Saturday, February 23, 2008

Is it the UN or critical thinking some Utah lawmakers oppose?

This week brought new insights into how conservative lawmakers make decisions and demonstrated that even the most benign pieces of legislation can be derailed unexpectedly, even after receiving unanimous support in one of the chambers.

HB266 would have provided $300,000 to help several Utah high schools pay for their International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. However, with Senator Margaret Dayton, R - Utah County leading the charge, once legislators learned the IB program is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland (not that far from France –gasp) the legislation was in trouble. Senator Darin Peterson, R- Nephi, conducted a quick Google search, apparently during the hearing on the bill, and found acronyms and words like “UNESCO” and “Socialization” came up together with “International Baccalaureate”. Senator Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, told the Salt Lake Tribune he was “not yet comfortable with this based on some of the input I’ve received”, presumably from Senators Dayton and Peterson.

While Senator Peterson has obviously learned how to use the internet, he has yet to learn how to use the dictionary. His fixation on the word “socialization” is interesting. Clearly, based on comments in today’s Tribune story regarding the 3-3 senate committee vote that killed HB266, the Nephi Republican has confused any word with the root “social” as a reference to “socialism”. According to Senator Peterson “Socialization has been a failure everywhere it’s been tried. It’s not the system we work in, and it’s not the system that pays our education bills.”

Peterson was probably referring to information gleaned from the Eagle Forum’s webpage on the IB program which cites a UNESCO report entitled Worldwide Action in Education. No where on the Eagle Forum page is the IB program directly linked to a reference to “socialization”, though “socialization”- as opposed to socialism – is a common goal of education. It is also a common goal for parents by the way, if by socialization we mean the development of strong social skills, and we do.

The Eagle Forum, quoting from the UNESCO report, frowns upon statements like “Socialization: Education . . . for all the world's citizens . . . is essential because education is the principal means for preparing people to participate effectively in the development of their communities . . ." After reading this I thought of emailing or calling Senator Peterson and asking him what better than education he thinks prepares “people to participate effectively in the development of their communities.” Instead, I encourage you to do so. He can be reached at 435-623-2271 or dpeterson@utahsenate.org. He apparently doesn’t mind you calling him at home given his number is posted on the Senate roster.

But this isn’t a case of Senator Peterson or his colleagues simply being lazy and using Google to quickly identify flimsy excuses to vote against a bill. An IB student asked about the latest Utah Senate silliness described the program this way: “Pretty much every IB class is a discussion class, and students often direct that conversation. It teaches you to think critically.” (Emphasis added). I think that last bit is of real concern to right wing ideologues that look upon any educational method that explores different perspectives and fosters debate in the classroom as potential trouble.

The right has become fond of criticizing opponents as “unpatriotic” and pointing to science instruction in our public schools as “anti-religion”. We are all familiar with Ann Coulter’s bit about all liberals being “traitors”. Critical thinking skills are not something you want in a population you are trying to sell such a black and white view of the world to.

If allowing students to explore competing ideas in the classroom is an example of “anti-Americanism” then the far right is taking this country down a dangerous road. There is nothing more patriotic than a class full of teenagers debating differing points of view and learning to think critically. I am not sure there is much that qualifies as less patriotic than letting Google do the hard work of legislating for you because you didn’t take the time to educate yourself on what was being voted on in advance.

5 comments:

Hello Dashing said...

I don't even have words to tell you how disgusted I am with Margaret Dayton. She just threw out her opinion without even trying to justify it or ask questions about the program. Hell, if Gayle Ruzicka and the Eagle Forum say it is bad... it must be bad. Who keeps electing these people?

Anonymous said...

Senator Dayton did Utah a big favor by killing this legislation.

As one who had a child in this program I can attest it is very ant-American; if there is a problem in the world, whether it be economic, social, political or environmental, the US gets the blame.

There are plenty of other programs out there that teach our children to think critically, for example the Great Books Program, which liberals bemoan as being too many readings by dead white males.

Thank you Senator Dayton for your pro-active and brave stance in seeing that this program does not see the light of day in Utah.

Anonymous said...

I have been working with IB students for almost 20 years and have never seen anti-American sentiments.
Perhaps it would be helpful to look at a couple of quotes from respected sources who have done their research

From BeSmart.com--
“We strongly encourage you to enroll in AP (Advanced Placement) or IB
(International Baccalaureate) classes where available. Students who take
these courses will receive extra value in the admissions process when
applying to any CES school and will also receive college credit based on
AP and IB end-of-year test scores. Research has shown that students who
take these college prep courses are better prepared for the rigors of
college.”

http://www.besmart.com/high_school_prep.php


From President George Bush State of the Union: American Competitiveness
Initiative
American Competitiveness Initiative: Leading the World in
Innovation
State of the Union 2006
“Education Is The Gateway To Opportunity And The Foundation Of A
Knowledge-Based, Innovation-Driven Economy. To prepare our citizens to
compete more effectively in the global marketplace, the American
Competitiveness Initiative proposes $380 million in new Federal support
to improve the quality of math, science, and technological education in
our K-12 schools and engage every child in rigorous courses that teach
important analytical, technical, and problem-solving skills. Building on
the successes of the No Child Left Behind Act, the American
Competitiveness Initiative will raise student achievement in math and
science through testing and accountability, providing grants for
targeted interventions, and developing curricula based on proven methods
of instruction. The American Competitiveness Initiative includes a
number of new and expanded programs, including:
• The Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate (AP/IB)
Program to expand access of low-income students to AP/IB coursework by
training 70,000 additional teachers over five years to lead AP/IB math
and science courses.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/01/20060131-5.html

Anonymous said...

B Schools in U.S. Under U.N. Law


Google Ads are provided by Google and are not selected or endorsed by Eagle Forum


International Baccalaureate: An Analysis of Jurisdiction

By Lyn Rahman

The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), based in Geneva, Switzerland, offers three different International Baccalaureate (IB) programs and is responsible for assisting schools with implementation so that children learn how to become "engaged world citizens" (IBO, 2006).

The three IB programs offered are: Primary Years Program (PYP) for children ages 3 to 12, a Middle Years Program (MYP) for children ages 11 to 16, and a Diploma Program (DP) for children ages 16 to 19 (IBO, 2006). All of the programs come with tests administered by the IBO.

Like many other schools in the United States, some Oklahoma schools offer at least one of the three IB programs at the taxpayers' expense.

In addition to concerns about the organization's philosophy and the costs for schools to join these programs, there is sufficient reason to call attention to the governance of the programs offered by the IBO and Oklahoma statutes regarding same.

Swiss Law Governs IBO Procedures and Dispute Processes
To offer IB programs, schools undergo a process governed by the IBO. Once complete, the schools operate with the guidance and support of the organization.

In its Rules for Authorized Schools, the schools must "abide by all the IBO regulations and procedures" (IBO, 2005, p.18).

Interestingly, Article 12 notes that Swiss law governs the Rules and all other documentation related to the authorization for teaching an IB program (IBO, 2005, p.22) (emphasis added).

Under Article 13, arbitration is the way to resolve disputes regarding the Rules. The arbitration process consists of three arbitrators who act under the Rules of Arbitration from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Switzerland; the seat for arbitration is in Geneva (IBO, 2005, p.22).

These same provisions for governance exist in the following IBO documentation intended for American schools:


The Application Procedure for Candidate Schools (IBO, 2005, p.28)

The Diploma Programme general regulations
Hearings are confidential, thus making it hard to determine whether any school in the United States had to settle a dispute before Swiss arbitrators. At present, it is difficult to prove whether a United States court dismissed a case regarding a dispute over the IB program based on a lack of jurisdiction. However, there are two known pieces of documentation questioning the governance of the IB programs.

First, in McLoughlin v. Locust Valley Central School District, 44 Ed Dept ___ [Decision No. 15,191], the petitioners alleged that there was a violation of rights because the school district entered into a contract giving exclusive jurisdiction to courts in Switzerland. Unfortunately, the New York State Education Commissioner ruled the question of jurisdiction moot, stating that the petitioners lacked standing since their children were not enrolled in the IB program. Id.

Second, an IBO Task Force appointed by the Owego-Apalachin School District in New York, reported that concerns over jurisdiction existed. In Item No. 5 of the Task Force's findings, the body reports:


. . . according to the terms of the legal agreement between the local school district and the International Baccalaureate Organization, disputes between the school district or its enrolled students would be subject to international arbitration rules whose arbiters would have final authority on MYP. (Task Force, 2004) (Emphasis added.)
Even though arbitration is generally an alternative to lawsuits, it appears Oklahoma schools are also subject to the governance of a foreign body while applying and operating as an IB school.

The UN Commission on International Trade Law is the
Basis for Switzerland's International Rules of Arbitration
As of January 1, 2004, Switzerland replaced its arbitration rules with that of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, otherwise known as UNCITRAL ("New Swiss Rules," 2004). According to UNCITRAL's web site, this organization is the "core legal body" of the United Nations, whose goal is to promote "commercial law reform" across the globe (UNCITRAL, 2006).

One can argue anything to be a matter of commerce. This includes intrastate and interstate travel, purchases and the shipment of same and even purchases for services rendered. Technically, one could argue the International Baccalaureate to be a service rendered as schools do pay and contract with the IBO, which could possibly make schools subject to many laws and rules developed by the United Nations.

Returning to the matter of arbitration, though the IBO document does not specify the United Nations' arbitration rules by title, Article 1(1) in the Swiss Rules of Arbitration (2006) states:


These Rules shall govern international arbitrations, where an agreement to arbitrate refers to these Rules, or to the arbitration rules of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Basel, Bern, Geneva, Ticino, Vaud, Zurich and any further Chamber of Commerce and Industry that may adhere to these Rules. (Emphasis added.)
As mentioned earlier, the basis of the Swiss rules comes from rules created by the legal branch of the United Nations, that established rules for international arbitration. Neither Switzerland nor the United Nations operates under American law, which seems to be further proof our children and IB schools in America become a subject of so-called international law once the school signs a contract with the IBO. The State of Oklahoma is not an exception with its statutes.

Information Sharing Between a State and a Foreign Entity
Oklahoma law recognizes IB courses and defines same as "a high school level preparatory course for an International Baccalaureate examination that incorporates each topic specified by the International Baccalaureate Organization on its standard syllabus." 70 O.S. §1210.702(5) (OSCN)(2000).

Additionally, the statute defines an IB exam to mean one "administered by the International Baccalaureate Organization." 70 O.S. §1210.702(6) (OSCN) (2000). Furthermore, Oklahoma law allows the State Department of Education (SDE) to keep tabs on the test scores of Oklahoma students enrolled in an IB Program:

"Upon completion of the test, the State Department of Education shall obtain from the.International Baccalaureate Organization a list of students in Oklahoma who scored a four or higher on the International Baccalaureate test . . ." 70 O.S. §1210-703(B)(OSCN)(2001)

The aforementioned statutes show that to get student names with a certain score, the SDE must go through the International Baccalaureate. It does not mention the names of students who obtained a lower score, but seems to suggest that the IBO would have those names as well, and is therefore tracking all Oklahoma's students enrolled in the program. At any rate, all of the above-mentioned statutes are misleading as they do not detail the location of the IBO.

Parents with little information would not realize that a foreign body maintains "a list of students" where there is no guarantee of security. These statutes do not exert control over the IB, nor can they, since the governing law is not that of the state, but of Swiss law.

Conclusion
It is evident that the IB programs available to students are not within the actual control of the state, but that of a foreign body that can amend its laws as they see fit or, more correctly, at the determination of the United Nations' legal branch. Moreover, the State of Oklahoma continues to support schools that sign a contract with the IBO through its statutes and funding. Our own statutes show a kind of willingness to erode our own sovereignty by submitting to an international organization where an American school would essentially have to resolve its disputes according to the rules of a foreign body — the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Lyn Rahman is an education researcher with Oklahomans for School Accountability.

References
70 O.S. §1210.702(5) (OSCN)(2000)

70 O.S. §1210.702(6) (OSCN)(2000)

70 O.S. §1210-703(B)(OSCN)(2001)

International Baccalaureate Organization. (2001). Diploma programme general regulations.

International Baccalaureate Organization. (2006). Discover a world of education. Retrieved March 20, 2006

International Baccalaureate Organization. (2005). Information for prospective schools.

International Baccalaureate Task Force. (2004). Final report. Retrieved March 1, 2006

McLoughlin v. Locust Valley Central School District, 44 Ed Dept ___ [Decision No. 15,191] Swiss rules. (2006). Retrieved March 24, 2006

United Nations Commission on International Trade Law. (2006). Welcome to the UNCITRAL web site. Retrieved March 24, 2006

Walter Wyss & Partners. (2004). Global Practice Review. New Swiss rules of arbitration. July 2004(8). Zurich, Switzerland. Retrieved March 24, 2006

UtahTeacher said...

This same anonymous individual(s?) commented over at my blog and on the original Tribune article. The person first claimed to be a concerned New Hampshire blogger with personal knowledge of IB and posted 7 or 8 EdWatch articles on the Trib comment board.

He didn't comment further after I told him I didn't believe some guy from New Hampshire would be reading and commenting on my little blog just a few hours after I posted. I thought he was a Utah troll, but maybe he's an Oklahoman troll. The commenter obviously has not actually been to an IB school, and his second comment above about stopping the program from "seeing the light of day" shows he didn't actually read the articles and learn there are seven high schools already using the IB program in Utah (Provo High is 5 minutes from Senator Dayton's house.) where any concerned party could see the classes being taught.

This little organization, Oklahomans For School Accountability (OFSA), seems to be Oklahoma's Sutherland Institute, but even more blatantly religious:
http://www.operationinformation.com/

"...we encourage parents to become active in the effort to return education in America to one of high academic standards and a Biblical worldview."

The organization seems obsessed with conspiracies about UN infiltration and the NAU, and another blogger attended their special seminar connected to the EdWatch group quoted by the original troll.
http://www.tulsatopics.com/tulsatopics/2006/02/oklahomans_for_school_accounta_1.html

I wouldn't be terribly surprised if they had a person or two dedicated to keeping tabs on IB-related legislation around the country...and then anonymously commenting on blogs (think PCE's hired, young, Christian guns and all of the anonymous comments before the referendum) or sending their "research" to rightwing legislators. Margaret Dayton's reasoning in the paper appears to be from the exact article in the comment above.