Friday, January 07, 2011

Bonanza Column 218 – The Real Controversy about IB

Taken at face value, the controversy over the International Baccalaureate Program (IB) in Incline schools makes no sense. A group of citizens, some with kids in the schools and some not but all of whom are concerned enough about our kids' education, took it upon themselves to research the merits of the program and work out an arrangement with the Washoe County School District to bring the program into Incline schools and fund the first three years of it. Based on that pledge, the WCSD added teachers and programs in our schools. IBIV, the group spearheading the initiative promised $150,000 to the District by the end of 2010. For a variety of reasons, they raised only $85,000 of this by the deadline, and remain committed to raising the full amount and reimbursing the District. WCSD, for its part, having hired the teachers etc., remains committed to the program and presumably will accept IBIV's IOU for the balance.

Another group of residents is vehemently opposed to IB. The reasons for their opposition don't seem to have much of a basis in the facts – AP will continue to exist alongside IB, some teachers favor IB, some don't, and the program has a clearly positive academic track record and support. This group has been vocal in its view that the WCSD is not listening to the people of the community, but has presented no clear evidence that they represent more than a small minority opinion – the support garnered by IBIV is at the very least a counterweight to the opposition, and seems to represent a larger group, though numbers are hard to come by in both cases. At any rate, the people backing IB have been willing to put up a significant amount of money in the face of a hard economy, and there is no reason to think they won't collect more. The anti-IB group keeps accusing IBIV and the District of "polarizing the community," but it seems to me that polarization takes a minimum of two views, so that responsibility has to fall as much on them as on IBIV.

Ultimately, it's the WCSD's and the Superintendent's responsibility to decide educational policy for our schools. It's appropriate and just good sense for them to take into account various views in the community, but in the end it's the professionals who should make the decisions. I want my doctor to listen to me, answer my questions, and take my thoughts and feelings into account, but in the end, I count on his medical expertise to make the final call. That's the deal with professionals – we pay them to make judgment calls based on their expertise, and they really do know more than we do – not because we're stupid or ignorant, just because they have made a career of studying their field at a higher level than we have. Presumably when the facilities experts tell the Superintendent that the plumbing in a given school needs to be replaced, he doesn't convene a committee of educators to decide if that's so – he listens to the professionals.

All the above is based on taking the controversy at face value. But when people put their personal opinion ahead of the facts and ahead of the opinions of experts, what they are saying is rarely what they are really concerned about. In a "don't confuse me with the facts, my mind's made up" argument, there is always something that is being concealed. In this case a little research on the "say no to IB" position makes it clear that their objections are not based on "what's good for the kids" but on a political agenda. Worse yet, that political agenda is as spurious as can be imagined – it's based on some nebulous fear of the UN, world government, communists, and a non-existent connection between IB and all this. They will tell you that IB is a UNESCO non-governmental organization (NGO) and that that proves it's all a plot, but they will ignore the fact that there are some 900 NGO's including the Boy Scouts, the YMCA, Rotary International, and other such organizations.

IB has shown its value in many schools in the US, none of which, as far as I know, have been taken over by the UN or by International Communism (is there still international communism?). IBIV will raise the funds or they won't, and the WCSD will act as best it can in the interests of our children's education, as they have been trained to do and as they have dedicated their lives to doing. It's time for the bickering to end.


Truth About IB said...

None are so blind as those who refuse to see.

IBO is an NGO of UNESCO. This is a FACT that is right on IBO's own website. Only left-wing loons like Ed continue to bury their heads in the sand and claim there is no political agenda because IBO's political indoctrination of students - IS THE LEFT-WING SOCIALIST AGENDA!!!

If the majority of parents supported IB, IV would have raised the money. They don't so IBIV hasn't and it's time to say UNCLE and seek an APOLITICAL educational approach which benefits ALL of the children. Give it up already. It's over.

Ed Gurowitz said...

No argument - IB is an NGO of UNESCO. So is the Knights of Columbus, as well as the organizations I've mentioned. Are thay also left-wing fronts?