News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Council should approve request for IB funding

The most important decision Decatur's mayor and City Council are likely to make during their tenures in office is whether to fund an International Baccalaureate program.

Initial indications are that these leaders fail to understand the IB program is more than just a change in curriculum. It transforms the learning process for students and teachers.

The most dramatic impact would be on those students who, because of family finances or limited parental education, now see education as one of many items that need to be checked off before adulthood.

IB teaching methods start with a focus on empowering students. Students help blueprint an educational process that fits their learning traits and their aspirations. As an architect of their schooling, they develop an understanding of the importance and pleasure of education.

The program also encourages students to apply their learning for the betterment of their community. Students who graduate from IB programs tend to get better jobs than their non-IB peers, but they also come to understand that they can apply their learning to the benefit of others.

The benefits of an IB program to Decatur are not just esoteric. The program would reverse the brain drain that regularly pushes those employed in Decatur to reside in Madison and Huntsville and takes the best of our youths to other cities. It is the most effective tool possible for economic development because it appeals to corporate executives who want good schooling for their own children and the children of their employees.

City Council members, confronted with Superintendent Sam Houston's request for $1.8 million this week, became territorial.

Members should compare the benefit of the IB program with the benefit from other city programs.

The City Council and the Decatur City School Board are separate entities, but they share a single duty. That duty is to serve the people of Decatur.

Decatur City Schools is willing to expend the enormous effort involved in transforming the educational process for Decatur youths. Because it has no independent taxing authority, the school board can go no further without additional City Council funding.

The City Council is under a popular mandate to squeeze the greatest benefit from every tax dollar. The costs of IB are high, but the reward is great. One day, we hope, City Council members will remember with pride their courage in supporting Decatur youths, and in making a better Decatur.

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