International Baccalaureate (IB) Unraveled


Information herein addresses the question: “What is International Baccalaureate?” Commonly called “IB,” the acronym refers to the three programs currently authorized by the Geneva-based International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). IB programs promote a particular kind of “international education” that is marketed for use in primary and secondary schools worldwide. This paper is to inform about some of the less publicized aspects that should be considered before local, state, and federal policy and financial support are established for IB; and before parents enroll their children in these programs.

Debra K. Niwa, March 2010, Tucson, Arizona





 (NOTE: The PDF version contains active links with the Endnotes)


Part 1: More money-sucking reform?

           IB’s #1 cash cow: U.S. public education; Paying more for what?;

           Severing local prerogatives; Dominating a school; IB is unnecessary.

           Figure 1: IB Programs in the U.S.

           Figure 2: IB World Schools in the U.S.

           Figure 3: IB Diploma Program pass rates in the U.S.


Part 2: A tangled web 

          Threads in the development of IB; Current UN links.

           Figure 4: SCANS (Three-part Foundation & Five Competencies)


Part 3: New spin on old ideas

           Radical transformation; Lifelong education;

           IBO meddles with national curriculum.


Part 4: Shaping values

           Whose values?; What values?; Semantic deception; Old ideas,


Part 5: IB Diploma Program

           IB Diploma Program (IBDP) curriculum model;

           Core components -- Community, action, service (CAS),

           Extended Essay, Theory of Knowledge (TOK).


Part 6: Transformation

           United Nations vs. United States; Peace = social justice?

           Closing remarks




International Baccalaureate (IB) Unraveled

Part 1: More money-sucking reform?


By Debra K. Niwa • July 2009 (updated March 2010)

 (Note: British English spellings are retained for quoted sources)


The growing presence of International Baccalaureate (IB) Programs in the United States warrants a close look at this education model that among its goals includes teaching for “global citizenship,” [1] “intercultural understanding and respect,” and “social justice.” Substantial taxpayer dollars are spent on IB programs that strain school budgets, sever local prerogatives, incite divisiveness in communities, and alter the content and purpose of education. Is IB necessary or justified?


Three IB offerings are available for school adoption: the Diploma Program (DP) for ages 16 -19; Middle Years Program (MYP) for ages 11-15; and Primary Years Program (PYP) for ages 3-12. Among all nations, the U.S. has the most sites with the IB World School label. The breakdown of IB authorizations in the U.S. is: 694 Diploma Programs; 336 Middle Years Programs; and 200 Primary Years Programs (as of March 29, 2010). [2]


A fourth program is in a pilot phase: the International Baccalaureate Career-related Certificate (IBCC). IB introduced this idea “to help achieve its strategic aim of increased access” and “to work with, and support, schools and colleges that wish to add an international dimension to their vocational offerings.” The IBCC was “designed to provide 'value added' for schools and other educational institutions” that offer vocational courses.” [3] Ten schools worldwide are pilot participants. Study completion is expected by September 2011. While unstated, the IBCC will complement the Convention on Technical and Vocational Education adopted by the UNESCO General Conference on November 10, 1989. [4]


IB’s #1 cash cow: U.S. public education


Multi-millions of local, state, and federal tax dollars pay for IB Programs in 47 states plus the District of Columbia. Almost 93% of the 1,095 IB World School sites in the U.S. are in public schools,[5] yet programs are often adopted without general public knowledge or taxpayer approval. If the IB authorization rate continues, the IBO expects a worldwide tally of “10,000 schools and 2.5 million students enrolled in IB programmes by the year 2020.” (Emphasis added) [6]



Fig. 1: IB Programs in the U.S.: 1,230



(as of March 29, 2010)

694 Diploma Programs (introduced in 1969)

336 Middle Years Programs (introduced in 1994)

200 Primary Years Programs (introduced in 1997)


Note: Some sites have more than one

program which accounts for the difference

between school totals vs. program totals.


Fig. 2: IB World Schools in the U.S.: 1,095



Totals by state (as of March 29, 2010):


 17  Alabama        4  Nebraska

  2  Alaska         5  Nevada

 18  Arizona        1  New Hampshire

 12  Arkansas      18  New Jersey

113  California     2  New Mexico

 67  Colorado      59  New York

  7  Connecticut   52  North Carolina

  3  Delaware       0  North Dakota

104  Florida       24  Ohio

 50  Georgia        4  Oklahoma

  5  Hawaii        21  Oregon

  4  Idaho         17  Pennsylvania

 33  Illinois       1  Rhode Island

 21  Indiana       47  South Carolina

  1  Iowa           0  South Dakota

  5  Kansas        17  Tennessee

  5  Kentucky      94  Texas

  7  Louisiana     11  Utah

  3  Maine          0  Vermont

 33  Maryland      68  Virginia

 11  Massachusetts 19  Washington

 28  Michigan       1  West Virginia

 35  Minnesota     13  Wisconsin

  9  Mississippi    3  Wyoming

 13  Missouri          ————————

  2  Montana        5  District of Columbia



The added revenue needed for IB – particularly the two-year Diploma Program -- can reach generous six-digit amounts for numerous requirements. To start, schools pay application process fees that involve three stages that must be successfully completed: “a feasibility study (where teachers and administrators undertake IB-approved professional development); a trial implementation period of at least 12 months, during which the school will be visited and supported by an IB representative; and an authorization visit, where a judgement is made about the extent to which the school is suitably prepared to offer the programme.” [7]


After authorization, a school then pays a per program annual fee, per student registration fees each year, and fees for 2-3 consecutive-day in-school workshops (per capita fee, administration fee, and meeting leader(s) daily rates plus expenses, including “travel, visa costs, single hotel accommodation, meals, and any other expenses the leaders incur for the duration of the event.” [8]). For the IB DP, there are also annual student fees per subject and per examination. For the MYP, there is a Program Evaluation Fee required every four to five years.


IB fees can change often and increase substantially. For example, the 2­­­­008-2009 per school annual fee for the Diploma Program was $9,150 [9] – $300 more than the prior year; for 2009-2010 the fee was $9,600, reflecting a $450 hike. The 2009-2010 annual fee for the Middle Years Program is $8,000 and the Primary Years Program is $7,000 – higher than the prior year’s fees by $1,380 and $380 respectively. [10] 


In addition to fees, the Diploma Program adds new staff positions -- including salary/benefits for an IB coordinator, “Community Action Service” (CAS) supervisor and Extended Essay supervisor. Also added are extra costs for: IB instructional materials, meetings (release time and substitute teachers), postage, and out-of-state/country training and conferences (tuition, airfare, lodging, meals, etc.), marketing, and recruiting.


Grants may initially cover some expenses, but when those funds expire, the annual burden falls on local and state taxpayers. This scenario is also common to other grant-seeded programs that allow school district administrators to bypass local scrutiny and approval when bringing in outside programs. While school districts can and have dropped IB programs, the more common strategy is to increase local and state taxes.


The 2008 IB North America Action Kit for Educational Leaders says: “In the United States, schools wishing to implement IB have access to a number of federal grants to help defray costs for the programmes. If a school qualifies, a key funding opportunity comes from [ESEA] Title I funds for schools with low-income populations.” The kit also says: “Other federal grants to research for funding opportunities include”:


         • The Magnet Schools Assistance Program

         • AP Test Fee Program

         • GEAR UP

         • Advanced Placement Incentive Program

         • Smaller Learning Communities Program

         • Academic Competitiveness Grants.” [11]


To provide an idea of IB’s added cost, consider that Arizona’s Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) has thus far spent $939,000 on IB (Arizona Daily Star, 2/1/10 [12]). One location offers IB -- a Diploma Program at a magnet high school that is in its second year of implementation. IB DP classes began with the 2008-2009 school year. There were 42 juniors and no seniors. [13] In 2009-2010 there are 32 seniors. Not all IB students are “Diploma Candidates”; some are simply taking one or more IB classes. Amid district-mandated budget cuts for TUSD schools as well as ongoing proposals for school closures, the district plans to put IB in more schools and bring in other budget-busting programs that will require multi-millions of extra revenue dollars. [14]


Paying more for what?


With increased IB Diploma Program authorizations and student participants, the percentage of IB Diploma Candidates who receive the IB Diploma has declined in most states since 2005 as compared with 2008 (Fig. 3). [15] Also during that period, many states show decline in the percentage of IB exams awarded a score of 4 or above. [16] This impacts IB students seeking college transfer credits. Higher education policies tend to require IB Diploma holders to achieve a score of 4 or above (on a 7 point scale) in order to receive college credit. Generally only IB DP “high level” (HL) courses are considered for credit.



Figure 3: IB Diploma Program

pass rates in the U.S.*



*States not listed did not have IB Diploma Programs

during the surveyed  years (Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire,

North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont) or were

missing data for 2008. In 2006, IBO stopped releasing

certain information for states with 4 or fewer schools,

which includes data for the number of DP candidates

and % DP pass rates.

     No. schools with    No. of DP      % DP

      Diploma Program   candidates    pass rate

          2005 2008  2005  2008  2005  2008

Alabama      5    7   117   166   66%   67%

Arizona      6   10   186   279   80%   67%

California  59   68  1213  1665   72%   68%

Colorado    16   21   670   870   81%   80%

Florida     40   49  3163  3714   78%   77%

Georgia     18   20   442   521   61%   68%

Illinois    16   16   270   381   47%   40%

Indiana      5   14    60   177   85%   68%

Maryland    14   19   155   227   70%   70%

Michigan     4    8   130   198   92%   89%

Minnesota   11   12   155   227   79%   70%

Missouri     8    8   112   190   83%   74%

New Jersey   8    9   157   188   78%   81%

New York    25   35   630   904   68%   70%

N. Carolina 21   23   452   538   69%   56%

Ohio         8   13    69   191   71%   63%

Oregon      12   14   279   415   84%   69%

Pennsylvania 7   12   107   241   78%   61%

S. Carolina 20   25   161   315   72%   55%

Texas       24   32   515   964   79%   67%

Utah         4    7    63   120   78%   52%

Virginia    32   35   829  1112   81%   73%

Washington  13   14   251   460   79%   74%

Wisconsin    5    9    83   182   52%   49%


Data source: IB North America’s Profile of Diploma Programme

Test Takers, Examination Review & Data Summary, for May 2005

(Table 15, p.12;) and 2008 (Table 33, p.30).



Severing local prerogatives


Local communities pay for school district management and elect board members to govern. But when a school adopts IB (or any program from an outside vendor), the control over the content and purpose of education is transferred to private interests.


Governance over (IB) curriculum, teacher training, and assessments is in the hands of the Geneva-based International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), a nonprofit Swiss Foundation under Swiss law. [17] The International Baccalaureate Curriculum and Assessment Center -- located in Cardiff, Wales (United Kingdom) -- handles “Curriculum development, Assessment development, Examination administration, Web services: Online Curriculum Centre, Curriculum support, IBNET and IBIS, [and the] On line curriculum center (OCC).” [18]


Each IB Program has two legal documents that “set forth the relationship” the IBO has with: 1) IB World Schools (Rules for IB World Schools), and 2) an IB student and their legal guardian (General Regulations). The rules and regulations are under Swiss jurisdiction. Disputes are settled in Geneva, Switzerland “by one arbitrator in accordance with the Swiss Rules of International Arbitration of the Swiss Chambers of Commerce.” [19]

NOTE: A new International Baccalaureate global center is expected to open September 2010 at The Hague, Netherlands. IB staffs from Cardiff, Wales and Geneva, Switzerland are “being encouraged to relocate from their current offices.” [20]


Dominating a school site


Adoption of IB affects an entire school site. At the high school level, IB does not have to be the sole curriculum but the expectation is that “it must be made very clear that the programme does have a major role to play in the school and that the intrinsic values espoused by the IB DP are relevant to the whole school, are firmly embraced by the published school mission statement (or equivalent) . . ." [21] All IB DP schools are required “to embrace and to espouse the importance of developing certain international values in students, especially a strong sense of international awareness, intercultural understanding, tolerance and compassion. Candidate schools for the DP must recognize from the start that this goes far beyond holding the traditional annual United Nations Day celebrations . . ." (Emphasis added) [22]


IB is unnecessary


Costly theme concoctions like IB are not needed. Where desire exists, public schools can provide an exceptional academic foundation without IB. For example, this has been achieved at University High School (UHS) in Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) in Arizona. UHS has a well-implemented Advanced Placement program and is one of the district’s lower funded high schools. [22] Student accomplishments are many and UHS has repeatedly had the most National Merit Scholar Finalists out of all public and private schools in the state. Most graduates are awarded scholarships. UHS has a student selection process mostly based on academic criteria, logic and cognitive abilities. “Diversity” has played a role in some admission considerations.


Regardless of exceptional student achievements (academic and otherwise), there have been on-and-off maneuvers to stir interest in IB as well as alter UHS in ways that hinder maintaining a strong academic foundation. Tapping into an existing high achieving student body would make the IB Diploma Program look good, but would not provide greater academic benefits. Upholding the integrity of UHS is an ongoing battle. Change agent superintendents have wanted to reform ALL district schools, even those that successfully educate. Attempts to alter strong academic schools by introducing programs like IB should signal an alarm about the wayward intentions behind school reform.


Continue to Part 2

© Debra K. Niwa, July 2009 (updated March 2010)



[1] Boyd Roberts, The role of heads in leading on the “global dimension,” IB World Heads Conference, Sevilla, Oct. 15, 2009. Accessed 2/15/10. Also see: Speech by former IB director general George Walker: “Educating the global citizen,” The British Schools of the Middle East conference, Jan. 31, 2007

[2] Country information for United States, IB web site. Accessed 3/29/10. < >

[3] What is the International Baccalaureate Career-related Certificate (IBCC), IBO web site. Accessed 2/17/10.

[4] Convention on Technical and Vocational Education, adopted by the UNESCO General Conference, 25th Session, Paris, Nov. 10, 1989. Accessed 11/15/05.

[5] Percentage is based on the number of authorized IB school locations in the United States as of 2/22/10.

[6] International Baccalaureate Annual Review 2007, IBO, 2008, p.8. Accessed 3/28/09.

[7] Mary Hayden and Jeff Thompson, International schools: growth and influence, Fundamentals of Educational Planning – 92, UNESCO: International Institute for Educational Planning, Paris 2008, p.72. Accessed 4/18/09.

[8] Guidelines for PYP In-school Workshops in IBAEM, IB, no date, p.2.

[9] Section F. Fees, IB Diploma Program, IB web site. Accessed 2/24/09.

[10] Annual school fees (valid 1 September 2009 to 31 August 2010). IBO web site.

[11] “Frequently Asked Questions,” Action Kit for Educational Leaders, IB North America, 2008, p.4. Accessed 3/10/09.

[12] "TUSD vows adherence to plan amid skepticism," Alexis Huicochea, Arizona Daily Star, Feb. 1, 2010. Accessed 2/1/10.

[13] “Test of Time,” Focus, Tucson Unified School District, Jan. 2009, p.4. Accessed 2/35/09.

[14] In The Tucson Unified School District Post-Unitary Status Plan (As Adopted by Governing Board, July 30, 2009) the following are identified as part of the districts’ "First Choice Schools" strategy that will "require school communities to transform themselves into well-defined centers of 21st Century learning": "OMA Gold Schools, International Baccalaureate Schools, Artful Learning Schools, International Schools, Ron Clark–inspired Schools, Disney–inspired Schools, Zoo Schools, Reggio Emelia Schools, Marc Prensky–inspired Schools, Montessori Schools, and more." (p.7).

[15] Based on a comparison of data from IB North America’s Profile of Diploma Programme Test Takers: Examination Review & Data Summary, 2005, Table 15, p.12.

Examination Review & Data Summary, 2008, Table 33, p.30. Accessed 7/9/09.

[16] “Article 14,” IBO's Rules for IB World Schools: Diploma Programme, IBO, Aug. 2007, p.5.

[17] International Baccalaureate North America Orientation Seminar: Introduction, International Baccalaureate Organization, 2006-2007, pdf p. 15-16.

[18] The Rules for IB World Schools and The General Regulations for IB World Schools, IBO web site. Accessed 9/6/09.

[19] “2009 International Baccalaureate (IB) chooses The Hague in the Netherlands,” City of the Hague press release, July 9, 2009. Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency web site.

[20] Implementing the IB Diploma Programme, A practical manual for principals, IB coordinators, heads of department and teachers, Cambridge University Press, 2004, p. 17.

[21] Ibid., p. 13-14.

[22] The Annual Report for the Arizona Department of Education, Fiscal Year 2006-2007 reports the TUSD per pupil average expenditure is $9,171; the University High average is $4,477. Seven district high schools were higher than UHS by as much as $1,598 per student; two high schools were lower by as much as $575 per pupil. (January 2008, pp. V-82-V-90). Accessed 7/22/08.



International Baccalaureate (IB) Unraveled

Part 2: A tangled web


By Debra K. Niwa • September 2009 (updated March 2010)

 (Note: British English spellings are retained for quoted sources)


International Baccalaureate’s connection to the United Nations is an often-cited criticism that is generally denied by IB supporters at local levels. What are the facts?


In 2001, Dr. Ian Hill, then Deputy Director General of the IBO, explained in “Curriculum development and ethics in international education” (Education for Disarmament, 2001):


“. . . the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) was developed appropriately and largely by the staff of the first of the international schools during the 1960s with the first official examinations in 1971. (Two other international programmes are now offered: since 1992 the Middle Years Programme for students from 11 to 16 years of age, and since 1997 the Primary Years Programme for children from 3 to 11/12 years of age.) UNESCO provided financial and moral support for the development of international curricula until the mid-1970s.” (Emphasis added) [1]


An old, now unavailable, "History of the IBO" web page stated:


The IBO was funded by Unesco, the 20th Century Fund, and the Ford Foundation until 1976. From 1977 the Heads Standing Conference (HSC) of Diploma Programme (DP) schools was formed and they began to pay the IBO an annual registration fee. . . .” (Accessed Jan. 29, 2005)


Note: UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) was founded in 1945 as a UN special agency. It succeeded the International Institute for Intellectual Cooperation of the League of Nations.


Threads in the development of IB


1924: International School of Geneva (a.k.a. Ecole Internationale de Genéva, or Ecolint) is founded under the League of Nations Charter [2] “by a group of parents predominantly from the League of Nations [est. 1919] and the International Labour Office [est. 1920]” [3] to educate the children of League of Nations delegates.


1947: United Nations International School (UNIS) is founded in New York. UNIS became an IB world School in January 1971 [4] and was one of seven pilot sites for IB trial examinations that began in 1968.


1948: A UNESCO handbook titled Techniques d’education pour la paix. Existent-elles? (Is There a Way of Teaching for Peace?) by Marie-Thérèse Maurette, then-director of the International School of Geneva, is published. In September 2005 at the Biennial Conference of IB Nordic Schools held in Stockholm, Sweden, IBO’s George Walker presented Maurette’s ideas:


“First of all, Maurette . . . urges her teachers to play down the whole concept of nationality, either as a source of pride or of pity. Let’s avoid all sentimentality, she says.

“She then argues the case for a new kind of geography which puts the students into contact with the whole world before they ever see a map of their own country. . . . She had equally radical ideas about history which, she insisted, should not be taught before the age of 12 if it was to avoid becoming a gallery of dubious national heroes. For the next six years it should become world history with events in India, China, Japan and the Middle East synchronized with those in Europe. . . . .”

“Maurette then insists upon the acquisition of two working languages: . . . (Once someone uses two languages he uses two modes of thought. And then he understands the other person’s way of thinking. He is no longer surprised or hostile. And from understanding and familiarity comes agreement: a spirit of internationalism is born.)

“She then describes ways of encouraging students to keep up to date with contemporary political and economic events, and alumni of that period . . . I suppose we would now call it ‘current events’ . . .

“Finally, she turns to the importance of human solidarity, saying that it depends on habits of mutual support and community action and she goes on to describe the IB CAS programme 20 years before it ever happened, . . .” (Emphasis added)

Walker highlights Maurette’s “legacy to the IBO”:

“Mme Maurette attacks on all three curriculum fronts: compulsory, extra and hidden realizing that each part must reinforce the others; there must be a consistency of message. But I particularly admire her courage in attacking the compulsory curriculum. ‘It’s not going to be any old history course; it’s going to be this special kind of history’ and that, of course, is her legacy to the IBO and it is no coincidence that the IB Diploma Programme grew out of a syllabus and an examination called Contemporary World History.” [5]


1949: UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) convenes the Conference of Internationally-minded Schools (CIS) [6]


About CIS: According to Lesley F. Snowball at an International Organization of Education Conference “Preparing teachers for a changing context,” May 3-6, 2006: “The Conference of Internationally-Minded Schools of 1949-1969 (Hill, 2001) attracted support from national as well as international schools, . . . and could be regarded as the first promoter of the concept of an international education certificate for teachers.” Snowball says that due to globalization, “It is clear that curricula should include peace studies and conflict resolution, interdependence and intercultural communication, human rights and social responsibility, world issues and problem-solving skills, with an overall aim of developing students who are not only internationally-minded but internationally-hearted.” [7]


1951: International Schools Association (ISA)--“was established at UNESCO in Paris . . . as a non-governmental international organization for the development of co-operation among its member schools and with all those interested in promoting international understanding” [8] by Ecolint parents employed in UN organizations. [9] Russell Cook from the UN’s World Health Organization chaired the ISA for 18 years (1952-1970). The ISA “is the most senior organization in the world of international education” and is “an international non-governmental organization and the first educational NGO to be granted consultative status at UNESCO.” [10] ISA received “three succesive [sic] contracts by Unesco to study practical ways of harmonizing curricula and methods for the development of international understanding.” [11]


1961: A few Ecolint staff developed interest in “an international examination that would be acceptable to more than one ministry of education.” [12]


1962: United World Colleges (UWC) is created as “a new and unique model for global citizenship education.” [13] In a monograph by Andrew Mahlstedt -- “Global Citizenship Education in Practice: An Exploration of Teachers in the United World Colleges” -- the author notes “the important role that AC [United World Colleges of the Atlantic –Ed.] played” in the creation of IB: “Alec Peterson, before becoming the first director of the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) and one of the key developers of the IB, had previously helped to develop the formal curriculum at AC.” [14]


1964: International Schools' Examination Syndicate (ISES) -- predecessor to the IBO – is created with a three-year grant from the Twentieth Century Fund that was given to the ISA “to establish machinery for the development of a common curriculum and examination programme for the international schools.” [15]


1967: International Baccalaureate Office is created and in 1968 the group is registered in Geneva, Switzerland. [16]


1968: IB trial examinations begin. Seven pilot sites are involved: United Nations International School (UNIS), Atlantic College (Wales, UK), International School of Geneva (Switzerland), International College (Beirut, Lebanon), International High School (Copenhagen, Denmark), Iranzamin International School (Teheran, Iran), and North Manchester High School for Girls (UK). [17]


The following individuals are listed as “Key People” in the History of the IBO:


 “Desmond Cole-Baker -- Director International School of Geneva (Ecolint), 1961-1968”

 “John Goormaghtigh -- Director of the European Office of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Treasurer of ISA, 1957-62; Chairman of the Board of the International School of Geneva, 1960-66; Founding President of the IBO Council of Foundation, 1968-81”

 “Bob Leach, Ruth Bonner, Gérard Renaud, Nansi Poirel - staff International School of Geneva (Ecolint)”

 “Alec Peterson -- Director of Department of Education, Oxford University Oxford Research Unit, 1967-74” [18]


Current UN links


The United Nations is involved with IB teaching material, including input and approval of “two teaching booklets about UN global issues: one each for primary and secondary years” The U.N. holds the copyrights for the booklets that are for distribution “to the governments of all member states for use in schools.” (IBO web site, accessed 1/20/06) [19]


According to the IB web site: "The IB has been recognized as a NGO of UNESCO since 1970 and currently has the status of 'formal consultative relations as a network' with UNESCO. IB representatives participate regularly in UNESCO meetings and comment on UNESCO proposals in education. Some projects have received UNESCO funding . . ." [20]


The UNESCO Constitution says the UNESCO Executive Board grants "consultative relations" status to a non-governmental organization (NGO) if such a group is "useful for the achievement of the objectives of UNESCO" (3.1) and can give "proof of their ability . . . to contribute effectively by their activities to the implementation of UNESCO's programme." (3.2) [21] Stated conditions for a group to be an NGO include:


"(a) it shall be engaged in activities in one or more specific fields of UNESCO's competence, and it shall be able and willing to make an effective contribution to the achievement of UNESCO's objectives, in conformity with the principles proclaimed in UNESCO's Constitution" (2.2). (Emphasis added)


Obligations, cited in 7.1 (a), for an organization to maintain formal consultative relations include (emphasis added):


     (i) keep the Director-General regularly informed of those of their activities that are relevant to UNESCO's programme and of the assistance given by them to the achievement of UNESCO's objectives;

     (ii) acquaint their members, by all the means at their command, with those UNESCO programme activities and achievements that are likely to interest them;

     (iii) at the Director-General's request, give advice and provide assistance in connection with consultations on the preparation of UNESCO's programmes, and in connection with UNESCO's inquiries, studies or publications falling within their competence;

     (iv) contribute, by their activities, to the execution of UNESCO's programme and, as far as possible, include in the agenda of their meetings specific items relating to UNESCO's programme;

     (v) invite UNESCO to be represented at those of their meetings whose agenda is of interest to UNESCO;

     (vi) submit to the Director-General periodic reports on their activities, their statutory meetings and the support they have given to UNESCO's action;

     (vii) contribute substantially to the preparation of the sexennial report by the Executive Board to the General Conference on the contributions made to UNESCO’s activities by non-governmental organizations, . . .

     (viii) send representatives, as far as possible at the highest level, to the Conference of International Non-Governmental Organizations...


NGOs  (non-governmental organizations) play a crucial role in the UN system. These groups are the footsoldiers that help with the implementation of UN initiatives. A March 7, 2008 UNESCO Executive Board document highlights the NGO role:


“ . . . UNESCO very early on asked leading international NGOs – which it had itself sometimes established – to help it defend universal values and implement its programmes. These relations were gradually consolidated, organized and diversified to become the foundation of an enduring partnership in an environment transformed by globalization. Today, some 300 officially accredited international organizations are involved. . . . This history [to be discussed April 2008 in the “History and stories of partnership between UNESCO and NGOs”–Ed.] will include some recent, detailed examples of successful partnerships which illustrate how NGOs in partnership with UNESCO have contributed to the implementation of one of its programmes, or even to its main lines of action or the definition of one of its objectives.” (Emphasis added) [22]


Continue to Part 3

© Debra K. Niwa, September 2009, updated March 2010.



[1] Ian Hill, Deputy Director General of the IBO, "Curriculum development and ethics in international education," Disarmament Forum, Education for Disarmament, 2001, No.3, p.50. United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research. Accessed 11/25/05.

[2] Andrew Mahlstedt, “Global Citizenship Education in Practice: An Exploration of Teachers in the United World Colleges,” International Comparative Education, School of Education, Stanford University, August 2003, p.1. Accessed 3/27/06.

[3] History of the IB – Timeline, 1968 Diploma Programme. IBO web site. Accessed 3/9/09.

[4] United Nations International School, IBO web site. Accessed 3/3/09.

[5] George Walker, “What have I learned about international education?,” Biennial Conference of IB Nordic Schools, Stockholm, Sweden, Sept. 9, 2005, p.7-8. Accessed 3/7/09.

[6] History of the IBO, powerpoint presentation, IBO. No date. Accessed 3/15/09.

[7] Lesley F. Snowball, “Internationalism in Teacher Certification and Professional Development,” IoE Conference: Preparing teachers for a changing context, May 3-6, 2006.

[8] “The International Schools Association,” Educational Innovation and Information, September 1999, No. 100, ISSN: 0259-3904, International Bureau of Education, UNESCO, p.2. Accessed 3/20/06.

[9] History of the IBO, powerpoint presentation, IBO. No date. Accessed 3/15/09.

[10] International Schools Association web site. Accessed 3/15/09.

[11] Girard Renaud (Director, International Baccalaureate Office in Geneva), Experimental period of the International Baccalaureate: objectives and results, Study prepared for the International Bureau of Education, Experiments and innovations in education No. 14, Unesco Press, Paris, 1974, p.4.

[12] James Keson, The International Baccalaureate: Its Development, Operation, and Future, March 1976, p.7.  

[13] Andrew Mahlstedt, “Global Citizenship Education in Practice: An Exploration of Teachers in the United World Colleges,” International Comparative Education, School of Education, Stanford University, Aug. 2003, p.2. Accessed 3/27/06.

[14] Ibid, p.11. Accessed 3/27/06.

[15] Girard Renaud (Director, International Baccalaureate Office in Geneva), Experimental period of the International Baccalaureate: objectives and results, Study prepared for the International Bureau of Education, Experiments and innovations in education No. 14, Unesco Press, Paris, 1974, p.4.

[16] History of the IB, Diploma Program, IBO web site. Accessed 8/31/09.

[17] History of the IBO presentation, IBO. No date.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Inter-governmental organizations and IBO partnerships, IBO web site. Accessed 1/20/06

[20] “The IB in partnership with governments and inter-governmental organizations,” IBO web site. Accessed 3/5/09.

[21] UNESCO Constitution (2004 version). UNESCO web site. Accessed 8/15/2005.




International Baccalaureate (IB) Unraveled

Part 3: New spin on old ideas


By Debra K. Niwa • July 2009 (updated March 2010)

 (Note: British English spellings are retained for quoted sources)


International Baccalaureate Programs focus on “outcomes” and use theories and practices that hail from the progressive/humanistic grab bag of ideas that have plagued education since the 18th century. [1] While relatively contained until recent decades, similar concepts now appear under the heading of “constructivism.” [2] These contestable ideas have become more widespread with increased outside meddling in local and state education affairs. [3]


International Baccalaureate programs may superficially appear to be a remedy for academic decline, but IB focuses on many “affective” goals (values, attitudes, and behaviors) that follow along the same continuum that instigated and resulted in the widespread decline of U.S. education. (For details, see the deliberate dumbing down of america . . . A Chronological Paper Trail by Charlotte T. Iserbyt. < > Also go to the American Deception web site to find important and rare documents pertinent to changes in education, < >; see the Education category).


Radical transformation


In 1985, Charlotte Iserbyt wrote about “the social engineers’ continuing efforts, paid for with international, federal, state, and tax-exempt foundation funding, to manipulate and control Americans from birth to death using the educational system as the primary vehicle for bringing about planned social, political, and economic change.” Iserbyt said, “ . . . you will recognize the key roles played by the behavioral psychologists, sociologists, educationists, and others in bringing about this planned change — through the radical transformation of America’s classrooms from places of traditional cognitive/academic learning, where intellectual and academic freedom flourish, into experimental laboratories for psychological (attitude and value) change, using modern technology (the computer for individualized instruction and for administrative management systems) in conjunction with the totalitarian theories of Professor B. F. Skinner and other less well-known social engineers.” (Emphasis added) (Back to Basics Reform, 1985 < > ) [4]


IB programs are in sync with the “radical transformation of America’s classrooms.” IB uses pedagogy that includes Constructivist, Student-Centered, Cooperative Learning, Inquiry based Instruction, Experiential Learning, Scaffolding, and Differentiation [5] -- to support IB promotion of international-mindedness and to mold students into agents of social change.


The IB definition of International-mindedness is “expressed through the IB learner profile.” [6] The IB mission statement -- which first appeared in the Primary Years Program but now applies to all IB Programs [7] -- was “translated into a set of learning outcomes for the 21st century” referred to as the IB learner profile. The profile was developed “to serve as a guide line for behavior” [8] and it includes: Inquirers, Knowledgeable, Thinkers, Communicators, Principled, Open-minded, Caring, Risk-takers, Balanced, and Reflective. [9]


IB learning outcomes are similar to those already found in U.S. school reforms. The federal and state departments of education and public school districts promote the ideas under headings like workplace skills, soft skills, life skills, behavior skills, “21st Century Skills.” etc. – that constitute a Profile of Learning, or Profile of a 21st Century Student (or graduate), or more recently identified in the Framework for 21st Century Learning. [10]


Value, attitude and behavioral goals became more widespread in public schools during the 1980s and 1990s decades. School superintendents, administrators, and governing boards nationwide were jumping on the bandwagon to use a method called mastery learning, later renamed outcome-based education (OBE). The use of which has continued under labels such as standards-based, competency-based, or performance-based education.


William Coulson, Ph.D., pointed out a longer historical trail when he opined that OBE “is just the latest label for what began as the child study movement, became the mental hygiene movement and progressive education; then life adjustment, classroom encounter and sensitivity training; humanistic education, values clarification, youth decision making, critical thinking, mastery learning and cooperative learning.” [11]


During the early 90’s, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) compiled a list of predominantly non-academic outcomes (Fig. 4). [12] The result was a redefining of “basic skills” that would alter school focus. A 1995 Report of the NASBE School-to-Work Study Group -- Framework for the Future: Creating a School-to-Work System for Learning, Livelihood, and Life -- explained:


Redefining Basic Skills—In 1990-91 the U.S. Department of Labor Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) brought together a broad range of educators, researchers and public and private sector leaders to identify and define the skills needed in the workplace of the late 20th century. The final report of the Commission identified what it termed the ‘workplace know-how’ of ‘competencies’ and ‘foundation skills’ that workers in the high-performance workplace need to be successful.

 “SCANS commissioners intended that states and school districts . . . could use this information to ensure that these skills were imbedded in curricula and integrated into performance standards and assessments . . . [involving all] American education, including colleges. . . .” [14]


Note that while the entire U.S. education system is being restructured to integrate non-academic SCANS (a.k.a. global citizenship or IB Learner Profile) objectives, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Skills and Tasks for Jobs -- A SCANS report for America 2000 contained “A NOTE OF CAUTION TO EMPLOYERS”:


“Employers should be careful to conduct their own in-house research to verify the applicability of SCANS competencies and foundations to their jobs. Although the job analyses reported here were carefully conducted and produced reliable results, they cannot automatically be applied to particular jobs in specific organizations.” [15]




Figure 4: SCANS

Source: What Work Requires of Schools: A SCANS Report for America 2000,  The Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills, U.S. Department of Labor, June 1991, p. xvii – xviii. [13]



Basic Skills: Reads, writes, performs arithmetic

and mathematical operations, listens and speaks

A.  Reading — locates, understands, and interprets written information

     in prose and in documents such as manuals, graphs, and schedules

B.  Writing — communicates thoughts, ideas, information, and messages

     in writing; and creates documents such as letters, directions, manuals,

     reports, graphs, and flow charts

C.  Arithmetic/Mathematics — performs basic computations and

     approaches practical problems by choosing appropriately from a

     variety of mathematical techniques

D.  Listening — receives, attends to, interprets, and responds to

     verbal messages and other cues

E.  Speaking — organizes ideas and communicates orally

Thinking Skills: Thinks creatively, makes decisions, solves

problems, visualizes, knows how to learn, and reasons

A.  Creative Thinking — generates new ideas

B.  Decision Making — specifies goals and constraints, generates

     alternatives, considers risks, and evaluates and chooses best alternative

C.  Problem Solving — recognizes problems and devises and implements

     plan of action

D.  Seeing Things in the Mind’s Eye — organizes, and processes

     symbols, pictures, graphs, objects, and other information

E.  Knowing How to Learn —uses efficient learning techniques to

     acquire and apply new knowledge and skills

F.  Reasoning—discovers a rule or principle underlying the relationship

     between two or more objects and applies it when solving a problem

Personal Qualities: Displays responsibility, self-esteem,

sociability, self-management, and integrity and honesty

A.  Responsibility — exerts a high level of effort and perseveres

     towards goal attainment

B.  Self-Esteem — believes in own self-worth and

     maintains a positive view of self

C.  Sociability — demonstrates understanding, friendliness,

     adaptability, empathy, and politeness in group settings

D.  Self-Management — assesses self accurately, sets personal goals,

     monitors progress, and exhibits self-control

E.  Integrity/Honesty — chooses ethical courses of action


Resources: Identifies, organizes, plans, and allocates resources

A.  Time — Selects goal-relevant activities, ranks them, allocates

     time, and prepares and follows schedules

B.  Money — Uses or prepares budgets, makes forecasts, keeps,

     records and makes adjustments to meet objectives

C.  Material and Facilities — Acquires, stores, allocates, and

     uses materials or space efficiently

D.  Human Resources — Assesses skills and distributes work

     accordingly, evaluates performance and provides feedback

Interpersonal: Works with others

A.  Participates as a Member of a Team — contributes to group effort

B.  Teaches Others New Skills

C.  Serves Clients/Customers — works to satisfy customers’ expectations

D.  Exercises Leadership — communicates ideas to justify position,

     Persuades and convinces others, responsibly challenges existing

     procedures and policies

E.  Negotiates — works toward agreements involving exchange of,

     resources resolves divergent interests

F.  Works with Diversity — works well with men and women from

     diverse backgrounds

Information: Acquires and uses information

A.  Acquires and Evaluates Information

B.  Organizes and Maintains Information

C.  Interprets and Communicates Information

D.  Uses Computers to Process Information

Systems: Understands complex inter-relationships

A.  Understands Systems — knows how social, organizational,

     and technological systems work and operates effectively with them

B.  Monitors and Corrects Performance — distinguishes trends,

     predicts impacts on system operations, diagnoses deviations in

     systems’ performance and corrects malfunctions

C.  Improves or Designs Systems—suggests modifications to existing

     systems and develops new or alternative systems to improve performance

Technology: Works with a variety of technologies

A.  Selects Technology — chooses procedures, tools or equipment

     including computers and related technologies

B.  Applies Technology to Task — Understands overall intent

     and proper procedures for setup and operation of equipment

C.  Maintains and Troubleshoots Equipment — Prevents, identifies, or solves

     problems with equipment, including computers and other technologies.



Today, the SCANS foundation and competencies are marketed as “21st century skills” to supposedly prepare U.S. students for the global economy, global workforce, and global competitiveness. What eludes discussion is an explanation of how developed countries like the U.S. will compete with the lower wages of other nations. [16] I’m going to digress here, but it is important to think about the bottom line. While U.S. public education is being restructured for a global market, a growing list of U.S. jobs are being outsourced to other nations and foreign white collar workers are being hired who are accustomed to lower salaries. How will U.S. teaching wages, for example, compete with the lower salaries in other nations?



Teacher Salaries - International Comparison



Source: IMPORTANT: This is a partial list of

 information (accessed 3/22/10). Please go to

< > for more details.


                         Net Monthly Income  Compulsory  Weekly

Country                   constant 2005 US$  Deductions  Hours

U.S. average salary         PPP $ 4,055    23%     36.6

UK median salary            PPP $ 3,075    29%     32.5

Germany average salary      PPP $ 3,065    35%     40.0

Australia average income    PPP $ 2,793    22%     39.1

Korea average salary        PPP $ 2,643    11%     39.7

Norway average income       PPP $ 2,573    33%

Japan average salary        PPP $ 2,518    17%

France median salary        PPP $ 2,483     0%

Canada average income       PPP $ 2,238    30%     31.1

Finland average salary      PPP $ 1,936    32%     36.4

Portugal average salary     PPP $ 1,797    21%     24.4

Austria average salary      PPP $ 1,537    25%     40.0

Italy average salary        PPP $ 1,441    27%

Thailand average salary     PPP $ 1,216     6%     38.0

Kuwait average income       PPP $ 1,207     0%     36.0

Peru average salary         PPP $ 1,097    15%

Philippines average salary  PPP $ 1,069    14%  

Czech Republic avg. income  PPP $ 1,042    25%     37.9

Mexico average income       PPP $ 1,018    13%     38.0

Poland average income       PPP $ 1,013    32%     25.0

Hungary average salary      PPP $   918    36%

Latvia average income       PPP $   804    28%     31.4

Lithuania average salary    PPP $   788    28%     29.4

Brazil average income       PPP $   745    10%     22.3

Slovakia average income     PPP $   706    22%     31.1

Romania average salary      PPP $   588    30%     38.8



IB World schools outside the U.S. have encountered a predicament where -- in order to attract teachers from developed nations -- foreigners are paid more than local counterparts. [17] This, of course, reflects poorly on IB World Schools that are suppose to be promoters of social justice.


Lifelong education


Before the IB Learner Profile and SCANS appeared, the emphasis on non-academic goals was expressed in the context of “lifelong education” -- found in numerous UNESCO publications. In Towards a conceptual model of life-long education published in 1973 by UNESCO, [18] author George W. Parkyn says: "A comprehensive model for life-long education needs to start with two basic dimensions: first, the span of a human lifetime, and second, the range of human behaviour" (p.19)


He adds that lifelong education requires a "radical changes in the structures, functions, methods, and content of education systems at all levels . . . " (p.15) and the focus of childhood and adolescent education should "aim at producing not educated people but educable people". . . "people who are adaptable in changing circumstances, who realize the provisional nature of knowledge, the tentative nature of decisions, and the need for constant evaluation of the results of their actions. . ."(p.17)


Parkyn says that the lifelong education concept underlies all of UNESCO's educational action and that the publication studies that began in 1971 were conducted to “outline a possible model for a system based on the ideal of a continuous educational process throughout the lifetime of the learner” and “if possible, indicate the means for bringing an existing national school system into line with life-long learning.” (p.3)


IB programs, in addition to many other “innovative” education reforms, align with lifelong education/learning principles and are a vehicle for spreading the concept globally.


IBO meddles with national curriculum


“The IBO will continue to work with Governments

to influence their national curriculum”

-- George Walker, March 10, 2002 [19]


In 2004 the “high level” Strategic Plan of the International Baccalaureate Organization was published. This document “defines the direction of the organization as well as broad goals for 2014." [20] Included are plans to strengthen regional offices (p.15); establish a “consultancy capability” to “ collaborate with state systems of education in the development of national programmes" (p.15); "cultivate major donors and supporters" to "secure long-term commitments" to support the work of IB (p.16); and more.


Part of the IBO planned growth strategy is "To broaden access purposefully…" so that "by 2014, there will be one million students experiencing the IB, drawn from increasingly diverse economic, social and cultural backgrounds." (p.4).  The International Baccalaureate Annual Review 2007 quotes higher figures: “10,000 schools and 2.5 million students enrolled in IB programmes by the year 2020” if the IB authorization growth trend continues at the same rate. [21]


The IBO produced a publication for 2009-2010 that encourages the use of IB to access ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) federal funds. The publication says IB “offers states and school districts the opportunity to meet ARRA priorities through a continuum of programmes from cradle to career...” [22]


In the United States there is concerted behind-the-scenes effort to gain recognition and support for IB. Advocacy includes policy changes to support IB curriculum, higher education recognition for the IB Diploma, scholarships for IB Diploma holders, and state funding to help cover IB costs (exam fees, teacher training, and bonuses). IBO even suggests hiring a lobbyist to “shepherd through the legislative process.” [23]


 Continue to Part 4

© Debra K. Niwa, July 2009 (updated March 2010)



[1] For a “Definition: Progressive Education,” go to The Progressive Living Glossary. Progressive Living web site. Accessed 7/12/08. < >

NOTE: Mortimer Alder (mentioned in the "Definition of Progressive Education") wrote the Paidea Proposal which Charlotte Iserbyt explains was “an educational ‘innovation’ used to introduce the concept of charter-type schools into mainstream school reform along with humanistic emphasis on subject matter. Alder was also one of the most visible facilitator for the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies (established in the 1940’s) which has trained most of our government leaders in the dialectical process of reaching consensus. While Alder did not live to respond to the break up of the former Soviet Union, his interim vision of the formation of a ‘union of socialist democratic republics’ bears watching.” (Source: the deliberate dumbing down of america...A Chronological Paper Trail, Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt Third printing, 2001, p.281) Free pdf download: < >

 [2] Find out more about constructivism at the Constructivist Education web page that discusses “the Constructivist Approach and Constructivism in the context of education.” < >. For critiques on constructivism--see: “A Critical Look at Constructivist Pedagogy,” Kevin Blissett, May 30, 2009. and “Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching,” Paul A. Kirschner, John Sweller, Richard E. Clark, Educational Psychologist, 41 (2),75 –86, 2006.

 [3] Outside meddling in local schools is supported by a number of factors, including:

1) Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 [ESEA] whose ongoing Congressional reauthorization (currently called the No Child Left Behind Act) usurps local prerogatives by dangling federal funding carrots for reform.

2) U.S. Department of Education -- and state Departments of Education which often function as long arms of the U.S. Dept. of Education -- promotes progressive, humanistic (a.k.a. constructivist) policies as well as initiatives that support public-private partnerships and the privatization of the U.S. public schools.

3) Presidential Executive Order 12803 which encourages privatization of U.S. infrastructure assets that are “financed in whole or in part by the Federal Government and needed for the functioning of the economy.” The Order defines privatization to mean “disposition or transfer of an infrastructure asset, such as by sale or by long-term lease, from a State or local government to a private party.” Assets cited include “roads, tunnels, bridges, electricity supply facilities, mass transit, rail transportation, airports, ports. waterways, water supply facilities, recycling and wastewater treatment facilities, solid waste disposal facilities, housing, schools, prisons, and hospitals.” Executive Order 12803 - Infrastructure Privatization was signed by President George H.W. Bush on April 30, 1992. (Source: John Woolley and Gerhard Peters, The American Presidency Project [online]. Santa Barbara, CA: University of California (hosted), Gerhard Peters (database). Available from World Wide Web. Accessed 11/24/06. < > )

 [4] Charlotte T. Iserbyt, Back To Basics Reform, Or…OBE International Curriculum?, 1985, Published by the Barbara M. Morris Report, p.1-2. A pdf version is available from the Deliberate Dumbing Down web site:

[5] “International Baccalaureate and LAUSD’s Interested Schools Group; Curriculum, Instruction, and Educational Equity Committee,” Los Angeles Unified School District, Feb. 12, 2009. Accessed 7/5/09.

[6] Leanne Cause, “Fostering inclusive and ethical intercultural relations: The International Baccalaureate, international mindedness and the IB learner profile,” International Conference on Migration, Citizenship and Intercultural Relations, November 19-20, 2009, Deakin University Australia, p.1. Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation. Accessed 11/14/09.

[7] Carol Adamson, Ph.D., “The Structure of World History in the International Baccalaureate Program,” p.2. Accessed 9/2009  

[8] Monique Seefried, “Scholastic Communities and Democracy: The Role of Ethics in International Education”, IB Africa/Europe/Middle East regional conference speech, Oct. 2006, p. 10. Accessed 8/31/09.

[9] IB learner profile booklet, IBO, Nov. 2008 (updated Jan. 2009). Accessed 8/28/09

[10] Framework for 21st Century Learning, Partnership for 21st Century Skills web site. Accessed 8/31/09.

[11] William Coulson, “Outcome Based Education,” FWR Journal, Spring 1994.

< >

[12] For more information, see Tangled Web, Joe Esposito, 2004, p. 54-55.

< >; School-to-Work (now School-to-Careers) is SCANS, Joe Esposito, Jan. 30, 1998, pdf p.9-12. Also see All Children Left Behind?, Debbie Niwa, 2004. < >

[13] What Work Requires of Schools: A SCANS Report for America 2000, The Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills, U.S. Dept. of Labor, June 1991, p.xvii–xviii. Accessed 3/15/03. Document also available from ERIC (Educational Resource Information Center)

[14] Framework for the Future: Creating a School-to-Work System for Learning, Livelihood, and Life, Report of the NASBE School-to-Work Study Group, National Association of State Boards of Education, 1995, p.10. Accessed 12/17/05.

[15] Skills and Tasks for Jobs—A SCANS report for America 2000, The Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills, U.S. Department of Labor, 1992, p. I-11. Accessed 3/15/03.

[16] For an international comparison of wages, go to the International Average Salary Income Database, World Salaries web site.

[17] Mary Hayden and Jeff Thompson, International schools: growth and influence, Fundamentals of Educational Planning – 92, UNESCO: International Institute for Educational Planning, Paris 2008, p.56. Accessed 4/18/09.

[18]  Towards a conceptual model of life-long education, George W. Parkyn, UNESCO, Paris, France, 1973. English Edition, ISBN 92-3-101 1174, French Edition ISBN 92-3-201117-4.

[19] George Walker, IBO Director General, “A new partnership for Africa,” Concluding remarks, Africa/Europe/Middle East conference, Nairobi, Kenya: Mar. 10, 2002. Accessed 9/6/09.

[20] Strategic Plan of the International Baccalaureate Organization, April 2004, Vers. 1.0 - Approved by the Council of Foundation. Accessed 3/13/06.

[21] International Baccalaureate Annual Review 2007, IBO, 2008, p.8. Accessed 3/28/09.

[22] The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA): Capitalize on Federal Education Funding Opportunities with the International Baccalaureate (IB), International Baccalaureate Organization, 2009-2010.

[23] A Look at North American IB Legislation: 2006—2007, IBO; Current IB Legislative and Education Policies (as of August 2005), IBO; A Look at North American IB Legislation, (no date), 



International Baccalaureate (IB) Unraveled

Part 4: Shaping values


By Debra K. Niwa • August 2009 (updated March 2010)

 (Note: British English spellings are retained for quoted sources)


“We believe at the IB that values are very much a part

of the education process, and therefore should be considered

a fundamental part of the whole educational experience.”

-- Jeffrey Beard, IB Director General, “Where the IB is heading,” 2006. [1]


International Baccalaureate programs – as with other reform models -- focus on the “whole child,” including emotional and social aspects. Personal issues such as attitudes and values become subject to non-negotiable IB dictates. The President of the IB Council of Foundation, Monique Seefried, has stated:


“As an organization, the International Baccalaureate is an independent organization and an organization of choice. No school has to take on our programmes, and if they do, they choose to embrace our values and to abide by them. If they don’t, they don’t need to belong to our communities of schools. ...” (Emphasis added) [2]


Seefried notes, “The theme of values, ethical or moral values, has been a recurrent theme in international gatherings of educators and politicians and is prominently included in Article I of the 1990 World Declaration on Education for All” (EFA) which says: “3. Another and no less fundamental aim of educational development is the transmission and enrichment of common cultural and moral values. It is in these values that the individual and society find their identity and worth.”  [3]


(Note: Five U.N. intergovernmental agencies helped with the 1990 global launch of Education for All: UNESCO, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP and the World Bank. Assistance also provided by “various foundations, international and non-governmental organizations and the mass media.” [4])


A gammut of personal issues is wide open to IB influence. In 2006, Dr. Peter Vardy delivered a “Values Education” presentation at the IBO International Conference in Hanoi where he said: 


"The IBO needs to stand for a broader approach and, in particular, it needs to engage with

              1) Religious beliefs

              2) Ethics and values

              3) Issues of truth” [5]

 “The IBO is international – it needs to deal with values and issues of truth in different cultures and across the curriculum. Papers like ‘The Theory of Knowledge’ are an excellent starting point – but we need to go further.

 “Helping young people to ‘become fully human’ is something that the IBO can foster – if, of course, the leadership is there to confront the challenges that will come from the relativists and the fundamentalists.” [6]

"We need to be helping our young people to be compassionate, caring, ethical individuals.

This will mean helping them to make a distinction between what is

              -- Right and Wrong,

              -- Just and Unjust,

              -- True and False,

              -- Good and Evil" [7]


Whose values?


The International Baccalaureate Organizations’s A Continuum of International Education (2002) identifies the source of IB’s values:


“In developing an awareness of the diverse values of different cultures, it is, however, fundamental that students in each IBO programme are exposed to those human values which are recognized as universal; these are embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948.” [8]


What values?


Dr. Ian Hill, wrote in "Curriculum development and ethics in international education" (Education for Disarmament, 2001):


“We [IBO] are concerned then with forming attitudes and values. IB students give much time to world issues, . . . . This is not only due to the general global approach of the curriculum, but above all to the requirement of ongoing social service among the community which is considered as important for the development of the students as academic studies. In short, it is an education for life, a responsible life, open to the problems of our world and encouraging students to give time and energy to bring about change.” (Emphasis added) [9]


Hill cites “desirable universal values” found in a 1996 Report to the UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century. Titled Learning: The Treasure Within (a.k.a Delors Report) by Jaques Delors et al., the publication highlights the following values:


• awareness of human rights combined with a sense of social responsibilities;

• value of social equity and democratic participation;

• understanding and tolerance of cultural differences and pluralism;

• a caring, co-operative and enterprising spirit;

• creativity;

• sensitivity to gender equality;

• open-mindedness to change; and

• obligation to environment protection and sustainable development. [10]


Note: Jacques Delors (born July 20, 1925) is an important figure in the development of the European Union. He “is a French economist and politician, who served three terms as President of the European Commission (January 1985-December 1994). During his presidency, he oversaw important budgetary reforms and the introduction of a single market within the European Community, which came into effect on January 1, 1993.” (Biographybase) [11]


More detail about “desirable universal values” appear in the Delors Report subsection titled “Universal cultural values to be cultivated by education for global ethics” [12] which contains the following [emphasis added]:


  Awareness of human rights combined with a sense of social responsibilities. Caution is taken that rights are not separated from duties, that the concept of human rights is not imposed from a Western ethnocentric perspective but related to cultural traditions and national/regional contexts, and that the rights of individuals are linked to those of the collectives.

  Value of social equity and democratic participation in decision-making and government, which will be the ‘central objective in all parts of life’.

  Understanding and tolerance of cultural differences and pluralism, which is a precondition of social cohesion, peaceful co-existence and conflict-resolution by negotiation instead of force, and ultimately of world peace.

  A spirit of caring, a ‘keynote value for future education’, and an intrinsic quality of human compassion, which should be extended not only to the family members and colleagues, but to all the disadvantaged, the sick, the poor and the disabled, for the well-being of humankind and our planet.

  Co-operative spirit. While competition can be observed in all spheres of daily life, co-operation is all the more necessary. As Jacques Delors observes: ‘The world is our village . . . . Solidarity has to be the order of the day: each of us must bear his own share of the general responsibility.’

  Enterprising spirit, a quality which is needed not only for economic productivity and competitiveness but for all life situations.

  Creativity, which will always be needed for technological advances, social progress, economic dynamics...

  Sensitivity to gender equality, which has been recognized as ‘the key to development and poverty alleviation’, and ‘both a gateway to development and a measure of that development’.

  Open-mindedness to change, which will be the only thing which will not change, and the attitude not only to accept change but to act as an agent of positive change.

  Sense of obligation to environment protection and sustainable development, so as not to create economic, social and ecological debts for future generations.


Semantic deception


While “desirable universal values” may be high-sounding, be aware that semantic deception is a hallmark of collectivism. This is explained by Alexandre Cretzianu in a 1956 book Captive Rumania--a decade of soviet rule (emphasis added):


“On the one hand there is the oblique use of the accepted Western vocabulary by the communists, and on the other hand there is the essential difference, under a communist regime, between legal provisions and their implementation, A striking instance of this is provided by the Constitution of the so-called Rumanian People's Republic. That Constitution unambiguously proclaims almost all the essential principles of political liberty, and the guarantees of individual security, to be found in the most advanced Western Constitutions. In practice, however, not one of these liberties is available to the people; not one of these guarantees protects the citizen. 

 “Communists explain such contradictions by pointing out that the liberties and guarantees provided in the Constitution must necessarily be contingent upon the interests and security of the state. . . .” [13]

 “Under a communist dictatorship, laws set forth obligations for the citizen; they provide for no restraints upon the absolute liberty of action of the state, which is the supreme goal. This basic conception must at all times be borne in mind by the reader, in order to grasp the full import of our studies.

 “Such terms as liberty, democracy, law, right, security, when used by communists, acquire a meaning wholly at variance with their proper definition. In most cases, they become utterly void of content. Such terms then become mere propaganda expressions, empty appeals to the hesitant conscience of the Westerner. They are used because they are attractive to a citizen of the free world, lulling him into a feeling of security and lowering his resistance to the seductions of communist propaganda.” [14]


Note: I highly suggest reading Captive Rumania. Notice the parallels between the social, economic, and political transformations written about that nation vs. the changes occuring in the U.S. today. One point to highlight -- related to so-called “desirable universal values” -- is the emphasis on democratic participation (for decentralized decision-making) that occurs using “people's councils (soviets).” These councils were integral to the “people's democracies” of at-the-time Soviet European satellites. [15] The councils give the “illusion” of civic participation and decision-making; in practice they are vehicles to “build consensus” for predetermined goals. Council decisions hold no weight unless they align with the strategic plans originating from higher levels.


Old ideas


“Desirable universal values,” endorsed by the United Nations and promoted by International Baccalaureate, began slipping into U.S. education under various school reforms, including what were being called “new basics”.  Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt wrote about these “new basics” in her 1985 booklet titled Back to Basics Reform . . . or O.B.E Skinnerian International Curriculum? This was an important early alarm for what was in planning for the education system in the United States. Iserbyt wrote:



Harold G. Shane, writing in the September, 1976 Phi Delta Kappan, describes his version of the “new and additional basic skills,” which is accepted by leaders in the education/reform/effective school movement, when he says,

 “Certainly, cross-cultural understanding and empathy have become fundamental skills, as have the skills of human relations and intercultural rapport…the arts of compromise and reconciliation, of consensus building, and of planning for interdependence become basic…”

Shane also said,

 “As young people mature we must help them develop …a service ethic which is geared toward the real world…the global servant concept in which we will educate our young for planetary service and eventually for some form of world citizenship … implicit within the ‘global servant’ concept are the moral insights” (through values clarification, i.e., higher order critical thinking skills, discussed later. --Ed.) . . . “that will help us live with the regulated freedom we must eventually impose upon ourselves.” [16]


In 2002, author Beverly Eakman, wrote about the “new values” that “educators are trying to instill” (Comment: Aren’t some of these a distillation of some of the “desirable universal values” found in the Delors Report? --Ed.):


"Here is a seven-point list, given to educators in North Carolina at an in-service workshop:


There is no right or wrong, only conditioned responses.

The collective good is more important than the individual.

Consensus is more important than principle.

Flexibility is more important than accomplishment.

Nothing is permanent except change.

All ethics are situational; there are no moral absolutes.

There are no perpetrators, only victims.


Notice that all of the items on this list involve no particular issue; rather, they reflect ethical ‘outcomes’ that a child is supposed to ‘internalize.’. . . ” [17]


Collectivist “desirable universal values” have been slipping into U.S. education not only through IB Programs, but under other headings like (new, redefined) “basic skills,” “workplace skills,” “life skills,” and variations on the theme of “21st Century Skills” that were discussed in the previous section (Part 4).


Continue to Part 5

© Debra K. Niwa, August 2009 (updated March 2010)



[1] Jeffrey Beard, IB Director General, “Where the IB is heading...” speech, IB Asia-Pacific regional conference, Hanoi, Vietnam, Oct. 6-7, 2006.

[2] Monique Seefried speech, “Scholastic Communities and Democracy: The Role of Ethics in International Education,” IB Africa/Europe/Middle East regional conference, Oct. 2006, p. 9. Accessed 8/31/09.

[3] Ibid, p.11.

[4] Outcomes on Education, United Nations web site. Accessed 8/31/09

[5] Dr. Peter Vardy, “Values Education,” IBO International Conference – HANOI 2006, Asia Pacific Regional Conference, slide 6. Accessed 10/12/07.

[6] Ibid., slide 64.

[7] Ibid., slide 66.

[8] A continuum of international education: the Primary Years Programme, the Middle Years Programme and the Diploma Programme, IBO, 2002, p.10. Accessed 6/10/08.

[9] Ian Hill, Deputy Director General of the IBO, "Curriculum development and ethics in international education," Disarmament Forum, Education for Disarmament, 2001, No.3, p.51. United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research. Accessed 11/25/05.

[10] Ibid., p.52.

[11] Jacques Delors Biography, Biographybase web site.

[12] Zhou Nanzhao, “Interactions of education for economic and human development: an Asian perspective,” published in Learning: The Treasure Within, Jacques Delors et al, Report to the UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century, Published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Paris, France, 1996, pdf p.77-78. Accessed 12/8/05.

[13] Captive Rumania -- a decade of soviet rule, edited by Alexandre Cretzianu, 1956, Frederick A. Praeger, Inc., p. xii (Introduction). Accessed 12/2/09. < >

[14] Ibid., p. xiii

[15] Ibid., p. 398

[16] Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, Back to Basics Reform . . . Or OBE Skinnerian International Curriculum?, 1985, published by The Barbara M. Morris Report, p.13. Download pdf version, see p.11: < >

[17] Beverly K. Eakman, “Bushwhacking Johnny,” Chronicles, Sept. 2002, pp. 41-43. Accessed 10/18/02.



International Baccalaureate (IB) Unraveled

Part 5: IB Diploma Program


By Debra K. Niwa • July 2009 (updated March 2010)

 (Note: British English spellings are retained for quoted sources)


“Young people need to feel first of all global citizens, second national citizens and third local citizens. Among my generation, it is the other way round. Change will be difficult, but schools are already thinking about curriculum changes.”

-- “IB is showing the way,” IB World, May 2008 [1]


The two-year International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) is the fastest growing of the three IB offerings. While the IBDP is being adopted in U.S. public-funded high schools, IBDP curriculum is out-of-sync with state graduation requirements with regard to certain subjects. Compared to non-IB peers, IB Diploma candidates in the U.S. receive less exposure to U.S. History, the U.S. Government, and Western Classics. This begs the question: why is the IBDP allowed in public-funded schools? This brings up another issue: With increasing percentages of Diploma Candidates failing to receive an IB Diploma (see Part 1), what happens to those students? In Arizona, such students in public high schools receive the diploma issued by the high school that hosts the IB Diploma Program.


IB Diploma Program (IBDP) curriculum model


The IB Diploma Program “curriculum model” consists of three core components: Theory of Knowledge (TOK), Extended Essay, and Community, action, service (CAS). “Additional subjects” include six study areas:

         Group 1: Language A1

         Group 2: Second Language

         Group 3: Individuals and Societies

         Group 4: Experimental Sciences

         Group 5: Mathematics and Computer science

         Group 6: Arts


IBO has said it “...require[s] all students to relate first to their own national identity--their own language, literature, history and cultural heritage, no matter where in the world this may be.” [2] But how is this achieved when IB is weak in those areas? 


“In IB we Trust?,” writer Liam Julian describes his high school IB literature experience in : "… literary merit wasn't in the mind of those who created the reading lists in my IB English classes; multiculturalism and gender concerns were.” [. . .] ". . . those Western classics that form the foundation of our literary canon—The Sun Also Rises, The Grapes of Wrath, The Scarlet Letter — were absent. So, too, the poetry of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. Literature that had stood the test of time was sacrificed for contemporary works that addressed immediate cultural or feminist struggles." Julian adds, "The absence of Western classics is not merely frustrating; it's a serious and inexcusable omission that deprives students of an essential piece of cultural currency. And it's particularly disgraceful to forgo teaching such important works because of dubious diversity concerns." [3]


In a 2007 review of the IB History of the Americas, the Fordham Institute said, “The IB does not offer a U.S. history course, but for students studying world history at the higher level, instructors can teach an Americas option, which covers U.S., Latin American, and Canadian history. Lucien Ellington took a look at the Americas option for us to see if it could potentially serve as a model U.S. history course for American high school students. He argues that this option contains some good information, but because it includes much more than U.S. history, the course inevitably slights important topics, events, and people that all U.S. high school students should know.” [4]


Despite shortcomings, some districts claim IB is sufficient. The Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) 2008-2009 Course Description Catalog says IB History of the Americas for Grade level 11 “is equivalent to a full credit in both American History & Government.” [5] However, the district’s Cholla High Magnet School IB web page says: "Since several courses are unique to our area, students may be required to attend summer school or have an extended school day. These courses are PE, Health and United States Government. . . ." [6]


U.S. History and U.S. Government used to be required in all U.S. public high schools. But some districts put those subjects under a broad heading called “social studies.” As such, U.S. Government and U.S. History are diluted as with the IB History of the Americas class. Or U.S. History is offered from an ethnic viewpoint. For example, the TUSD Course Description Catalog includes “social studies” subjects such as American History-Hispanic Studies, American History-African American Perspectives, and American History-Native American Perspectives.


In 2007, Mathematics Professor David Klein evaluated IB documents for the Mathematics SL curriculum. [7] His grade for the course: “B” for Clarity, “C” for Content, and “D” for Rigor (Mathematical Reasoning). In conclusion, Klein says in part:


“. . .  Two strengths of the Mathematics SL course are its breadth of coverage and focus on problem solving skills. For those students for whom this is the last mathematics course ever to be taken, the curriculum is well chosen. It provides a glimpse into several parts of mathematics along with some practical skills, especially in the area of statistics.”

“On the other hand, if a student intends to take more mathematics courses at the university level, it is not clear how that student should be placed. What university mathematics courses have as prerequisite a small amount of calculus, but no exposure to complex numbers, almost no geometry, a spotty background in trigonometry, a smattering of linear algebra, and a good bit of statistics? Perhaps more statistics courses. The heavy reliance on calculators and virtually no memorization of formulas add to the deficits.”

     “In fairness to the IBO program, highly motivated students follow the more rigorous HL syllabus. While far more complete, and mathematically advanced, as noted previously there are nevertheless some gaps even at this level. . . .”


With regard to math and science, at-the-time IB student William Song remarked in “AP vs. IB: Which Should You Take and Why?”: “In terms of difficulty, I would say that AP is slightly more difficult, whereas the workload for IB is significantly greater. Having looked through AP Physics C and AP Calculus BC texts, I can attest to the fact that these courses cover more difficult material than the equivalents of IB Physics HL and IB Mathematics HL. . . .” [8]


IB DP core components


At the heart of the IB DP curriculum model are these three core components: Community, action, service (CAS); Theory of knowledge (TOK), and the Extended Essay.


Community, action, service (CAS)

IBO explains, “Students are expected to be involved in CAS activities for the equivalent of at least three hours each week during the two years of the programme [150 hours total –Ed.]. Each school appoints a CAS supervisor who is responsible for providing a varied choice of activities for students. Programmes are monitored by IB regional offices.” (Emphasis added) [9]


The notion of engaging in volunteer work and extra-curricular activities already exists in the U.S. under the prerogative of students and parents. Many would agree that volunteerism can benefit individuals and communities. On the other hand, regulated, monitored, mandatory activity -- as with IB’s Community, action, service (CAS) -- is a different beast. Miguel A. Faria, Jr. identifies the roots of compulsory service in his article “National Service – 'Compassion Fascism' by Any Other Name”:


“National Service and compulsory Community Service have their roots in authoritarianism and collectivism – e.g., the Total State of Benito Mussolini (compassion fascism), the Soviet Communism of Lenin and Stalin, Nazi Germany (Hitler Youth), the Little Red Book of Mao-Tse-Tung (the Red Guards), and in my native Cuba, the Young Pioneers of dictator Fidel Castro.” [10]

Faria opines:

 “Rather than engendering a sense of true philanthropy and charity, as is the case with volunteering for good works carried out disinterestedly by churches, synagogues, voluntary associations and other benevolent institutions of society, National Service and school-based (compulsory) Community Service teaches students to conform and to surrender personal liberty.

It's not by chance that Karl Marx's eighth plank of the Communist Manifesto promulgates ‘equal liability of all to labor,’ and the 10th plank, the establishment of industrial armies and the combination of education with labor for industrial production.”


On-and-off attempts have been made for nearly a century to establish national service in the United States. [11] Today, some U.S. public schools mandate community service in order to graduate from high school. [12] As a program component, the IB DP’s CAS requirement sneaks in compulsory service.


The Extended Essay (EE)

“[S]tudents are required to undertake original research and write an extended essay of 4,000 words (maximum). . . The IBO recommends that a student devote a total of about 40 hours of private study and writing time to the essay.” (School’s Guide to the Diploma Program, IBO, 2002). The extended essay “is an in-depth study of a focused topic chosen from the list of approved Diploma Programme subjects —normally one of the student’s six chosen subjects for the IB diploma. It is intended to promote high-level research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity.” [13] Diploma candidates select an essay topic and proceed with teacher-supervised research and writing. When the essay is finished, IBO suggests the supervisor conduct a “short, concluding interview” with the student. Extended Essays are graded externally by IBO-appointed examiners. Grades are based on “identified assessment criteria” that is listed in the IBO Diploma Programme Extended Essay Guide (2009) for each subject. [14]


Except for lack of desire, any public high school can (and some do) assign college-level independent research and writing to engages students in “intellectual discover and creativity.” IB, however, brings in approved essay topics that include U.N. agendas under “Peace and Conflict Studies” and “Human Rights.” For the latter, the Diploma Programme Extended Essay Guide cautions: “. . . Students who are considering registering an extended essay in this subject (which is a school-based syllabus) are strongly advised to study carefully a copy of the syllabus, obtainable from IBCA, before making a final decision. The syllabus gives a clear idea of the scope and content of the subject, and will help students to decide whether their choice of topic is appropriate.” [15]


The IBO Human Rights School-based Syllabus contains emphasis on the U.N. Global System. While selection of this topic is voluntary, one should be aware of the contents of this essay topic. Listed under “TOPIC 2: Practice of Human Rights” is the “Human Rights Protection Systems”:


International Bill of Human Rights: U.N. Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (and its Optional Protocol, 1976), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1976)

U.N. Organs and Human Rights: General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, Other Relevant Councils and Commissions, International Court of Justice, Other Relevant UN Courts and Tribunals, UNESCO, and ILO [International Labor Org.]

Other Major U.N./Human Rights Treaties

U.N. and the Enforcement of Human Rights. [16]


Also included are “Regional Courts” identified as the: European System, Inter-American Human Rights System, African System of Human and People’s Rights (Banjul), and Non-Governmental Organizations. Listed under “Human Rights and International Law” are: Sources of International Human Rights Law, Enforcement of International Human Rights Law, Non-Judicial Enforcement, as well as Conflicts, Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.


Peace and Conflict Studies also highlight U.N. issues. In "Curriculum development and ethics in international education,” Dr. Ian Hill, then-Deputy Director General of the IBO, says:


"'Peace and conflict studies' treats concepts of peace and violence, the phenomenon of human aggression, arms and disarmament, regions in conflict, and international organizations. The arms and disarmament section includes a discussion of the effects of nuclear weapons and warfare, the technological development of the arms arsenals and their effect on relationships between political blocs, the dynamics of the arms race, and initiatives for the control, limitation and reduction of armaments since 1945. . . .”  [17]


Peace Education is core to IB Programs. IBO’s official 2005 NGO responses to the “Questionnaire on the implementation of the Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, addressed to NGOs maintaining official relations with UNESCO” states:


“Peace Education is not an add-on but an integral part of the [IB] curriculum at all levels. . . . It can be integrated to the content and discussion in all subjects and does not have to be restricted to special activities, . . . Some teachers still say they do not have enough time to cover the syllabus, so we have made peace education an integral part of our subjects.” [18]


Activities supporting Peace Education at IB schools have included: collecting student signatures for the UNESCO 2000 Manifesto; a peace ‘walkathon’ “to heighten awareness and understanding for human rights protection and violations, as well as an understanding of the role of the United Nations”; and “ . . . a peace education programme which is also based on the Living Values project and which they have extended to begin a ‘conflict mediation group’ and an introduction to conflict resolution” [19] [20]


Theory of knowledge (TOK)

According to the IBO, TOK is “central to the educational philosophy of the Diploma Programme” and it is “composed almost entirely of questions. The most central of these is ‘How do we know?’” Furthermore, “It is a stated aim of TOK that students should become aware of the interpretative nature of knowledge, including personal ideological biases, regardless of whether, ultimately, these biases are retained, revised or rejected.” [21]


TOK “teaches nine reasons for justification of things one claims to know: logic, sensory perception, revelation, faith, memory, consensus, authority, intuition, and self-awareness” and “four supposed truth tests: coherence, correspondence, pragmatism, and consensus.” (Wikipedia) [22]


World Class Education Research has explained that TOK:


“. . . utilizes a modern, post-modern ‘Philosophy 110 Course’ approach to teaching (made popular at Oxford) that asks the student to evaluate what is true (i.e. ‘critical thinking’) under the microscope of metaphysics (what is real), epistemology (how we know–reasoning and fallacies of reasoning, rational thought, and the scientific method), and axiology (what value it places on truth and knowledge). It leans heavily on the philosophers of the Western world for analysis. Thus ‘truth’ is examined through a post-modern, deconstructionist lens (i.e. ‘truth is elusive and unattainable’), using the politics of meaning, or ‘politically correct thought,’ popular on college campuses today.1[23]


The IB TOK appears to address the portion of the IB mission that says their programs “encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.” (Emphasis added) [24] This (bold emphasis in quote) is similar to a “thinking skill” called dialectical thinking. This is described in a UNESCO IBE publication that highlights “A Culture of Peace”:


Dialectical thinking: thinking about more than one point of view; understanding points of view other than one’s own; being able to construct an argument from either point of view -- sometimes contradictory -- based on knowledge about the other.” [25]  


Dialectical thinking is reminiscent of what George Orwell described in his novel 1984: “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously; and accepting both of them.”


In V.I. Lenin’s biographical sketch of Karl Marx, theory of knowledge is described as a part of Marx’s dialectical materialism – the "revolutionary aspect of Hegel’s philosophy [dialectics]” that “was adopted and developed by Marx. Dialectical materialism ‘does not need any philosophy standing above the other sciences.’ [. . .] Dialectics, as understood by Marx, and also in conformity with Hegel, includes what is now called the theory of knowledge, or epistemology, studying and generalizing the original and development of knowledge, the transition from non-knowledge to knowledge." [26]


The Encyclopedia of Marxism says dialectical materialism -- the philosophy of Marxism -- is “a way of understanding reality; whether thoughts, emotions, or the material world. Simply stated, this methodology is the combination of Dialectics and Materialism. The materialist dialectic is the theoretical foundation of Marxism (while being communist is the practice of Marxism).” [27] 


The way IB addresses “how do we know?” should itself be brought to the table for questioning.


Continue to Part 6

© Debra K. Niwa, July 2009 (updated March 2010)



[1] JF Rischard, “IB is showing the way,” IB World, May 2008. Accessed 6/10/08.

[2] "Curriculum development and ethics in international education,” Disarmament Forum, Education for Disarmament, 2001, p.51 In an Oct. 2006 speech by Monique Seefried, “Scholastic Communities and Democracy: The Role of Ethics in International Education,” part of the quote is attributed to Roger Peel, a former Director General of IB, p.7.

[3] Liam Julian, "In IB we trust?," The Education Gadfly, Nov. 3, 2005, Vol 5, No 39, Thomas B Fordham Institute.

[4] "Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate -- Do They Deserve Gold Star Status?" Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Nov. 2007, p.15.

[5] 2008-2009 Course Description Catalog for Grades 9-12. Tucson Unified School District. (Draft) Accessed 2/16/09. Note that while this document is called a “draft,” it has been use.

[6] What is the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program? Cholla High Magnet School web site, Tucson Unified School District. Accessed 3/09

[7] David Klein, “International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, Mathematics SL,” Fall 2007, California State Univ., Northridge web site.

[8] William Song, “AP vs. IB: Which Should You Take and Why?,” Youth Canada website, Aug. 14, 2008. Accessed 2/17/10.

[9] Diploma Program Curriculum, IBO web site. Accessed 3/12/09.

 [10] Miguel A. Faria Jr., M.D., “National Service – 'Compassion Fascism' by Any Other Name,” NewsMax, Feb. 22, 2002. Accessed 4/07.

[11] Ginny Baker, Charlotte Iserbyt, Berit Kjos and Mary Thompson, “Uncle Sam Wants You, Your Sister, and Your Girlfriend or Wife,” NewsWithViews, Nov. 11, 2003. Accessed 11/2003. < >

[12] See “Community Service: Mandatory or Voluntary?-Industry Overview,” Diane Loupe, School Administrator, Aug. 2000.  < >

[13] Diploma Programme Extended Essay Guide (First examinations 2009), International Baccalaureate Organization, March 2007. Updated Nov. 2008, Feb. 2009.p.3. Accessed 9/4/09.

[14] Ibid., p. 3, 22.

[15] Ibid., p. 108.

[16] Human Rights School-based Syllabus, International Baccalaureate, no date, p.9-11. Accessed 9/4/09.

While the document was not dated, “Human Rights” was announced as a “new IBO Diploma Programme school-based syllabus” in Joni Makivirta’s “Enthusiastic response to IB human rights course,” IB World, Feb. 2003, ISSN 1560-5795, p. 18. Accessed 8/31/09.

[17] Ian Hill, Deputy Director General of the IBO, "Curriculum development and ethics in international education," Disarmament Forum, Education for Disarmament, 2001, No. 3, p.55. United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research. Accessed 11/25/05.

[18] Questionnaire on the implementation of the Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, addressed to NGOs maintaining official relations with UNESCO: Preparation of the mid-term report on the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and non-violence for the children of the world (2001-2010). Accessed 5/3/09.

[19] Ibid

[20] Comments: Conflict mediation/resolution -- if a facilitated consesus-building process is uesd for a pre-determined outcome -- is more about group processing vs. resolving conflict. As an aside, but related to “peace” politics: See “Department of Peace Proposals in the U.S. Congress” downloadable from Vicky Davis’ Channeling Reality web site:

[21] IBO website. Accessed 3/12/09.

[22] Theory of Knowledge (IB course), Wikipedia website. Accessed 5/2/09.

[23] World Class Education Research Responds to the International Baccalaureate’s “Myth v. Facts” and “As A Matter of Fact” Flyers, 2008.

[24] Mission and strategy, IBO web site. < >

[25] “A Culture of Peace,” International Bureau of Education, UNESCO, Educational Innovation and Information, September 1999, No. 100, p.4)

[26] V. I. Lenin, Karl Marx -- a Brief Biograpbical Sketch with an Exposition of Marxism (reprinted with a few changes, from Lenin's Marx, Engels, Marxism, English edition, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow. 1951) Foreign Languages Press, Peking, China, 1967, 1970, p. 12. Online version, Marx to Mao website. Accessed 3/09

[27] Encyclopedia of Marxism, website. Accessed 3/12/09.



International Baccalaureate (IB) Unraveled

Part 6: Transformation


By Debra K. Niwa • September 2009 (updated March 2010)

 (Note: British English spellings are retained for quoted sources)


“The IB learner profile is the IBO mission statement translated into a set of learning outcomes for the 21st century. The attributes of the profile express the values inherent to the IB continuum of international education: these are values that should infuse all elements of the Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP) and Diploma Programme and, therefore, the culture and ethos of all IB World Schools. The learner profile provides a long-term vision of education. It is a set of ideals that can inspire, motivate and focus the work of schools and teachers, uniting them in a common purpose.”

IB Learner Profile Booklet, 2006 [1]


Dr. Ian Hill, then Deputy Director General of the IBO, wrote that Article 26, paragraph 2 of the United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) “provides the philosophical planks of an international education” (Education for Disarmament, 2001). UDHR Article 26, par. 2 states (emphasis added):


Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality, and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.” [2]


In a 2005 IB Research Notes article "The Language of International Education: a Critique," author Isaac Quist says:


“The first step towards developing a language of international education, [George] Walker continues, is to reach agreement on what he defines as the “‘deep structure’ of international education”, which is the values we must all share if we are to have any chance of understanding what each other is saying. Arguing that the problems with its implementation are no real reason for ignoring it, he calls for renewed engagement with and commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to bring it back forcefully into the public consciousness.” (Emphasis added) [3]


Not to be overlooked with IB’s endorsement of the UDHR is Article 29, sec. 3: “These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.” [4] The UDHR kids’ version is more explicit:


Nobody should use her or his freedom to go against what the United Nations is all about.” [5]


United Nations vs. United States


With the UDHR, the rights of the U.N. supersede the organization’s defined “human rights.” As an IB student in a U.S. public school remarked in an online discussion: “The UN article 29 exists to protect the rights of governments to govern their people.” [6] (The same student opined, “To be honest, I don't really care if IB is linked to the UN, or wants to create global citizens.” That attitude is not surprising coming from an IB student -- it aligns with IB values. But we would be wise to consider the implications.)


Conversely, the United States’ Declaration of Independence says in part  (Emphasis added):


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. [7]


The U.N. influence on IB is problematic. What suits the U.N. is not always compatible with the U.S. Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights, or the U.S. as a sovereign nation established as a Constitutional Republic. In “Liberty or Sustainable Development?,” Michael Shaw compares “the founding documents of the United States of America with the founding documents of the United Nations”:


“In America’s case, the governmental premise is based on the ideal of self-governance which leads to individual liberty and which is predicated on the idea of unalienable rights including the right to the reasonable use of one’s property. The right to property secures the right of liberty which in turn secures for all a life as a human being. These rights are inherent to our nature and are imbued by our creator. They cannot be stripped away – even by the force of government. Legitimate government exists to protect these rights.”

 “The United Nation’s premise is quite different. Article 29 Sec 3 of the United Nations declaration of Human Rights proclaims ‘Rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations’. The United Nations and the men behind its mantle are the ultimate power for determining your rights. The UN model is global state collectivism. It will lead to tyranny because the idea of human rights, or animal rights for that matter, are rights granted by a narrow group of men. These ‘grants’ can be withdrawn by men. Rights can be selectively granted for some men and not for other men. What comes can go because an ‘elite’ makes the decisions for all.” [8]


Peace = social justice?


Returning to the UDHR, recall that education “shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.” (Article 26, sec. 2) What does this mean? Stuart Chevalier’s book about the United Nations -- The World Charter and the Road to Peace (1946) – contains this pause-for-thought quote: “Peace is not the absence of war. Peace is the presence of justice.” [9]


U.N. concepts of justice are found in U.N. sustainable development agendas. In “Liberty or Sustainable Development?,” Michael Shaw identifies “Sustainable Developers’ so-called ‘three E’s’”: “• Social Equity or social justice. This means using the law to reengineer humanity, • A ‘new’ Economic system–so-called Public-private partnerships, • ‘Environmental justice’. Devaluing man to the level of animals and plants.” [10]


Shaw adds, “The modern war on liberty fosters confusion in our schools regarding the nature of what is a moral government. It uses divide and conquer tactics by separating people into groups under the principle of social justice. It creates dependency via an emerging global corporate socialism based on public-private partnerships.” (Emphasis added) [11]


Attention to social justice is appearing in all levels of U.S. education and may be found under the guise of cultural or intercultural competency/proficiency, multiculturalism, diversity, and ethnic studies. Critical pedagogy is integral to social justice education:


Critical Pedagogy is the educational arm of the ‘social justice movement’, which is the political arm of “liberation theology”, all of which are aspects of ‘Cultural Marxism’. . . . ”  [ . . . ] “The goal of critical pedagogy is social transformation, which is the product of the practice of social ‘justice’ at the collective level. Social transformation is accomplished through indoctrination of the young, leading to social transformation of the larger society as succeeding generations inculcate the ‘lessons of awareness’ transmitted to them by their ‘teachers’.”

– “Bill Ayers, the ‘Critical Pedagogy’ movement and ‘Cultural Marxism’,” Dec. 15, 2009 [12]


Social Justice is a core part of International Baccalaureate. A continuum of international education (IBO, 2002) says an IB school’s “ethos which has a commitment to social justice and equity will be readily apparent in the daily life, conduct, management and leadership of the school.” [13] In 2003, Monique Seefried, president of the IB Council of Foundation, explained in her “IBO, a World of Givers” speech (emphasis added):


“At the core of an IB education, starting with our youngest students is the aim to develop caring young people with a commitment to action and service.”. . .“This is the most idealistic part of the education our students receive. . . . It is also essential in developing in them the drive to become an agent of social change in our ever evolving societies where there is still so much to do to reach an ideal of social justice.[14]


In November 2007, the World Day of Social Justice was proclaimed at the 62nd session of the U.N. General Assembly -- to be observed on February 20 and effective in 2009. The U.N. Social Perspective on Development Branch says (emphasis added):


“As recognized by the World Summit, social development aims at social justice, solidarity, harmony and equality within and among countries . . . To achieve ‘a society for all’ governments made a commitment to the creation of a framework for action to promote social justice at national, regional and international levels. They also pledged to promote the equitable distribution of income and greater access to resources. . . .” [15]


Much has been written about social justice and I encourage readers to do more investigation. But for now, the following highlight a few issues worth contemplating (emphasis added):


"Social justice relies on the establishment of 'civil law,' which is designed to expand government and its partners authority at the expense of individual liberty. Equal justice on the other hand respects individual rights and private property." -- Michael Shaw, "Principles of Equal Justice Encouraged by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals," Jan. 18, 2008 [16]


Social justice is always controversial in theory and imperfect in practice. In education we talk about things like’ equality of outcomes’ or ‘equality of learning outcomes’. To think that we could single-handedly achieve this without dismantling existing power structures is naive. Some kinds of social justice are just not achievable because they are at odds with the political and economic forces which shape our society. If society stays the way it is, there are some kinds of social justice that we can never have.”  -- Karen Starr, “What is Social Justice?,” Sept. 3, 1991 [17]


“The philosophy of communism primed around the concept of universal social justice for all, where all groups in society are classless secured by the vigilance of a benevolent State that will provide for all needs – from homes to child caring -- is today discredited. 70 years of experimentation and application has seen the communist model to be more likely associated with repression of individual thought, economic stagnation, and the removal of choice as against the attainment of universal social justice. The communist model is today, with very few exceptions, debunked as a social economic instrument.” -- David Spiteri Gingell, "Social Justice: A New Agenda?," 2007. [18]


“Many of the foundational writings of social justice can be traced back to the ideas proposed by Marx and Engels.” -- Bharath Sriraman, “On the Origins of Social Justice: Darwin, Freire, Marx and Vivekananda,” 2007. [19]


“. . . Karl Marx formed and detailed the popular concept of ‘social justice,’ (which has become a kind of "new and improved" substitute for a storeful of other terms -- Marxism, socialism, collectivism …” -- Barry Loberfeld, “Social Justice: Code for Communism,” Feb. 27, 2004. [20]



Closing remarks



International Baccalaureate does not belong in U.S. public schools. Higher cost is a big problem; but what IB is, does, or fails to do is of greater concern; this became apparent during my research that was initiated in part because of my history. During 11th and 12th grade I lived outside the U.S. and attended a private k-12 International School with students from many countries. There was no IB. The high school standards supported admission into top U.S. higher education institutions. Years after I graduated from the International School, IB appeared as an option. I wondered why.


Given my background, I might have welcomed IB. But as I learned more about the programs, it was obvious that IB intends to create a particular kind of “global citizen” and a particular kind of “intercultural understanding and respect.” The IB brand is troubling; it supports U.N. issues such as Agenda 21/sustainable development, disarmament under the guise of peace, a collectivist view of social justice, a consensus-building type of civic engagement, and more. Cloaked in utopian feel-good jargon, the U.N. system is communitarian in nature*. Strip away the high-sounding rhetoric and what comes into view is central planning for all aspects of life -- cradle-to-grave control of the world’s human resources.


IB supports a global system that requires populations to be adaptable to change and be agents of social change. Why? And exactly what kind of change is looming? Bottom line: the strategic plans of social engineers will only produce a “sustainable world” for a gaggle of the self-appointed and their ilk who regulate and monitor what the rest of us think and value, and how we live.


Those who are adverse to Big Brother machinations need to watch the international stage and pay attention to the type of so-called education programs that are funded with local, state, and federal tax dollars. I emphasize that IB is not the only problem. Other education “innovations” use similar methods to meet similar objectives. This is a tasteless joke on the public. Many programs share the same “affective” (value, attitude, and behavior) goals under the cover of special themes, school choice, and community education, among others. If these are not in your area, just wait. Schools/districts need only to acquire a large enough dipping pot of money and change or replace educators who value teaching.


If public schools are to educate, there must be a halt to public-private partnerships that allow for private self-interest meddling; and an end to the taxpayer funding of unsubstantiated progressive/humanistic experiments with children. A permanent fix requires school leaders who will not continue to subvert education.


It is not costly to provide students with a strong academic foundation and extracurricular activities that help build a solid base for a wide range of life options. But a cradle-to-grave “lifelong education”** social engineering system is an unjustified economic burden that reduces opportunities. IB programs globally spread this concoction. Community members would be wise to look carefully before leaping off this cliff.


© Debra K. Niwa, March 2010.


*For more information, see the Anti-Communitarian League web site.

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Also listen to this 5/7/09 interview with Niki Raapana:

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**See my article “Redefining Education for Global Citizenship,” NewsWithViews, Feb. 21, 2006.

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[1] “Introduction to the IB Learner Profile,” IB Learner Profile Booklet, 2006, IBO, p.1.

[2] Ian Hill, Deputy Director General of the IBO, "Curriculum development and ethics in international education," Disarmament Forum, Education for Disarmament, 2001, No.3, p.52. United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research. Accessed 11/25/05.

[3] Isaac Quist, "The Language of International Education: a Critique," IB Research Notes, Vol. 5, Issue 1, January/February 2005, p.3. Accessed 6/14/08.

[4] The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. United Nations web site. Accessed 4/3/05.

[5] Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Kids version), Little House Alternative Schools, Dorchester, Mass., n.d. U of Minnesota web site. Accessed 3/3/09, Note: In 1987, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, An Adaptation for Children, by Ruth Rocha and Otavio Roth was published by United Nations Publications, New York. It is listed in the Human Rights Education: The 4th R, Human Rights Education Resource Guide, Preschool to Grade 4, Vol. 6, No.1, Summer 1994. Human Rights Library, U of Minnesota. Accessed 3/19/06.

[6] See comments to “IB has great benefits,” Coeur d’Alene Press, Feb. 12, 2010.

[7] Excerpt from The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, July 4, 1776, U.S. National Archives & Records Administration web site. < >

[8] Michael Shaw, “Liberty or Sustainable Development?” Part 4, NewsWithViews, July 29, 2008. Accessed 8/15/08. < >

[9] Stuart Chevalier, The World Charter and the Road to Peace, 1946, The Ward Ritchie Press, Los Angeles, p. 169.

[10] Michael Shaw, “Liberty or Sustainable Development?” Part 4, NewsWithViews, July 29, 2008. Accessed 8/15/08.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Geoffrey Britain, "Bill Ayers, the 'Critical Pedagogy' movement and 'Cultural Marxism'," Verum Serum, Dec. 15, 2009. Accessed 2/7/10.

[13] A continuum of international education: the Primary Years Programme, the Middle Years Programme and the Diploma Programme, IBO, 2002, p.10. Accessed 6/10/08.

[14] Monique Seefried, “IBO, a World of Givers,” IBO Heads of Schools World Conference. Cancun, Mexico, Oct. 2003.

[15] “World Day of Social Justice,” Social Perspective on Development Branch, United Nations web site.

[16] Michael Shaw, "Principles of Equal Justice Encouraged by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals," Freedom Advocates web site, Jan. 18, 2008. Accessed 11/4/08.

[17] Karen Starr, “What is Social Justice?,” Curriculum Perspectives, Vol. 11, No. 3, Sept. 3, 1991, p. 24.

[18] David Spiteri Gingell, "Social Justice: A New Agenda?," 2007, p 4. Union Haddiema Maghqudin (Malta Workers' Union) web site.

[19] Bharath Sriraman, “On the Origins of Social Justice: Darwin, Freire, Marx and Vivekananda,” The Montana Mathematics Enthusiast, Monograph 1, 2007, p.4. Accessed April 24, 2009

[20] Barry Loberfeld, “Social Justice: Code for Communism,” FrontPage Magazine, Feb. 27, 2004. Accessed 12/2/09.