IB: Cruel and unusual punishment

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Anyone who has read the enlightening editorial in the Press on July 29th must now realize the terrible threat posed by the International Baccalaureate program.

How dare the Press praise such a program, and how dare voters elect to establish an educational option that encourages a global viewpoint and actually requires academic rigor rather than paying it mere lip service? IB is an un-American menace, but in 2003 local voters actually elected to fund the program in a special election.

In a state where the top educator isnít even an educator, what were we thinking? Were we actually hoping to educate kids and not just train them? Patrons must have lost their minds to want District 271 to adopt a program with a curriculum aimed at depth rather than at shallow multiple choice assessments, because sane people know that diving deeply can result in drowning. How dare we expose our children to such a danger?

Instead of experiencing a quick and easy multiple-choice test at a keyboard, these poor IB students must gather their thoughts and collect from memory the knowledge needed to write in-depth essays with an old-fashioned pen for two hours on each of the various subjects into which they have chosen to submerge.

How cruel and unusual is that? Can you imagine having to compose an answer to a question relying on your ideas and on the memory of what you have learned and read and discussed without having a computer in front of you as you do it? Can you imagine not being able to simply cut and paste from a website but instead being required to incorporate your experiences in class and on the Internet into a cogent piece of writing that wonít be graded by your teacher but will be held up to international standards and compared to the work of other students around the world? Itís absurd and cruel.

Also cruel is the fact that we allow such cognitive self-flagellation within a system designed for convenience and comfort. Idaho has streamlined the route to a high school diploma, while IB requires excursions into intellectual areas designed to stimulate critical thinking through the slow process of contemplation. Why would anyone choose to take such excursions when there are far faster and easier ways to obtain a diploma? A person has to be a bit twisted to choose actual critical thinking over the kind that can be accomplished by pushing the A, B, C, or D keys on a keyboard.

As the Press editorial clearly illuminated, we simply do not have that many masochists in our student population. Only 54 Lake City High School students chose the unusual challenge of an IB class, and even at Coeur díAlene High School less than 10 percent of the students opted for the Advanced Placement Program. That is because, as Homer Simpson claimed, if something is difficult thatís Mother Natureís way of telling you to skip it.

So letís get rid of IB, a program that in its brief existence has sent the few students twisted enough to volunteer for it off to dangerous places like Harvard and Yale and Princeton and Stanford and a host of other top-tier colleges, thus ruining them for Idaho. Both IB and AP lack the numbers to justify their existence, and their existence is threatening our way of life. Shame on those deluded souls who forgot the wisdom of Homer Simpson and voted for the dangerous wisdom of hard work and exposure the wider world back in 2003. Hopefully, our wise school board will see fit to rectify your catastrophic mistake and keep Idaho safe from the evils of a global viewpoint and actual critical thinking.

Mike Ruskovich is a resident of Blanchard.

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