Educational excellence threatened by legislation, Letter to the Bedford Journal, 4/6/12

posted Apr 7, 2012, 9:19 AM by Bill Duncan
Friday, April 6, 2012

To the editor:

Education – specifically high quality education – has long been a high priority in Bedford. Bedford taxpayers and voters have, with only a few exceptions, supported that priority. People move to Bedford because of the quality of our schools. In the past several years, even more have joined our community because of the reputation for excellence at Bedford High School (one of four finalists for the Excellence in Education Award).

You need to know that excellence is being threatened by legislation recently passed in Concord (HB1403), and you need to know how your representatives voted on this legislation. Voting against this bad legislation were representatives John Graham and Ed Moran. (Thank you, gentlemen). Voting for this bad legislation were John Cebrowski, Ken Hawkins, Keith Murphy and Moe Villeneuve.

Briefly, HB1403 seeks to limit and/or eliminate the International Baccalaureate program. It does so on the premise that the program minimizes the sovereignty of both the state of New Hampshire and the United States of America. Specifically, from HB1403:

“A public school or public academy shall be deemed to meet school approval standards only if the curriculum and instruction of the school or academy promotes state and national sovereignty and is not subject to the governance of a foreign body or organization. Proof of governance of a foreign body or organization may be demonstrated in several ways, including, but not limited to:

(a) Use of a specific name to promote the school, such as ‘world school’; or

(b) Required inspections or visits to ensure compliance with programs, rules, or polices of the foreign body or organization”

On the surface, not all that threatening, but frankly it is chasing a bogeyman that does not exist and borders on 1950’s era McCarthy-ism. The fear by the proponents of this bill is that nefarious people will direct our curriculum in such a way as to promote a “foreign” social agenda. I have met with multiple IB teachers and coordinators and I can find no one who feels pressured to comply with any rules or standards that do what the legislation seeks to preclude. The IB staff at Bedford and elsewhere with whom I have spoken are concerned with the rigor of the program and the quality of the education, not with a social agenda.

If implemented, this legislation can:

1. Cause Bedford High School to remove the IB program, thereby disrupting the program plans of the enrolled IB students.

2. Waste the funding already invested in the development of an excellent program supported by outstanding staff.

3. Cause Bedford to further invest tax dollars in new programming to fill the void left by IB.

The United States Army promotes the International Baccalaureate Program to the families of our service people around the world. It provides a consistent and rigorous standard assuring high quality education. It does NOT threaten either national or state sovereignty.

Do the research. Talk to some IB students. Talk to some IB teachers. Talk to school and district administrators. I have, and I am comfortable with what Bedford has implemented.

A few people tried to stop this program in Bedford and failed. What they failed to do locally they are now accomplishing through bad legislation at a state level. Don’t let them get away with it.

And don’t forget how your representatives voted, now and next November. Ask yourself if they truly represented you.