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Archive for Sunday, September 4, 2011

Board member interested in International Baccalaureate for schools

September 4, 2011

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A potential magnet-school concept is up for discussion in the Lawrence school district.

The program, International Baccalaureate, is organized through a nonprofit educational foundation with the stated goal of helping develop in students “the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world.”

So far the concept has caught on in six schools in Kansas, and Rick Ingram, a member of the Lawrence school board, says it could be a good fit for the Lawrence district.

“It does focus on kids and their place in the world in a broader, more global sense,” said Ingram, a professor of psychology at Kansas University. “But it’s also a rigorous course of study that really helps kids distinguish themselves. In places like college applications, coming from an IB program is really good.”

At this point, the concept simply has been floated as an idea by Ingram during the board’s goals-setting process. Other board members have asked questions about how much the program would cost, both to enter the program and to train educators to implement the curriculum.

“It’s just an idea,” said Rick Doll, district superintendent, who is working to compile board members’ goals into a single document. “It’s a topic for discussion. … We’d have to learn a lot more about it. The first step on any kind of goal in this area would be just to investigate it.”

Ingram figures it would be worth a look, especially as the district aims to make the most of its resources. The district already has volunteers, facilitators and staffers working on the Central and East Lawrence Elementary School Consolidation Working Group, studying ways to shrink the district’s roster of 14 elementary schools to either 11 or 12 within two to three years.

Why not explore implementing the International Baccalaureate program at a relatively small elementary school, he asked, in an area with relatively low enrollment? Students districtwide could choose to attend the “magnet” school to get the challenge they want.

The program would introduce a stronger version of school choice into the district, Ingram said, and potentially make more efficient use of all the district’s schools.

“It would create some additional opportunities for academic achievement, and draw some students into a particular place,” Ingram said. “I would like to think about starting it in one, maybe two schools. And if it’s two schools, maybe one elementary and one middle school.”

Among the Kansas schools taking part in International Baccalaureate: Shawnee Mission East in Prairie Villave and Shawnee Mission Northwest in Shawnee, and Sumner Academy of Arts and Science in Kansas City, Kan.

Comments

devobrun 2 years, 10 months ago

Sounds like an elitist way of obfuscating the need for a high level educational experience for top students in the city. We must be inclusive and not discriminatory, but we must provide an environment for serious learning for those who want a big intellectual challenge. So link up with a fancy program that has "international" values and obfuscate the reality that you are discriminating on the basis of a student's educational skill. Educational administration must be the most confusing job in the world. At what point do you just call it hypocrisy?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

Or they could just discriminate based on the income of the parents-- you know, like in the school where you work.

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devobrun 2 years, 10 months ago

You can always tell the mainstream. They hold the discussion and sophisticate it until obfuscation is complete. When called on to be honest, they say, "Yeah, well so are you". Further denying that they aren't being honest. We have rich kids in our school, bozo. We also have kids from families who aren't rich. Most kids come from modest means. Discrimination is practiced everywhere, all the time, bozo. Our discrimination is ours. Not yours. The public school discrimination is everybody's. Just be honest about what this program is. It's OK. The football team discriminates against 110 pound kids. Why can't the academic first team varsity have their letter jackets, too?

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chootspa 2 years, 10 months ago

People can already get letter jackets in academic competitions in public schools.

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overthemoon 2 years, 10 months ago

IB programs are not elitest or 'fancy'. They are challenging and rigorous and prepare students for high level college work. I would like to think all students would have access to an IB opportunity, but that would take active parents and raising expectations across the entire district. I wonder if that were to happen if we might find a surprising number of students excelling when released from the dumbed down curriculum most are subjected to.

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chootspa 2 years, 10 months ago

That's what bothers me about the idea. If it's so awesome, why not offer it to everyone? By the time you get to high school, you've obviously got to offer differing tracks for differing academic expectations post graduation, but that should't be different than offering AP classes is now. Wouldn't it be cheaper to train everyone at once? Wouldn't it draw people into the community if they knew we had schools that met higher standards? Why overcrowd a small neighborhood elementary school in the name of "saving" it? Why punish a larger elementary school by not offering it?

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 10 months ago

Sounds like an interesting idea that could help challenge students, especially the best and brightest of them. Hats off to Mr. Ingram for suggesting it. Of course, challenging the best and brightest students in today's public education system is generally verboten unless done clandestinely by individual teachers who have the courage to do it, so this suggestion may face tough sledding.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

"Of course, challenging the best and brightest students in today's public education system is generally verboten unless done clandestinely by individual teachers"

Yea, they have to do things like using euphemisms such as "advanced placement" in the course titles. Those sneaky smart kids and their teachers, hiding in plain sight.

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 10 months ago

Yes, thank goodness for AP classes, which are pretty much the last vestige of attempted excellence in an age of educational mediocrity in which, like Lake Wobegon, "everyone is above average."

Bozo, try advocating accelerated classes for bright children in, say, the sixth grade. The first hurdle you'll face will be getting anyone at the All-Star Dairy Building to acknowledge that any of the kids are brighter than others. Turner Gill will get to the Orange Bowl more quickly than you'll pull that one off, Bozo.

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overthemoon 2 years, 10 months ago

There is a gifted ed program that starts in the second or third grade. Students are screened for this track based on classroom performance and testing. (Mommy or Daddy being sure their average kid is the next Einstein rarely gets a child into the program if he/she is merely 'above average'.) We found the grade school program to be pretty toothless as they did try very hard to keep a low profile on the children to avoid social stigmas. It was kind of weird, and in my mind not nearly as challenging as the kids could have handled easily. In Junior Hi it became a crucial and vital part of our child's education. Seeds were sown by the excellent gifted ed coordinator that made a huge difference in a lot of student's lives. In high school, it was ok and there were lots of opportunities for students to do 'extra stuff'...but it was not really challenging in any real sense. What my child learned from taking one 'non-advanced' class is that what the majority of the students are getting in the way of 'education' are ridiculously inane worksheet assignments. No discussion, no writing, no research, The best thing our kid did was start taking classes at KU during the junior year of high school.

I thought at the time and still do think that most students would benefit and excel given a more challenging and interesting curriculum.

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overthemoon 2 years, 10 months ago

There is a gifted ed program that starts in the second or third grade. Students are screened for this track based on classroom performance and testing. (Mommy or Daddy being sure their average kid is the next Einstein rarely gets a child into the program if he/she is merely 'above average'.) We found the grade school program to be pretty toothless as they did try very hard to keep a low profile on the children to avoid social stigmas. It was kind of weird, and in my mind not nearly as challenging as the kids could have handled easily. In Junior Hi it became a crucial and vital part of our child's education. Seeds were sown by the excellent gifted ed coordinator that made a huge difference in a lot of student's lives. In high school, it was ok and there were lots of opportunities for students to do 'extra stuff'...but it was not really challenging in any real sense. What my child learned from taking one 'non-advanced' class is that what the majority of the students are getting in the way of 'education' are ridiculously inane worksheet assignments. No discussion, no writing, no research, The best thing our kid did was start taking classes at KU during the junior year of high school.

I thought at the time and still do think that most students would benefit and excel given a more challenging and interesting curriculum.

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chootspa 2 years, 10 months ago

Varies from kid to kid, but I've heard from plenty of parents who had no difficulty getting their kids admitted into the gifted program.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 10 months ago

This is an idea that has merit.

Bishop Seabury came about as a result of parents discovering their bright children were not being challenged to the fullest extent thus boredom.

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 10 months ago

Ring the gong, folks - the first accurate post ever submitted by merrill has now just appeared.

Sorry, snap, but even with merrill it had to happen sometime.

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devobrun 2 years, 10 months ago

Close, but no cigar folks. http://www.seaburyacademy.org/about_us/mission.cfm

Is about academic achievement and challenge to be sure. You left out the part about character development and moral principles. It is a huge part of the school. Lockers don't have locks. Honor code on assignments. There are many other aspects of the school that go beyond academics and that were there from the start.

BSA was started to challenge students to be better academically and morally. Both.

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 10 months ago

Very interesting. Thanks for the information. I'm a public school advocate who remembers when most public schools were more akin to what you describe.

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clovis_sangrail 2 years, 10 months ago

No, not the bright children. Bishop Seabury came about as a result of parents discovering their rich children were not getting the attention they thought their privileged spawn deserved.

Seabury has a very different standard of conduct and set of rules for those whose family name is on a plaque or a building.

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chootspa 2 years, 10 months ago

Rich and well-behaved children, who miraculously turn out to do academically fine in any setting, public or private. It's amazing how a group of already high achievers will continue to be a group of high achievers, but I'm sure they do prize the small classes and parochial environment. That's really the only thing their money is buying.

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clovis_sangrail 2 years, 10 months ago

I would dispute the "well-behaved" part. My kids went there, and the bullying was worse than in public high school. Furthermore, the staff did nothing to curtail it other than to single out the kids who complained about it and say " doesn't like it when you ." This, of course, simply results in more problems for the kid who reported it.

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chootspa 2 years, 10 months ago

To hear Devobrun talk about it, you'd think they all walked with the angels and sang with the saints.

Well, it makes me sad to think someone could send their child there in hope of a safer environment and end up with one that's worse. Especially with the small class sizes - there's no way you could avoid a bad situation in that case.

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