Though newly appointed Bedford School Board Chairman Don Graff stressed the meeting with the New Hampshire legislators had been scheduled a month earlier – to discuss the various bills and proposals that may impact SAU 25 – only one subject was on the minds of those in the overflow crowd of former and current Bedford High School Students, parents and teachers.
And one by one, most took their two- to three-minute turn, some rising from prime front-row realty they found on the SAU 25 meeting roomfloor, while others squeezed through the crowd that had filled the hallway.
The common message: "Save IB."
Indeed, Bedford is one of two Granite State school districts that currently offer International Baccalaureate (IB) education, a sometimes controversial program that is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and connected to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
And following a recent 209-102, veto-proof majority vote by the NH House of Representatives, Bedford could be one of two school districts (along with Merrimack Valley) to lose the program should the senate approve the legislation.
House Bill 1403, which Bedford SB vice chairman Terry Wolf said originally called for a students and parents to choose the school district they'd like to attend, was amended prior to the vote to say, in part:
“In continuing recognition of the duty to provide public school pupils with fundamental knowledge and learning as established by the New Hampshire Constitution and the Constitution of the United States of America, 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:
- Use of a specific name to promote the school, such as “world school;” or
- Required inspections or visits to ensure compliance with programs, rules, or polices of the foreign body or organization; or
- A requirement that arbitration of disputes relating to the implementation of any program be conducted outside of the State of New Hampshire, or be settled by, or in accordance with, any source of legal authority other than state or federal law.“
IB, currently in its fourth year at Bedford High School, certainly qualifies for elimination under those standards.
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