Expanding International Baccalaureate Opportunities
Mike Wilkinson in the Detroit News has written an article “More Metro Detroit districts start own International Baccalaureate programs” about nearby districts that believed not enough of their students could be served by the International Academy and have decided that their districts can rectify this problem. Farmington, Southfield, Oxford, Walled Lake, Novi, and Clarkston have IB programs or are implementing them. Rochester Community Schools is not and I do not know if it is still under consideration at all for our district.
I enjoyed talking with Mike while he was researching for this article and am thankful he has made known that there are advocates for the IB Curriculum in the RCS school district. (Mike has more articles in the Schools section of the Detroit News.)
While Mike has focused on the IB Diploma Programme for high schools, he mentions that some districts, like Oxford, are working on a K-12 International Baccalaureate curriculum covering primary and middle years as well. I still believe that a K-12 IB school for Rochester Community Schools would be of great benefit for our district and give a choice to families for education.
I also believe that “choice” and “families” are vital in this for its success. The IB curriculum can be very rigorous and very demanding. To populate an IB school with students who do not choose to be there is to doom it to mediocrity. Students must be willing to put in the effort because they value the education. Motivation to do hours of homework a night cannot be teacher-driven. It requires student commitment. And it requires family support. A student will not succeed without the family support. Of course, family support is a necessary component of all education, but a curriculum that requires longer days, a longer school year, and more homework requires the family to buy in.
A successful International Baccalaureate school also requires the commitment of the teachers and the administration. Longer days, a longer school year, an intense and rigid curriculum, and dedicated students are not the right fit for every teacher. Some may prefer the standard school year or flexibility in teaching a subject. Others may have gone into teaching to work with at-risk students that need help with motivation. For success, the right teachers need to be in place and be committed. The administration will need to help in identifying these teachers, looking at funding options to support more hours, and implementing the curriculum correctly.
For all parties involved, there should be a commitment to its success. We cannot treat the new IB school as just an experiment. It would be a disaster to create a poorly implemented IB school for our students while they lose the opportunity to attend the International Academy.
To the Board of Education and the teachers of Rochester Community Schools: Our students and our families are ready to make a strong commitment to educational success through the International Baccalaureate programs. Please join us by implementing IB schools for every qualified child who chooses this rigorous path to learning.