I’m posting my comments to the MCCSC Board of Trustees at the April meeting. They were made before our director of elementary education described the cost of the program. I still feel this is a worthwhile investment, as long as we do not lose something valuable in return…and as long as it is made equitably.
First, I want to thank administrators and our school board for encouraging and supporting three MCCC elementary schools as they apply to the International Baccalaureate program. I am excited about this initiative. I attended an information session about this process at University Elementary last week. I came away with the impression that University’s staff is deeply prepared for and deeply committed to the challenge of becoming an IB school. It sounded like a lot of work. Teachers will be collaborating to develop a curriculum in which all subjects are thematically related around areas of inquiry, giving students the opportunity to explore subjects deeply, from many angles, and to connect and apply them in concrete ways. The program will also have a world language component.
Here are the goals that the IB program has for its learners: that they be inquirers, thinkers, communicators, and risk takers…that they become knowledgeable, principled, open-minded, caring, balanced, and reflective. The program aims to be developmentally appropriate and to support students’ social and emotional development.
These are worthwhile goals, and I believe that they reflect what Bloomington as a community wants for its children–for all of its children.
Of the three schools applying to become IB schools–University, Childs, and Templeton–two are very privileged schools that are already perceived as highly desirable. University and Childs have so much. In addition to their excellent and stable staffs, they serve well-educated and relatively affluent families. They have many parents who volunteer, and PTOs that fund-raise a lot of money.
The IB program represents curricular enrichment. My sense is that it will be a powerful draw and that it will have an effect on the perceived desirability of school-residential areas and thus on local real estate. It has the potential to exacerbate differences in school populations, or, if it is begun in Title 1 or less privileged schools, to lessen those differences. That is why I am very glad that Templeton is also applying.
I am grateful to our administrators for initiating and supporting the IB applications. I want to ask you, as a board, to encourage our administration to locate such efforts in a balanced way, with at least one Title I school for each lower poverty school. If the program goes well, I would love to see a plan for expansion that is very deliberate and transparent about distributing this curricular enrichment across schools.
I hope that one of your goals, as a board, is to strive for equity in the opportunities and quality of programs offered to children throughout our district.