My three children benefited from the International Baccalaureate program at the elementary level at International School at Dundee, experiencing a fully integrated inquiry-based approach to learning that they still talk about today. After moving up to the middle and high schools, they enjoyed their new schools but noticed the difference in the teaching methodology. We would love to see the program expanded into other schools in Greenwich and the district is well prepared to do so.
IB is not a new or sudden development, either in the country or in the district. In 2006, President Bush pushed for more IB and AP programs in schools as part of the American Competitiveness Initiative. As far back as two years ago, the Greenwich High headmaster discussed IB training for teachers at a ninth grade parent meeting. Implementing IB at one of our middle schools and potentially at our high school raises different questions than implementation at the elementary level. But recent fear-mongering letters implying that IB is inconsistent with traditional American education and raising unfounded fears of lawsuits are not worthy of our valuable time and attention. The town has hired an excellent superintendent, an outstanding headmaster, highly qualified principals and an array of inspired teachers and staff. We have elected a dedicated and highly principled school board. We need to listen to the professional opinions they have to offer and ask responsible questions based on a well-informed understanding of the facts.
With these thoughts in mind, here is my personal list of questions about the implementation of IB in Greenwich middle and high schools:
What GPS educational problem are we trying to solve by implementing IB? [Improving test scores? Reducing bullying? Adjusting to 21st-century skills? Addressing unmet needs of certain student groups? Implementing the GPS mission?]
What objective evidence do we have that IB will address these identified problems, from within and outside of GPS?
By what standard will we judge whether IB has solved/mitigated this problem?
What are the costs of implementation? If we are not adding costs to implement IB, what programs or services are we reducing?
What impact will the implementation of IB have on other programs such as ALP, Special Education and AP?
How do the teachers feel about the program, both those who are using it already and those who are considering its adoption?
As parents and taxpayers, we must advocate for the best education our dollar can afford in Greenwich. We also must be responsible risk-takers in assessing the challenges of the 21st century and adapting our educational system to prepare our children to meet those challenges. Our educational system should not stand still while the rest of the world passes us by.
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