"My questions are basically the same as the issues in the TFA post: does IB detract/distract from the goal of providing a quality education for all students? Does IB draw an inordinate share of the resources from the 'mainstream' program? Finally, does it actually offer something better?
Obviously, we believe the last to be affirmative or we would not have enrolled both of our kids in this program. The only anti-IB material I've seen is from some obviously nutty fundamentalist/ conservative corners, but I'm sure your readers must have some knowledge on the topic."I'll start with what I know, which isn't much since there weren't IB courses at my school--in fact, there were barely AP courses, I never taught IB or AP, and I have younger children. I've heard that IB courses are excellent--they're rigorous, multi-dimensional, and full of essential content. I've heard many educators and parents alike declare the approach and curricula to be superior to that of APs.
As for ethical considerations, from what I've heard that depends on how the program is implemented. In the county where I currently live, no school has a dedicated IB program; there are only IB courses. That means there's no application process and that anyone can take an IB course, especially if recommended by a counselor or teacher. Also if one county high school has a program that another doesn't, the county will bus students who want to participate in that program to the school, so no matter which neighborhood a student lives in, they can take advantage of any program the county offers. Some other districts have magnet IB schools or programs (schools within schools) where it's an all or nothing thing. Usually the kids who get into the programs are the ones with parents most likely to be able to advocate to get them in or who advocate to bring a magnet program to their neighborhood school in the first place.
As for IB programs taking away from "mainstream" programs, I think that only happens if the school or district lets is happen. If IB courses include best teaching practices and offer great curricula, I don't see what good it does anyone to NOT offer them. A district would have to make sure, though, that IB is not offered at the expense of best practices and great curricula for students in other courses as well as make sure IB courses are accessible and encouraged for ALL students who are academically capable or prepared. (And yes, Michael Lopez, if you're out there, I know this gets us into the capable vs. prepared discussion. I need to learn more before deciding where I stand.)
Readers, what do you know about IB? Do tell below.
UPDATE: Since composing this post, I found two relevant posts from other blogs that I regularly read. This one is from Joanne Jacobs, about tracking, and this one is from a school principal named Mel Riddle who blogs for "The Principal Difference."