in schools whose student body is not transient and should develop an identity to the state and nation.“The IB is only for private and international schools.” PT/PF.
The international schools that so many Americans speak so highly of from their experience living abroad are usually the privately-run IB programs that have a high tuition averaging around $25,000 a year per student. The IBO curriculum is in about 400 U.S. schools, public and private, and over 2,000 schools in 125 countries. The IBO is a business that plans to bring the IB to as many schools - public, charter, or private - as possible. Again, the mission of an international school is different from a national/state school. So in that regard, the IB is more appropriate for transient students living abroad.“The IBO promotes a left-wing agenda, socialism, disarmament, radical environmentalism, and moral relativism, while attempting to undermine Christian religious values and national sovereignty.” TRUE.
A review of speeches given by its founders and contemporary leaders show an array of progressive (leftist) thought that include all of the above. Former IB Deputy Director Ian Hill delivered a speech on the purpose of international education to the Disarmament Forum identifying the organization’s political persuasion.“The IB comes from a philosophy that ‘America’s foundational principles of national sover-eignty, natural law and inalienable rights are at odds with the IB curriculum and are not taught.’” PT/PF.
Desmond Cole, the recently deceased director of the United Nations International School in NYC, and one of the key leaders in the development of the IB gave a speech which supported the idea that no war is ever justified - only the war on poverty, want and hunger.
An Internet search of IB teacher websites shows a predominantly leftist thought process. The U.N. and UNESCO share the leftist ideals of redistribution of the wealth (for achieving “sustain-ability”), world citizenship, disarmament, and environmental policies whether or not scientific research warrants it. The solutions require that wealthy countries redistribute their wealth to developing countries through taxation.
History is taught from a regional perspective, rather than a national view.
The perspective of the teacher certainly could make a difference. However, because the curriculum takes a holistic, interdisciplinary approach (educating outside the traditional “three R’s”), the tests require politically correct answers and test in the “affective domain” - attitudes and values. One can logically reason that those who are internationalist and progressive in their own personal political philosophy would be more attracted to teaching in an IB program in the first place, so a more leftist philosophy is what a parent can expect. (More later on this point.)
It must be remembered that President Reagan withdrew the United States from UNESCO primarily because of its un-American views and leftist policies. The U.S. did not re-join Until 2003. Even then, the Heritage Foundation issued an unheeded warning.
Secretary of Education Rod Paige spoke to UNESCO, and even acknowledged the work of that organization in providing the Education for All Framework at Dakar as the parallel to the U.S.’ current plan - No Child Left Behind. Those who do not subscribe to the progressive, anti-American policies of UNESCO will not be supportive of NCLB, nor the progressive educational models that stem from any UNESCO partnership.
The claim that the IB might be anti-religious stems from two sources: First, the IB applies a narrow scope of analysis to “what is knowledge” and “how we know truth.” This is applied to a holistic curriculum (not limited to the 3 R’s, but including religious and ethics beliefs), which requires religion or the faith-based domain to be examined under the same microscope as the scientific method and empirical research. That which cannot be proven through epistemology can-not be true or fact. Although it would be unlikely that one’s religion would be outwardly attacked in a classroom setting, the critical thinking/higher order thinking skills process is persuasive.
The other concern is most likely that the UNESCO/IBO partnership, the connection between UNESCO’s Education for All and the U.S. Secretary of Education’s reference to its U.S. parallel, No Child Left Behind, shows a logical connection of principles. For example, Education for All Article 58 references allegiance to the United Nation’s universal Declaration on Human Rights Article 26 (a document the U.S. has not yet ratified), and in particular, its commitment to pro-mote U. N. activities.
U.N. activities include the promotion of its policies, declarations, accords, treaties and agreements, of which The Earth Charter is one. UDHR also declares that the purpose of education is to develop the affective domain (meaning to change children’s values and attitudes), to socialize students to the ideals of the UDHR. Among these ideals are same gender marriage rights, abortion rights, and immigration rights. No immigrant can be denied the right to change their nationality (which could explain why schools are hesitant to identify illegal students and why the U.S. Congress has been paralyzed in building a border fence or in keeping illegal immigrants from entering the country.)
The Earth Charter has put pressure on the U.S. to redistribute the wealth to eradicate worldwide poverty, to support abortion rights and same gender marriage internationally as human rights, and it uses controversial environmental “un-science” to drive its socialist solutions. Read it for yourself. www.TheEarthCharter.org .
To simplify this connect-the-dots maze, UNESCO, the IBO and NCLB are aligned in principle. UNESCO laid out the framework for NCLB, and the IBO is a model curriculum for that framework and in partnership with UNESCO, which is the U.N.’s education arm and which endorses the UDHR. (Citations here.)
The IB program gives lip-service to the right of a nation to teach about the national culture first, recognizing that most countries have state requirements. (Again, this references the two separate missions of national and international schools.)“The IB is very expensive.” PT/PF.
For example, all Utah students are required to take U.S. History. However, U.S. History is not an IB course. The IB approach deconstructs the national view and re-constructs a new world view - for example, the regional, pan-American view. In IB history a student can select a region, but it does not necessarily have to be the pan-American region. The student is only required to research a 100 year period anywhere from 1750 to current events.
The IB Theory of Knowledge course, central to the program, places all perspectives on the table and, in a relativistic way, values them equally (e.g.: “What I value as right may not necessarily be what you value as right, but your value has as much value as mine.”). Therefore, what is a terrorist to one nation is a freedom-fighter to another. All things being equal, who is to decide who is right and who is wrong?
That depends on what is being evaluated. The IB tests themselves are comparable in cost to AP tests, minus the expensive international mailing costs. However, the entire program, including professional development, facility requirements, small class size requirements, start-up costs, ongoing costs, etc. makes the IB more expensive to deliver. I went to the IBO website to order two small booklets and the total was over $300, $70+ for shipping. The most effectively run IB schools are private and have an average tuition of $25,000 per student per year. The IB pro-grams in U.S. public schools are estimated to run about 3 to 7 times as expensive as AP courses. The IB school contracts with Geneva, so the Utah State Office has not been tracking the costs.“The IB is a non-academic ‘fad’ program and many colleges and universities will not accept IB courses as fulfilling undergraduate requirements for admissions.” PT/PF.
The IB program not only tests academic rigor, it also tests the students’ attitudes and values toward the subject matter (such as global warming, population control, and sustainability, which lead to support of international, government-run programs to eradicate poverty). As mentioned before, AP courses are accepted as college credit. Only in rare instances are IB courses used for college credit.“The IB examination assessment is not thorough enough.” PT/PF.
That depends on what one considers “thorough.” The IB assessment is an open essay format, as opposed to a multiple choice format, which requires the student to be able to write about a particular topic. However, the students also know what they will be tested on in advance. The student must give politically correct answers in order to qualify for the highest descriptor scores.“The IB tests and papers of American [IB] students are sent to Europe/Geneva for grading and evaluation.” PT/PF.
The tests are not only sent to Europe/Geneva; they are sent to a number of regions of the world. The student does not know whether an examiner in Thailand or in Australia will be evaluating their essays, nor of what cultural or political persuasion that examiner will be. The answers must be written from a “neutral” position. (That in itself is an oxymoron.)
The international perspective of the IBO and its partner UNESCO embrace the Dakar Framework - Education for All - the U.N. parallel for No Child Left Behind. The Dakar Framework embraces The Earth Charter and other U.N. agreements promoting sustainability and global citizenship. Because of the partnership with UNESCO, the standard is outlined in the various protocols and agreements on human rights and sustainability. Those are the ideals to be demonstrated in the essays.
One of the most respected of leaders in global, international education is Robert Muller
, former U.N. Assistant Secretary-General and 1989 recipient of the UNESCO Peace Education Prize. He summed up the philosophy of UNESCO and its partners in a daily email I received from him just as I was concluding this “Myth v. Fact” response. (What good timing he has.)
"In the year 2000 there were 3500 days left to the year 3000. If every day produces [sic] in their skyscrapers come up with more products, more markets and more advertisements, this might mean the end of our planet if the world population is not stabilized, if the rich countries continue to increase their consumption of often needless products, needless travel, car and airplane uses unnecessarily, which might lead to disasters. So would the increase of the world's poor population by several more billions in the next decades.
"Why not come up instead with ideas to conserve our precious planet and create a just and humane society. Please, governments and all great peoples of the world, elevate your heads and your minds to do it.
"There is also need for a World Parliament of the Future, which would look as far at least as the year 3000 ahead of us. It would bring together the best visionaries, thinkers and futurologist of the planet and submit their views, fears and recommendations to the United Nations.
The decision of heads of states to meet every few years in millennium 3000 meetings is a first good step. They should also create futurologist positions and even futurology departments in all their governments.”
Thanks for reading, and for all (well, most of
) your previous comments in this IB discussion. I believe parents need to be aware of what their children are being taught.