Standards

N.H. Foes of IB Program Seek to Keep it Out of Schools

By Andrew Ujifusa — May 16, 2012 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

cross-posted from the Curriculum Matters blog, by Erik Robelen

UPDATED

The fast-growing International Baccalaureate program has come under fire in New Hampshire from critics who suggest it indoctrinates students. The state House of Representatives recently passed a bill that appears designed to block schools from using the program. Today, the full Senate is expected to debate the measure, though early signs suggest it won’t get the same welcome reception as in the House.

(Hat tip to a reporter at the Bedford-Katonah Patch newspaper for giving me the latest on the bill.)

So, what’s all the fuss about? It seems that a group of freshman Republicans in the state House believe the IB program, founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in the late 1960s, would violate the “sovereignty” of U.S. schools.

The bill, approved 209-102, says a school’s curriculum and instruction must promote “state and national sovereignty and is not subject to the governance of a foreign body or organization.” One way to demonstrate this infringement would be for a participating school to be called a “world school,” which just so happens to be a phrase used for schools that participate in the IB program.

For background on the rapid rise of the International Baccalaureate in recent years, check out this EdWeek story on the program, which includes courses of study at not only the high school level, but also middle and even elementary schools. Currently, more than 1,300 U.S. schools offer the IB program.

Supporters of the bill say the IB program promotes an international ideology that they find distasteful, according to a recent story in the Union Leader newspaper.

“Do you want your children to be indoctrinated to be world citizens or do you want them to be residents of this state and this country?” said Rep. Ralph Boehm, a sponsor of the bill, according to the newspaper. (You can watch a video of Boehm speaking in favor of the measure here.)

Supporters of the bill also raise concerns about the IB program’s connection to the United Nations. (The Union Leader story notes that according to the IB website, the program has been recognized as a nongovernmental organization of UNESCO since 1970.)

The New Hampshire Tea Party has been a strong backer of the measure. In a recent blog post, it said the bill “will bring back local control. There is no excuse for a foreign political group to be directing education in New Hampshire’s schools.”

But the IB program, currently used in just two New Hampshire schools, one public and one private, appears to have a lot of supporters, including many students, parents, and educators in the state.

Those backers not only dismiss claims of global indoctrination, but are making the issue one of local sovereignty, an argument that is likely to be especially appealing in New Hampshire, the Union Leader story notes.

“If you would want to strip and usurp the authority of a local school board, ... then we need to come up with a new motto for our license plates [other] than ‘Live Free Or Die,’ said Bedford High School junior Michael Courtney, at a hearing.

In fact, Courtney, one of the main organizers of a campaign to defeat the bill, has posted a video on Youtube called Save IB in NH.

“This is much bigger than saving the IB ... curricula,” he says in the video. “This is about local control. This is about Bedford deciding what is best for Bedford’s citizens, not the state.”

John R. White, a New Hampshire resident who testified at the May 1 education committee hearing (and whose daughter previously studied in an IB program), offered an impassioned speech defending the program. You can watch it here.

“The opposition to IB would be hilarious were it a skit on ‘Saturday Night Live’ or a Stephen Colbert comic rant,” he said. “But coming as it does from people elected to do the public business in the hallowed halls of Concord, it is frightening. The assertion that the IB is somehow an international plot fomented by the United Nations to undermine national loyalty and cause the disintegration of liberty in the United States is a preposterous notion.”

He added: “IB emphasizes critical thinking and writing skills. It insists on scholarship. It offers vibrant programs in language, history, and mathematics, hardly the stuff of subversion.”

UPDATE

As my colleague Erik Robelen reported, on May 16 the New Hampshire Senate rejected the bill from the House that would have barred districts from using IB. But will lawmakers in other states pick up the anti-IB banner next year with legislation in their own states? Stay tuned.

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Standards Opinion How the Failure of the Common Core Looked From the Ground
Steve Peha shares insights from his on-site professional-development work about why the common core failed, in a guest letter to Rick Hess.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Standards Opinion Common Core Is a Meal Kit, Not a Nothingburger
Caroline Damon argues Rick Hess and Tom Loveless sold the common core short, claiming the issue was a matter of high-quality implementation.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Standards How New Common Core Research Connects to Biden's Plans for Children and Families
A study of national test scores indicate the early phase of the Common Core State Standards did not help disadvantaged students.
5 min read
results 925693186 02
iStock/Getty
Standards Opinion After All That Commotion, Was the Common Core a Big Nothingburger?
The Common Core State Standards may not have had an impact on student outcomes, but they did make school improvement tougher and more ideological.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty