June 25, 2008
Laconia Citizen

The Gilford School Board has decided to embark on another year of study of the International Baccalaureate program.

Most members of the public who commented on the program at Monday’s School Board meeting had problems with the program. The objections noted dealt with what the program would teach students and what it would really accomplish.

In discussing the program and the initial review already conducted, board member Margo Weeks noted that over the last two years there has been a lot done to improve the rigor, with little in the way of improvements to the test scores of students.

“When we put in this new program with all the buzzwords and all the educational mumbo jumbo, what is that really going to change in the classroom,” questioned Weeks.

Both fellow board members and commenting members of the public alike were concerned that what really needs to happen at Gilford is an emphasis on student learning, comprehension, and high academic standards.

Weeks noted this should happen before switching focus to the next new thing.

However, board members like Derek Tomlinson, after visiting a charter school in Massachusetts that uses the IB program, believed it would be the fix Weeks and others are looking for.

Some at Monday’s meeting were undecided because of concerns over cost and whether or not it is really an appropriate option for Gilford.

Local resident Doug Lambert agreed with Weeks and noted that from research he has done it does not seem to be the right educational program to add but the search is commendable. To emphasize the faults of the program, Lambert pointed to a curriculum point titled, “Terrorist or Freedom fighter, is there really a difference?”

Lambert was joined by a number of other members of the public including Budget Committee Chair Dick Hickok and fellow member Sue Green, in pointed out that a “anti-American” curriculum is not what Gilford wants taught to its students.

“I think this is very, very dangerous,” said Green.

School Board member Kurt Webber did speak against this assertion, stating he had seen “the trouble the ‘ugly American’ has caused first hand.” He explained that for too long a perception of the unwillingness of America to branch out and learn in a global community has existed.

For this reason he was in support of such a curriculum, adding that students can hear the information and decided the merits for themselves.

However, Weeks was quick to point out that it is one thing to advocate for a more global approach facilitated here in America than it is to adopt a curriculum written and designed half way around the world.

Many board members said the comments indicated that more study of the program is warranted. And so another year of study was approved.

Coming with this study are costs relating to travel expenses for exploring staff and faculty, training fees, and other development related costs.

The implementation of the International Baccalaureate program has an estimated cost of $75,000 to $110,000.


CNHT Notes: The objections have nothing at all to do with opposition to learning about other cultures or to speak other languages. Kurt Webber needs to study this program further if he is to have a better understanding of the problems with it. These problems are similar to those brought about by Goals 2000 in the early 90’s.