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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 8, 2006
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EDITORIAL

IB program raising bar; recent criticism unfounded

The increasingly popular college preparatory curriculum known as International Baccalaureate has received some unwarranted criticism lately due to its multicultural themes and global vision.

Some school board members on Minnesota and Pennsylvania oppose the IB program because it doesn't promote a political or religious philosophy identical to their own.

IB emphasizes critical thinking and a global worldview. High school students pursuing an IB diploma study subjects from six groups: language, individuals and societies, math and computer science, the arts, experimental sciences and a second language. The core of the curriculum is a 4,000-word essay, a theory of knowledge class and a community service requirement.

Most college admissions officers view IB as the gold standard. One might equate what IB is doing for education with what ISO has done in industry: create a uniform, international standard.

Yet, due to its multicultural themes, some critics say IB is anti-Christian.

Didn't Jesus teach acceptance and inclusion of those who are different? Or has the Christian message been distorted in some churches to promote a belief that God loves Americans more than he loves anyone else?

Because the International Baccalaureate Organization is a signatory of the Earth Charter, some critics say it is anti-American.

The Earth Charter, a collection of global principles created six years ago to try to establish an ethical foundation in the emerging global community, is far from anti-American. Among the charter's 16 stated principles: build democratic societies that are just, participatory, sustainable and peaceful; strengthen democratic institutions at all levels, and provide transparency and accountability in governance, inclusive participation in decision making, and access to justice; treat all living beings with respect and consideration; promote a culture of tolerance, nonviolence and peace; and eradicate poverty as an ethical, social and environmental imperative.

The other principles, which include positions on ecology, education and gender equity, can be found at www.earthcharter

summits.org/TheEarthChar

ter.htm.

Do those principles seem anti-American?

Some oppose IB because of its cost. It is true that IB's curriculum, instruction and assessment are more expensive than more traditional instruction. Those who are unwilling to pay the extra cost for their children's education, or would rather see the money put into other programs, are right to voice opposition to IB.

But those who claim IB is anti-American and anti-Christian are just plain wrong. It is a shame that those IB opponents didn't have an opportunity to learn under the program themselves. They would certainly be more tolerant if they had.

Listen to Katie Lohrenz, 22, an IB diploma graduate now attending the University of Kansas. She told The Associated Press that IB exposed her to perspectives she might not have otherwise considered.

"I suppose bias can leak into certain topics, but for the most part you can't make psychology anti-American or math anti-American," she said.

We encourage Decatur City Schools to continue to pursue IB's honors diploma program for its high schools and to look into expanding the program to middle and elementary schools in the future.

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