The following exchange took place on 09/08/09-09/09/09 between IB student Emily, a senior at a high school in Springfield, MO, and Lisa McLoughlin, TAIB administrator. The exchange is unedited.
Dear Ms. McLoughlin,
I recently stumbled across http://www.truthaboutib.com/ and links leading you your material. Why is it that you have more or less attacked an entire program based on one bad personal experience? I am an IB Senior at xxxxxxx in Springfield, MO and have to disagree with a lot of what you and groups you are associated with have said.
If IB has taught me anything it's not to take things at face value. Your writing is a good example. You were angry about AP being eliminated, which is fair. And some level of concern was appropriate in your case with AP being cut.
But something that is not fair is the grounds upon which you base the idea that IB is bad. Are there people who do not enjoy their time in IB? Absolutely, it's a rigorous academic program, not a picnic. Do as many colleges take IB credit as AP? No, but that is because IB is a younger program than AP and it takes time for schools to adjust their policies.
My biggest issue is the xenophobic undercurrent in your arguments smacks of McCarthyism. Yes, it's an international program with a worldwide focus. Why? Because there is more to this world than what is in the United States.The whole rest of the world is out there. The good and the bad. And whether we like it or not the world is getting smaller and smaller as time goes on.
In all honesty, I have loved IB. I've made friends both inside and outside the program. I have volunteered as part of CAS and learned what it means, as Gandhi put it, "to be the change you wish to see in the world". I have learned that it is far easier to hate the unknown rather than to try and understand it.
So if it makes you happy to cherry pick from documents and use the outliers to try and prove a point, go ahead. I do not have to listen.
If you're content to criticize and devalue the rest of the world, be my guest. I am not the one who will miss out on all the beauty is has to offer.
If it makes you feel important to put down high school students and insult people like a petty three year old on obscure internet forums, have at it. I will go back to reading House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende and other works by more eloquent, and subsequently more frequently published authors.
I spent half an hour on this e-mail. That's all I needed to address your little crusade against IB. I hope you can one day find the answer about IB that you are so desperately searching for. Maybe then you can move on to more important issues facing the world today. Because no one would want your stellar writing abilities and impeccable logic to go to waste, right?
Thanks for the laughs Lisa, I hope you didn't waste too much of your life making no real difference in the world.
The dripping sarcasm of your e-mail that you claim took you half an hour (?) to compose, is not only snarky and insipid, it detracts from your overall message. However, you are a teenager. Having raised two myself, I will still take the time to respond because education in general and in our public schools specifically, has always been of great concern to me.
Truth About IB is run not only by myself, but admins from Upper St. Clair, PA. In less than a year, we have established an international network of parents who are not in favor of "welcoming" IB into their schools. Those who agree with our assessment of IB are Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians, foreign and domestic homeschoolers, and those opposed to Islamic madrassas. The vast majority are all U.S. taxpayers. In this devastating economy, for those of us who are still lucky enough to have our jobs, it is getting harder and harder to make the mortgage payments when the property taxes keep escalating exponentially. In our opinion, IB is superfluous. It is an unnecessary expense in a public school system. But unlike IB, I will take the time to respond to your erroneous allegations one by one. If IB has taught me anything it's not to take things at face value. Your writing is a good example. You were angry about AP being eliminated, which is fair. And some level of concern was appropriate in your case with AP being cut. Only IB is worthy of being taken at face value? IB was brought in through the back door in my district. Parents were not informed that AP and Honors classes for 11th & 12th Grades were being eliminated. No one was informed of the cost of the program. I endeavored to get answers about the program. I met with the Asst. Supt. during the summer vacation. I got no answers. I wrote to our Board and Superintendent. Again, no answers, only cover-up. That's when I began actively filing FOILs and discovered the cost of IB teacher training and the fact that there is no contract with IB other than the initial application. I contacted Jay Mathews of the Washington Post & Newsweek. I filed a Commissioner's Appeal to try and get our district to put the program up for a vote as a separate referendum, but the Commissioner declared that the BoE is omnipotent when it comes to decisions concerning curriculum. I didn't hire an attorney, I spent my Christmas vacation composing the complaint. At the very least, I was able to format in a manner legally acceptable to have it heard. My efforts were met with hatred and divisiveness from IB supporters. Five years later, I see the same divisiveness and hatred being directed towards Tea Party protestors, (of which I am one) by supporters of Obama. Never in the history of this country has there been such a divide in political ideology. We were successful in getting our BoE to reintroduce AP courses "on paper", but in reality, students were steered to IB by teachers and Guidance. The school placed the worst teachers in the few AP courses demanded by students with disasterous results. This is not "choice". This is deliberate manipulation of student results to puff up its controversial program. Certainly no one can accuse me of taking IB at "face value". But something that is not fair is the grounds upon which you base the idea that IB is bad. Are there people who do not enjoy their time in IB? Absolutely, it's a rigorous academic program, not a picnic. Do as many colleges take IB credit as AP? No, but that is because IB is a younger program than AP and it takes time for schools to adjust their policies. Younger program? Emily, IB was officially launched in 1968 compared with AP since 1955. I assure you, 41 years later, those 13 years don't amount to a hill of beans in terms of U.S. and university recognition of IB. IB's philosophy and construct is the result of the collaboration of educators affiliated with UNESCO. I'm sure you've been taught by IB that the UN is all wonderful and powerful, but the fact of the matter is, the UN is obsolete and ineffective. IB is not a "new" ideology. The basis for the IB pedagogy was developed by a woman named Marie Therese Maurette in 1948 in a pamphlet she wrote for UNESCO! President Reagan pulled the United States out of UNESCO. President George W. Bush rejoined. And while Bush kept this country safe for 7 1/2 years, when it came to educational policies, let's just say he wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. I believe Bush's rejoining of UNESCO was misguided, as well as Goals 2000 and some aspects of NCLB. Attempts to nationalize, or worse, internationalize curriculum, are misguided. Education should remain a local/state issue, not one subject to the political whims of any one party. Now, please go look up the dictionary definition of "rigorous". I bet an IB student $100 that he couldn't find me a single press release about IB without the word "rigorous" in it. Needless to say, he never paid up. Educrats love the word "rigorous". You may selectively find portions of the definition which are positive, but overall, the word has very negative connotations. But I'll let you look it up and decide for yourself. My biggest issue is the xenophobic undercurrent in your arguments smacks of McCarthyism. Yes, it's an international program with a worldwide focus. Why? Because there is more to this world than what is in the United States.The whole rest of the world is out there. The good and the bad. And whether we like it or not the world is getting smaller and smaller as time goes on. Wow. You managed to fit xenophobic AND McCarthyism into the same sentence. Incredible. I see you've learned your IB propaganda well, grasshopper. What you need to understand is that opponents of IB have absolutely nothing against students learning about other countries, their governments and cultures. We encourage that. However, we encourage a broad scope of history, not a limited 100 year IB focus which denegrates the U.S. and exalts communist dictators and other countries. In HS, I took French AND Latin. Our IB HS offers neither. Our HS used to offer AP foreign language. Since IB, we only offer IB SL foreign language, thereby denying college credit at most universities for those students who excel in this area. Our HS, sans any textbook committee, actually purchased with our taxdollars Howard Zinn's socialist A People's History of the United States as the primary textbook for IB HL History of the Americas. Fortunately, we hired a new Asst. Supt. whom I have known since Kindergarten, and she made sure the book was pulled. And while news travels faster and we can communicate with others around the world with lightning speed, the physical size of the earth remains the same. ;-) In all honesty, I have loved IB. I've made friends both inside and outside the program. I have volunteered as part of CAS and learned what it means, as Gandhi put it, "to be the change you wish to see in the world". I have learned that it is far easier to hate the unknown rather than to try and understand it. I too have come in contact with wonderful people in the UK, Switzerland, and all across this great nation I never would have encountered if not for our research and objections to the IB programs. However, no one is funding TAIB, especially not U.S. taxdollars, to conduct our research into IBO. Btw, two of us will be among the hundreds of thousands marching on Washington on 9/12, exercising our right to peacefully demonstrate. Because the "change" Obama promised gullible Americans who voted for him, is not the "change" we are getting. The "change" we wish to see is a government that follows our Constitution and responds to the will of We The People. You are too young to remember John Lennon's songs Power to the People and Revolution perhaps, but his words were prophetic indeed: "And if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow....." Btw, both of my children participated in community service prior to IB's introduction in our school. They didn't need a Swiss organization to "require" them to do it. Service credit was an "unadvertised" option for which they received school credit and I do believe looked good on their college transcripts. They did it out of the goodness of their hearts to help different causes within our community because it is the right thing to do, not because they were forced to. Can you "honestly" declare that we have not tried to "understand" the IB program? Ridiculous. We have spent years asking questions about this program and its host organization. We understand IBO's agenda far better than IBO wants us to understand it which is why they visit TAIB daily for "damage control". We have exposed numerous IB lies and deciphered IBO's rhetoric and "playbook". Considering each of the TAIB administrators are the descendents of immigrants to this country and have all widely traveled the world, your "understanding" that we "hate the unknown" is simply wrong and ill-informed. So if it makes you happy to cherry pick from documents and use the outliers to try and prove a point, go ahead. I do not have to listen. "Outliers"?? What an odd application of the word. You mean anyone who is not under IB's spell? Then yeah, we go to independent sources outside of the IBO propaganda to provide answers to our questions which IBO won't answer. You don't have to listen. We at TAIB do not believe in forcing people to see the truth. If it makes you feel important to put down high school students... Apparently you missed our disclaimer in bold on TAIB's home page:
Disclaimer: The purpose of this website is to question the design, agenda, implementation and results of IB programs. It is in no way meant to offend, insult, attack or demean the students who have participated in IB classes or earned an IB Diploma.
Your concluding two paragraphs are not worthy of repetition as they are merely childish insults written without care. Your half-hour would have been better spent studying our Constitution and Declaration of Independence to better understand your rapidly disappearing rights as an American and what is really most valuable and worth fighting for. Please feel free to share my response with your IB teachers.
In liberty, Lisa
Dear Ms. McLoughlin,
There are a lot of things I wanted to write in this email. But I thought better of it, for reasons I'll mention later.
Here is my response completely devoid of sarcasm. (Although that attack was a bit hypocritical). You come off as defensive in your writing. You political agenda is overly apparent in your reply. I agree, what happened in your district is wrong and shouldn't have happened, but that's no reason to go after the program. IB wasn't sneaking around, it was members of the school board who wanted to implement IB.
I can promise you that IB isn't a conspiracy, it's a school program. How can I be so sure? Because I am in IB. In all honesty, have you ever sat in on a TOK discussion? Watched a lab in IB Chemistry II? Discussed Skinner's box in IB Psychology? There's no political agenda in any of my classes. My classes are just that: classes. Not indoctrinations into a movement to surrender our rights and join the socialists or anything like that. I have friends who are strongly conservative, like I am, (yes, I'm a republican) and others who are liberal. The thing is that politics isn't part of the curriculum. We talk about it amongst ourselves, respecting one anothers' opinions in order to have meaningful discussions, but not once have any of my textbooks or teachers tried to influence my beliefs.
To say I've been brainwashed is unfounded. It's just a blanket excuse to dismiss IB students and teachers and supporters because it tries to say that we can't be right because we've somehow been tricked by IB propaganda. I am in IB because I want to challenge myself academically. Is that really a bad thing? That I want to go above and beyond and learn more? The world isn't split into IB and AP students. We all are young adults who want to have the chance to be all that we can be. If you put aside your afore mentioned ideas about IB's political agenda, is there such a big difference between IB and other classes? There is a teacher and students and something to learn. There will be bias on both sides of the spectrum in high school classes, but that's part of any high school class, not just IB.
So I'm asking you to have a little faith in IB students. We know what we're doing and would know socialist propaganda if we saw it. I promise. In a recent TOK class we sat around and talked about our religious beliefs. We have student with all sorts of different religious backgrounds and despite the differences in our beliefs, we all came to one conclusion: belief in one another is a stronger force for good than trying to show others how your idea of good is better.
So although I still stand by the points that I made in my earlier address, as I'm sure you still stand by yours, it's not worth bickering and wasting time saying things you won't listen to anyway. I won't change my mind and you won't change yours. C'est la vie. Just try and be a bit more respectful towards people who don't share your opinion and I'll do the same.
Food for thought:
"We know what we're doing and would know socialist propaganda if we saw it. I promise. In a recent TOK class we sat around and talked about our religious beliefs. We have student with all sorts of different religious backgrounds and despite the differences in our beliefs, we all came to one conclusion: belief in one another is a stronger force for good than trying to show others how your idea of good is better."
Really. This is a public school you attend? So your TOK teacher had the entire class conclude that Secular Humanism is a "stronger force for good" than standing up for individual religious beliefs? I'm sure that would be for "the greater good", right? One of the first things socialist/communist dictators do is strip their populations of centers of worship. And you don't think you're being indoctrinated by IB? Thank you for providing a crystal clear example of the danger of TOK from a student's perspective.