Emmett McGroarty is the executive director of Preserve Innocence, an initiative of the American Principles Project.
An international education must go well beyond the provision of information and is involved in the development of attitudes and values which transcend barriers of race, class, religion, gender or politics.
—International Baccalaureate Organization Subject Guide (1996).
Should we spend taxpayer dollars on a public school curriculum commissioned by the United Nations, made in Europe, and at odds with the principles of the American founding? Through the International Baccalaureate program, that's already underway.
Across the country, public schools (primarily high schools, but also middle and elementary schools) are paying into the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. Now, there are 1,296 IB "World Schools" in the United States, of which 279 offer the Primary Years Programme, 445 offer the Middle Years Programme, and 751 offer the Diploma Programme. But a growing chorus of parents and concerned citizens oppose IB because of its conflict with America's founding principles.
IB was founded in 1968 in Switzerland to provide internationally standardized curricula for the children of diplomats. Since then, its geographic footprint has expanded to thousands of schools worldwide, and its student base now reaches far beyond the children of diplomats. The students study a standardized IB curriculum, taught by IB-trained teachers, and take standardized tests graded either by IB examiners or by IB-monitored teachers. [Check out the best high schools in the nation.]
IB isn't cheap. The application/candidacy fee for a school can total as much as $23,000. Add to that the costs of teacher training (hundreds of dollars per teacher per seminar, not counting expenses), annual school fees ($10,000 for a high school), student fees, test fees, and more—it adds up.
What do parents and other taxpayers get for this outlay of funds? A curriculum crafted in Europe, with a decidedly non-American and non-Judeo-Christian outlook on the world. This slant isn't surprising, given that IB was initially funded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)—which continues to fund certain IB activities—and that UNESCO currently describes IB as a "partner" in its international education initiatives. IB now operates as a non-governmental organization of the UN's Economic and Social Council.
Do you want to hear from the horse's mouth? An excellent source for evaluating IB is "A Continuum of International Education," published by the IB Organization in 2002. From this document, we learn that the goal of IB is not merely to impart knowledge or teach thinking skills, but rather to develop "citizens of the world" with "universal human values."
What are these values? Not necessarily the values of the student's parents or faith, but those embodied in the UN Declaration of Human Rights. That document decrees that "[e]ducation ... shall further the activities of the United Nations ..."—presumably including activities not endorsed by the United States, such as the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the Kyoto Protocol.
Another controversial IB connection is the Earth Charter, a sweeping blueprint of international rights and responsibilities promoted by Mikhail Gorbachev, among others. The Earth Charter advocates the redistribution of wealth among and within nations (Art. 10.a), population-control policies (Art. 7.e), abolition of "all forms" of discrimination based on sexual orientation (presumably including traditional marriage)(Art. 12.a), and military disarmament (Art. 16.e). The Charter also decrees that all nations "must ... support the implementation of the Earth Charter principles with an international legally binding instrument on environment and development."
Until recently, the IB Organization was listed among official Earth Charter endorsers, and former IB Deputy Director Ian Hill affirmed that "the IBO endorses the Earth Charter and suggests many topics that promote it." As controversy grew about this connection, however, IB announced on its website that it had "with[drawn] its endorsement." Many observers are skeptical that this about-face constituted a substantive change rather than a politically motivated dodge.