POST FALLS - Duncan Koler believes only a battle was won last year when it was decided to phase out the International Baccalaureate Organization advanced learning program in the Coeur d'Alene School District.
The war against what Koler sees as a historic trend of turning students into global citizens still remains.
"It's important to understand that this has been going on for a long time," Koler, an attorney from Hayden, told the Panhandle Pachyderm Club on Friday at Red Lion Templin's Hotel. "It hasn't stopped and it won't stop."
Koler, a member of the nonprofit Citizens for Better Education, was among those who opposed IB at Lake City High and the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the elementary version of IB at Hayden Meadows Elementary that will be terminated at the end of this year.
He said more work needs to be done getting education focused on core learning and academics and less on socialization.
"IB isn't the only problem," he said. "It was just the most visible and most objectionable on its face. It's what got me started down this path."
The CBE's position hasn't come without controversy.
Koler said some people have labeled his group as a "shadow organization" because it hasn't named its members. The Press requested the names on Friday, but Koler declined, saying that it's a diverse, loose-knit group interested in making conservative changes in schools and that he just happens to be the most outspoken member of the group.
Katie Kladar, a member of the nonprofit Coeur d'Alene Education Partnership that has different education philosophies than CBE, declined to comment on Koler's opinions, saying the CEP is non-partisan and not intended to engage in debates.
Koler called programs such as IB a "shell game" backed by big money and big business.
"It's a moving target they keep putting in front of you," he said. "The goal is to make you better, but it's not. Turning kids into global citizens is OK for some people, but it's not with me."
Koler said he believes there has been a reduced emphasis on the English language in schools and education has steered away from fundamentals such as cursive.
He said now is the time to buck the trend at the local level.
"The big picture is that it's time to look ahead like the progressives have for more than 100 years," he said. "(The lack of a long-term plan) has to change. We owe it to our kids."
Koler said that with the current Coeur d'Alene School Board, which he considers conservative throughout, and conservative Kootenai County, he's optimistic. He believes the board is carefully looking at the district's budget to keep costs at a minimum and is on the right track with March's supplemental levy vote that includes safety enhancements.
"We have an opportunity to rally the troops and continue with the progress that's been made," he said.