The Education Action Network

Taking Back America By Taking Back Our Schools

The Downside of International Baccalaureate

Q. You hear a lot about the high test scores that kids who are in International Baccalaureate schools can get. But what's the downside of this relatively new curriculum?

The International Baccalaureate (IB) program was created in 1968 to provide a quality education for the children of European diplomats who weren't living in their home countries. IB is aligned with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to produce an internationally standardized educational system that affords equal weight and value to every system of government, cultural practice and social construct in the world.

Parents like how IB students are required to master two foreign languages, write a long, original research paper, and participate in out-of-school "service learning" activities. They say IB schools raise test scores in elementary, middle-school and high-school programs, and prepare students better for college than regular curricula. They say that even if the cost per pupil is higher than for regular students, estimated at more than $200,000 per school plus ongoing continuing education costs, sending educators on learning junkets to faraway places, it's well worth it.

Critics of IB, however, say students can and do get a highly competitive, globally-focused K-12 education from a regular school program with control in the hands of local educators and elected representatives in the local school board, state legislature, state board of education and other democratically selected leadership.

They say IB is "un-American" because the ideas and values taught align with United Nations philosophies. Basically, the idea taught is that no one political philosophy is "right" and that no one country or system is superior to another. In effect, critics say, IB promotes "world citizenship" as opposed to teaching students to become better American citizens. IB also undermines and minimizes the state learning standards put in place by local educators and state legislatures, creating a de facto global curriculum over which local parents and teachers have no sway.

What's taught must be of "universal" importance. By definition, that means the curriculum will have a different perspective than the ideas and values that come from the United States Constitution, and American history, literature, culture, religion and system of government.

The American experience is valued at the same level as any other nation's, so the students learn a lot less about American history and study a lot less American literature than students in regular curricula. This disarms these students from being able to recognize the legitimate advantages of our constitutional republic, since the less you know, the less ammunition there is in your intellectual arsenal for quality reasoning.

American principles of government and law are undermined and minimized in subtle ways, including the simple fact that they are grouped alongside so many other governmental styles and arrangements in a "value-neutral" way. That steers the students toward accepting globalism rather than valuing American sovereignty and American principles.

This is the heart of the controversy over IB, and a big reason elected school boards have trouble allocating extra taxpayer dollars to pay for IB programming which can be seen to "put down" the American way even though it's being delivered to students at the expense of American taxpayers.

Through the system of IB assessments, taken throughout the world on the same day and scored at IB headquarters, the critics say, student minds can be shaped toward globalism and socialism, rather than toward capitalism, democracy and pro-Americanism. If you don't "cave in" to the globalist/socialist way of thinking on the tests, you won't get a high score or a high grade, or get in to the elite colleges controlled by the same type of people as promote the IB curriculum to parents.

It may not be evident right now, but the simple fact of acceding power and control to the IB officials on curriculum and assessment poses a dangerous risk of a gradual transformation to more blatant Marxist content over the course of years, and local parents and educators would be powerless to reverse that trend.

IB supporters, on the other hand, say that participating schools can write their own curriculum. So, they say, the beliefs and values that are taught are really up the schools, not the International Baccalaureate Organization, which is based in Geneva, Switzerland. As long as locally-elected school boards are still responsible for curriculum, IB won't unduly propagandize young minds, they say. Of course, the students might not score as well on the IB assessments if they aren't schooled specifically in the IB curriculum.

Of more concern is the fact that the IB program requires schools to teach what is contained in the United Nations' "Universal Declaration of Human Rights," as well as the content of such treaties and accords as Kyoto, the UN Treaty on the Rights of the Child, the Earth Charter, Agenda 21, the Biodiversity Treaty, and many others which are considered leftist and socialistic, and the United States does not support them.

Typical examples of what is a "must" in IB programming: eliminating the death penalty, restricting guns to military and police, environmental protectionism, teaching global warming as incontrovertible fact, AIDS as the primary health issue, endangered species, nuclear disarmament, women's rights, slavery, forced wealth redistribution from rich countries to poor countries, forced wealth redistribution and "equalization" within rich countries, human rights, obesity, aging, cloning, and so forth. These topics are to be taught throughout the curriculum, from language class to math class to foreign languages and sciences.

While no one would argue that those aren't important topics, when they are studied in the context of globalism - very close to Marxism - and taught to young children rather than college students or even adults, with American principles and documents excluded or minimized, it's easy to see how a globalist, leftist worldview matching the United Nations' approaches could be formed in students.

Opponents are concerned about the IB's literary selections being markedly anti-western civilization, excluding the "canon" of classic books by authors of European or American descent. Instead, the books are by multicultural authors from Third World countries, covering politicized cultural or feminist struggles.

More criticism is leveled at IB programs which are hostile to, or indifferent about, Christianity, while actively promoting non-Christian practices and organizations, mostly New Age and pantheistic belief systems. What passes for "spiritual education" in IB programming is actually New Age, Earth-worship type religion in environmentalist packaging.

IB programming is growing quickly in the United States, with 925 schools, two-thirds of them high schools.

Homework: The International Baccalaureate Organization website is, For more on the downside of IBO, see or see articles indexed on, the organization of Professor Allen Quist, a former three-term Minnesota state legislator and author.

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