Goodbye, IB - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Goodbye, IB

Program ends with 2014 class

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Posted: Monday, June 2, 2014 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - The International Baccalaureate Organization's program in the Coeur d'Alene School District will end as the last graduating IB diploma candidates cast their mortarboards into the sky at the close of the school year.

Eighteen Lake City High School seniors have spent the last two years in the internationally recognized academic program, which was implemented eight years ago.

"It was a massive undertaking," said Principal Deanne Clifford.

Clifford was one of the program's proponents who helped introduce it to LCHS. The program was approved in 2006 and the first class of IB graduates was in 2008.

Now, with the program ending and the largest class of IB grads ready to take flight, Clifford, IB teachers and the students are reluctant to see the program go.

"This is a huge class of candidates with 18 and I couldn't be more proud of you guys," Clifford said to the students, who gathered around a table in a conference room in the school Thursday afternoon.

"I am so honored to be able to hug you all and shake your hands and congratulate you as the last diploma team coming out of Lake City High School. You're all so deserving of the honors you're receiving."

What is IB?

The IBO touts its IB Diploma Programme as one that challenges students to analyze and conceptualize as they develop intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills useful in a global economy. Its mission, found at, states the program "aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect," as well as prepare students for success at the university level and life beyond.

It is offered to juniors and seniors worldwide, focusing on a breadth of knowledge in six areas: studies in language and literature, individuals and societies, mathematics, the arts, sciences, and language acquisition. Students are expected to demonstrate their knowledge through extended essays, creativity, action, service and theory of knowledge.

"IB tests don't say, 'List when the Great Wall of China was built,'" said Kaity Widmyer, 18, of Coeur d'Alene. "It tells us how, why, what caused it and to what extent."

She said IB allows students to learn concepts in their own ways of thinking. She referred to IB art classes, which she said demanded unique perspectives.

"We get to literally come up with anything we want that's original," she said. "We're not limited with pieces or dates or anything like that. It's all original, it's all coming from our own thought."

Caroline Beresford-Wood, 18, of Post Falls, said the IB curriculum is one that provides a global context for education.

"I think that with IB, because it's an international program, you get an international perspective, which is really nice to have because some people really just focus on America, whereas the Americas is a subject, instead of just the United States," she said. "We focus on the Americas, we focus on Europe, we focus on how places interact instead of just entirely the American way."

Gabby Vietri, 18, of Coeur d'Alene, said IB teaches students the facts as well as a particular way of thinking.

"I think most of us like to hope and think that we'll be able to apply that way of thinking to future problems," she said. "Not all the facts and knowledge learned in (Advanced Placement) will be applicable in future life, whereas a way of thinking is always applicable."

Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate

Advanced Placement courses will replace the IB program at LCHS. Schools can choose up to 34 AP courses in different subjects and the program is offered in many schools in the state. It provides a different kind of higher-level curriculum from the IB program.

AP is la carte, said LCHS math teacher Karen Grossman. Grossman has taught at LCHS for 18 years and taught the IB math courses since the program was implemented.

"The programs are just so different. I like the AP program too," she said. "I don't have anything bad to say about AP. It's a different perspective, excellent questions, in-depth questions kind of like the IB program, just the writing component's not there."

While both programs can assist seniors with entering preferred universities and bolstering resumes, the Coeur d'Alene School District trustees voted unanimously to phase out the IB program in 2012. It was a matter of cost-effectiveness, enrollment, overall test scores and ability to earn college credits, they said. According to these criteria, the AP program stands more firm than IB.

"I'm not a believer in choice at any cost. I fully support choice when it can be proven effective, and when the cost is reasonable when compared to the value gained," said board chair Tom Hamilton, before making the motion to discontinue the program in 2012. "After the number of years that we've had the IB program, I cannot say that IB is successful by these measurable standards."

The Coeur d'Alene School District spent $1.35 million on the IB program from its advent in 2004 to the decision to cancel in 2012. In 2011, the district spent $50,630 to provide the courses, compared to $11,449 spent on AP courses.

Many of the seniors said if they had the choice between AP and IB when they signed up as sophomores, they still would have chosen IB. Beresford-Wood said she has friends who attend Coeur d'Alene High School and Coeur d'Alene Charter Academy, where AP courses are offered. She compared one friend's programs to hers.

"The difference between my full IB schedule and her full AP schedule is the amount of memorization," she said. "She has test after test after test, whereas we have essays and seminars where we just sit in a circle and discuss ideas, and kind of be able to bolster up our own opinions about things and be able to defend our opinions instead of just having one and just accepting the fact that we have one. We need to know why we have the opinion, and that's what I really like about IB. That's something I'm going to be able to take any other place I go. I can know why I think the way I do."

Saying goodbye to IB

As the program draws to a close, those at LCHS shared some thoughts on their experiences as teachers and students.

"I thought it was kind of ridiculous IB being taken down because the people who are against IB said it was promoting socialist and communist viewpoints, it was anti-America, and I mean, God forbid we learn more about the world, trade ideas with the world," said Rikki McCaw, 18, Coeur d'Alene. He said he doesn't feel "any more socialist or communist" than he did before enrolling in the program, and that it is being discontinued for false reasons.

"I just feel like they shouldn't have taken it out for that. Yeah, I mean, we're learning new ideas from the world. When we go to college, also we're learning about the world," he said. "Hopefully, a lot of us are going to study abroad, and learn more about the world, and I feel like IB helped out. It was ridiculous IB got taken out."

Sam Balas, 17, Coeur d'Alene, said it's unfortunate to see IB go because it readied him for the world of higher education.

"The advantage in that is there are a lot of nights when we're staying up 'til like 2 a.m. and we're trying to get work done super, super late," he said. "That prepares us more for college where we're going to have to do that instead of just having to practice for some test that's going to be in May. Throughout the year, we're staying up late at night, we're talking to our other classmates like we will in college. So I think IB is better for preparing you for college."

In response to McCaw's comment, Balas said the program actually made him more pro-American.

"It made me understand that even when maybe the government was wrong, or there were some people who did things that we today would consider wrong, there were still people in America who believed in America and didn't subscribe to that, who knew it was wrong, but at the same time, they didn't give up on America," he said. "They worked hard to try to fix America, people like MLK and all the women's rights leaders in the 1920s. Learning about those people made me believe more in America in that even though America might have hard times, or might be doing the wrong thing at times, if you work hard enough, you can fix it."

Local IB Diploma Programme graduates have gone on to universities such as Duke, Dartmouth and Stanford, as well as regional schools such as the University of Washington and Whitworth University. They have become chemists, physicians, graphic designers, musicians and much more.

"The great thing about IB is that it attracts and produces so many different, unique individuals with such diverse skills and talents," Clifford said. "It's just a program that would be for everyone."

This year's co-valedictorians, Kira Oskirko, 17, of Coeur d'Alene, and Kaity Widmyer, are IB Diploma Programme students, as well as the salutatorian Kaselyn Widmyer, 18, of Coeur d'Alene. Clifford said the program will have a lasting effect on the students, the school and even the IB teachers' teaching styles.

"It's affected the whole population," she said. "Teachers don't just teach IB classes and then stop teaching that style in their next class ... they use those talents and skills, so it affects the whole school."

LCHS is now offering AP, University of Idaho, North Idaho College and University of Washington courses as advanced learning courses for its students. Clifford said she thinks AP is going to be a great program for the school.

Although she'll miss the IB program, she is confident LCHS will continue its legacy of greatness. She said the fact that LCHS grads have been able to get into such great higher-education institutions is a direct reflection of the hard work of the educators, counselors and the students themselves.

"Do I think that is going to go away? No," she said. "Do I think it helped put us on the map with universities? Yeah, I think we're seen as a whole as a district of high-achieving kids."

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  • babydriver posted at 10:39 am on Tue, Jun 3, 2014.

    babydriver Posts: 1393

    Hey Freeman,

    Are you old enough to remember the 'Weekly Reader'? We subscribed for a while when I was maybe 3rd or 4th grade.

    The thing was chock full of UN this and UN that.

    I am talking early 1960s here. I wonder does the Weekly Reader still exist?

  • babydriver posted at 10:35 am on Tue, Jun 3, 2014.

    babydriver Posts: 1393


    Homeschool instead.

  • wwrd posted at 8:22 pm on Mon, Jun 2, 2014.

    wwrd Posts: 237

    Congratulations to these graduating students. Will the Press also do the same kind of article for the AP students at CHS and CDA Charter and PFHS, Timberlake and Lakeland ? Sounds like a puff piece for the chosen city elite beloveds to me.

  • Freemanofthemosthigh posted at 7:27 pm on Mon, Jun 2, 2014.

    Freemanofthemosthigh Posts: 752

    Homeschooling is the best option for all children. IB was the indoctrination into baloney program. International blah blah. Waste of academics dollars on the touchy feely preprogrammed UN rutorial. Glad its gone. Maybe some tax dollars will be redeeemed.

  • oscar posted at 6:31 pm on Mon, Jun 2, 2014.

    oscar Posts: 1490

    Sounds like you need to cite your sources for the studies you have read because it sounds like you don't have a clue about what you are talking about. There is so much research proving you wrong, spend some time looking it up instead of just making statements you wish to be true. Explain to us how IB is pro union or are you just rambling.

  • imisscda posted at 3:12 pm on Mon, Jun 2, 2014.

    imisscda Posts: 92

    Is that you Mary Jo?

  • Truth About IB posted at 12:54 pm on Mon, Jun 2, 2014.

    Truth About IB Posts: 74

    Good bye and good riddance! A big round of applause to the intelligent, fiscally responsible Americans who served on the CDA school board and voted IB out. It was a hard fought battle, but a righteous and patriotic one. It is refreshing to see there are still Americans who can see through the smoke and mirrors of a UNESCO sham.

  • Rahana posted at 11:22 am on Mon, Jun 2, 2014.

    Rahana Posts: 1

    This is a sad day when the next generation cannot have a chance for this program anymore. A communities goal should be to exceed beyond the past generations. Do we not want our children to succeed past what we could imagine? I know I do, and hopefully this last group of students can change the thoughts of others who consider the program "socialist or communist."

  • Sunshinegirl posted at 10:52 am on Mon, Jun 2, 2014.

    Sunshinegirl Posts: 79

    LOL. Well said, "any program the helps students to independently think things through and solve problems on their own must be stomped out before it corrupts others."

    Too bad CDA couldn't vote out the "terrified, anti-global thinking" school board members before they were able to get this program out.

  • Mr Kotter posted at 9:31 am on Mon, Jun 2, 2014.

    Mr Kotter Posts: 13

    The Press gets an "Incomplete" for this puff piece, misleading those who are uninformed about this program, just like the public was only given half the truth when they were sold this expensive garbage. Recognition goes out to Edie Brooks, Vern Newby, Wanda Quinn, Dianne Zipperer, Bill Hemenway, Hazel Bauman, and of course John Goedde. This is what happens when you don't keep a close eye on your school board. Where are they now?

  • hannaman42 posted at 8:53 am on Mon, Jun 2, 2014.

    hannaman42 Posts: 11

    I was part of the inaugural IB class and the program was strongly executed by most participating teachers. I was very well prepared for college as a result. However, the cost effectiveness is very poor and in retrospect, I would have chosen to dual enroll at NIC instead, which would have saved me almost $20k in loans.

  • Miketeague posted at 8:37 am on Mon, Jun 2, 2014.

    Miketeague Posts: 2398

    I fully agree, any program the helps students to independently think things through and solve problems on their own must be stomped out before it corrupts others. I cannot believe that this area allowed the program to get this far without burning some of those mind controlling teacher at the stake.

  • civility posted at 7:25 am on Mon, Jun 2, 2014.

    civility Posts: 329

    "Yeah, I mean we're learning...." Sounded like very intelligent graduates! Maybe that same investment in a debate team, quality teachers and bonuses for outstanding teachers would have been better spent. I appreciate those who thing early childhood education and smaller class size make a difference, sounds good. If you look at every study they make little or no difference in outcome. If anyone can find a study to refute that I would love to see it. Do your homework on proposals, the teacher's union loves these proposals because they give them more members. I would support them also if they were found to work.

  • newone posted at 5:26 am on Mon, Jun 2, 2014.

    newone Posts: 41

    Might have missed it but I didn't see anywhere it was stated how many IB students graduated. But ... it sounded like less than 200 total at about $1.5M. And that is a LOT more than what is paid by the state for any other student. Lowering class size and/or all day kindergarten would have been a MUCH more cost effective use of our money.

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