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The IB scare: Fearing foreigners

The International Baccalaureate (IB) program grew out of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. So it must be a Commie plot to take over America.

So goes the thinking of a small group of conspiracy theorists who demand that New Hampshire ban the IB program from its schools. A small but vocal minority, they managed to spook the House into passing House Bill 1403 to accomplish that goal. The Senate ought to toss this ridiculous bill unanimously.

The IB program is used by two New Hampshire high schools: Bedford and private New Hampton. Bedford uses it as an advanced placement curriculum through which ambitious students can do higher-level academic work and better position themselves for college.

The program's mission is 'to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.' Ah, that sneaky Politburo, always trying to undermine capitalism by promoting peace and understanding. Bedford does not have fluoridated town water, so obviously the town had to achieve its Commie indoctrination via the IB program.

To thwart this Comintern-led brainwashing, HB 1403 would ban any public school curriculum that is 'subject to the governance of a foreign body or organization.' The mere use of the term 'world school,' which the IB program uses, would be proof under the law that a curriculum is subject to foreign governance, and thus outlawed. Also banned would be any program under which curriculum disputes are subject to 'any source of legal authority other than state or federal law.' Hmmm.

After years of struggle against teachers' unions and their political allies, New Hampshire finally managed to allow students to obtain school credit for work done outside the classroom. Just as this policy is beginning to grant New Hampshire students access to virtually unlimited educational opportunities (something conservatives have long desired), along comes the New Hampshire House to propose that we prohibit our students from gaining credit for coursework offered by any organization based outside the United States.

Were HB 1403 to become law, New Hampshire students could get class credit for taking an art class at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, but not one at the Louvre, which offers summer courses. They could get credit for taking economics at UNH-Manchester, but not at the London School of Economics, which offers courses to international students.

New Hampshire requires students to study their own history and culture. HB 1403 says that they may not learn about others if the course was designed by a 'foreign' organization, even one that happens to be run by an American citizen and U.S. Naval Academy graduate, as the IB program is. It may be well-intentioned but the bill is myopic and should not become law.

Eric Church
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