Sunday, May 4, 2008

John Tyler HS (Tyler ISD) Withdraws from International Baccalaureate


Officials at Tyler ISD have determined that it is best to withdraw John Tyler High School (JTHS) from the IB-Diploma program. The other high school in Tyler ISD, Robert E. Lee, will remain in the program. It is worth looking at the reasons enumerated by Tyler ISD officials as to why International Baccalaureate was not successful.

In the past 10 years, only 41 students at JTHS completed the IB Diploma program. Wow! I'd love to see the cost per IB Diploma graduate ... particularly since Tyler ISD concedes that the IB Diploma Programme is not any more academically rigorous than the Advanced Placement program:


Ms. Harper, who will become the AP coordinator, said the AP program will "have the same rigor the IB program did."

Even though AP and IB are equal in their academic rigor, there are reasons to choose AP over IB. Ms. Harper suggests that IB had been a program for "just a select few" whereas AP is "able to reach a lot more students". (You know, I wonder if that is the genesis of the characterization of IB as elitist. Why in the world would you want to place barriers in front of kids willing to take academically rigorous classes? Unfortunately, I've never been too sensitive to accusations of elitism. A person has to be a downright snob before I'd notice.)

Tyler ISD also noticed just how expensive IB is. By eliminating IB, Tyler ISD will be able to fund (1) the AP Program; (2) A dual credit program at UT-Tyler; and (3) some sort of Career and Technology Education program. Remember that Pearland ISD is simultaneously increasing IB funding as it considers cuts in career technology programs.

Tyler ISD tells us why the IB Diploma Program wasn't popular among its students. (1) IB-Diploma is not at "flexible" as AP; (2) IB-Diploma "can limit students' ability to participate in extracurricular activities; and (this one is really strange) (3) IB-Diploma forces students to "basically give up [their] normal high school life". I'm not sure what the last disadvantage articulated by Tyler ISD means, but I'm a big advocate in letting kids be kids.

Given that IB-Diploma isn't any more rigorous than AP and that it is significantly more expensive, I really can't explain why it remains at Robert E. Lee High School. Nevertheless, the Tyler paper tells us that the local community has a lot of pride in the program.

I'm going to use a metaphor I used once before. Some people view IB as some sort of designer label. (Who wouldn't want a "World School"?) But upon closer inspection, IB-Diploma isn't any more rigorous than the AP program. Also, AP reaches more students. Yes, many people see IB as some sort of designer label for the district. To me, it is more like the Emperor's New Suit. I've always been comfortable in a pair of Levi's.


While the IB-Diploma program is equivalent in academic rigor to the AP Program, my personal observations lead me to conclude that Pearland ISD has seen a decline in academic rigor as it implements the IB-Primary Years Program. In the past, Pearland ISD has had ability-grouped advanced classes. These classes have been eliminated.

In math, my son's private school 2nd grade class is multiplying with fractions and dividing three-digit numbers by one-digit numbers. He actually takes a science class for a grade -- science doesn't even appear on a Pearland ISD 2nd grade report card. I recently saw one of the former Carleston parents who has moved to Friendswood ISD in pursuit of a rigorous curriculum. Their kid is also learning division. What is Pearland ISD doing? A kid from Carleston's so-called "GT Cluster Class" spent the night this weekend. The so-called "GT Cluster Class" hasn't even started learning multiplication tables.

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Political Activism and International Baccalaureate

There is an alarming number of incidents involving IB students and political activism. Here, in reverse chronological order, are a few examples:

May 1, 2008
St. Helena, CA
Students march for "peace" (picture above)


District officials have said the international theme of the "Umbrellas for Peace" program was consistent with their adoption of the International Baccalaureate program, which teaches students how to be a part of a global community.

While these kids decorated "Umbrellas for Peace" and marched around, my kid was actually learning about another culture. He gets a grade in social studies ... my recollection tells me that social studies isn't even on the 2nd grade report card at Pearland ISD.


April 23, 2008
Texarkana, TX
Students protest against retail stores using disposable bags on Earth Day

Dressed in bright red, yellow, green and blue hats and shirts, College Hill International Baccalaureate students sang and performed skits Tuesday for Earth Day at the Downtown Post Office.

The second-grade classes, as part of a worldwide project called 'Pay It Forward,' decorated grocery bags with earth-related messages for Albertson's on State Line Avenue.


Again, my kid was in science class actually learning something as these kids went on a political protest.


April 18, 2008
Aurora, CO
Students participate in "Lights Out" campaign against "climate change"

The halls of Smoky Hill High School were dark on Friday, but it was not because of an electrical problem.

Students there decided to participate in the National Lights Out program. It was all to raise awareness for energy conservation. The classrooms and hallways were dark for the day as classes continued. The lights were kept on in areas where there weren't any windows...

The National Lights Out idea was organized by Junior Maria Rayas as a part of the International Baccalaureate program at Smoky Hill.

While these kids were learning to be political activists in the dark at school, the lights were on and science class held at my kid's school. Which school do you think is more likely to produce a political activist? Which school do you think is more likely to produce an engineer who will find a technological breakthrough that allows people to keep the lights on *AND* conserve energy through efficiency?