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IB program should be embraced here

Last modified: 4/30/2012 12:00:00 AM
Today's educators and schools shoulder a heavy responsibility to ensure that all students are taught relevant, necessary skills that will serve them well as they negotiate success in a challenging and constantly changing world. Addressing education concerns in New Hampshire, legislators have introduced House Bill 1403, which would require school curricula and instruction to meet school approval standards only when the 'curriculum and instruction promote state and national sovereignty . . . not subject to the governance of a foreign body or organization.'

The bill aims to outlaw study related to the International Baccalaureate, a rigorous education program founded in 1968 to develop students who are knowledgeable, critical thinkers; lifelong learners; and active leaders who understand and respect other cultures.

If passed, the bill would eliminate IB as an option in New Hampshire.

In the United States, IB programs are offered in 1,331 primary and secondary schools that span a thick slice of American life: public, private, magnet, charter, urban, suburban and rural schools. The IB is an independent, apolitical, nonprofit organization. The IB is not controlled by any ministry, government or the United Nations. Nor does the IB own or operate any schools.

What the IB does is prepare students for life beyond high school graduation far more successfully than many competing education programs. More than 1,000 U.S. universities actively recruit students who graduate from the IB Diploma Program; many so value IB graduates that they waive freshman year completely to attract them. A recent study by the University of Chicago linked participation in the IB Diploma Program to college success, citing a higher likelihood of attendance at a university, better preparation for university studies once there, and a high likelihood of completing college studies in four years compared to non-IB Diploma students.

My own alma mater , the U.S. Naval Academy, actively recruits IB graduates because they have proven themselves to be exemplary midshipmen, more prepared to assume the responsibilities of a naval officer as a result of their strong character, international-mindedness, critical thinking skills and ability to make reasoned, ethical decisions.

Students in New Hampshire deserve a top-notch education. Those who are enrolled in the IB Diploma Program in Bedford and New Hampton are resolute about preserving their choice. Every day IB teachers in these schools help their students, New Hampshire's future leaders, develop rigorous skills. The IB curriculum emphasizes understanding and respecting one's own culture and values first, and then becoming cognizant of the values and cultures of the larger world in which we live.

As Americans, we enjoy freedom of expression and tolerance for all as core ideals. An IB education promotes diversity of thought, opinion, background and viewpoint - not at the expense of an American identity, but in addition to it.

(Jeffrey Beard is the director general of the International Baccalaureate Organization.)


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