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Setting the record straight on Fenton’s IB program

Majority of students are in IB classes

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Posted: Friday, September 28, 2012 4:02 pm

 Fenton — There’s only a handful of kids in the program. It costs the Fenton schools hundreds of thousands of dollars. Teachers are taking luxurious, expensive trips for training on the taxpayer’s dollar. It’s brainwashing students.

 These are some of the assertions made in the Hot lines and in the community about the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program at Fenton Area Public Schools. Since its inception in 2009, the IB Program has been shrouded in myth by those outside of the classroom.

 Ask students or teachers in classroom however, and you’ll only hear praise. The IB program focuses on international education, where students learn about various cultures around the world. The program also emphasizes hands-on research and learning secondary languages.

 “You learn as much about yourself as you do about the material,” said Jacob Keesee, a senior at Fenton High School. “(The classes) teach how important it is to learn and grow as a person.”

 Fenton High School IB Director Sara Armstrong likened the IB Program to the Socratic Method, where students learn through a series of questioning and answering. Classes are structured on discussion between students with teachers acting as guides for each discussion. English teacher George Kralosky said the classes focus more on individual growth rather than teaching to a test.

 “It really is student driven. It’s all oral or written exams,” Kralosky said. “None of it has objective test.” Kralosky, who has been teaching for 42 years, believes IB courses gauge a student’s knowledge more accurately than other methods of teaching.

 One criticism amongst parents and students is that the classes at Fenton High School are too crowded. Kralosky admits 25 students to a classroom is ideal, but said scheduling conflicts exist within the high school and not just with the IB program.

 “You adapt, that’s life,” Kralosky said. “It’s always a work in progress.”

 Armstrong views the classes as rigorous and will prepare students to compete on a global level. And while the program has garnished much public comment, Armstrong said, “any change will garner a lot of comments — good or bad.”

 “Many students will take on jobs that are not even invented yet,” Armstrong said. “They will have to know other cultures.”

 Superintendent Timothy Jalkanen said the IB Program costs the school district $300,000 a year or about 1 percent of the district’s budget. Every student from Kindergarten to 10th grade manditorily take IB courses, which Jalkanen said accounts for more than 2,850 students. IB courses for high school juniors and seniors are voluntary. Students can choose to take as many IB courses as they want and those who take all six and complete other requirements are awarded an IB diploma upon graduation.

 Of the junior and senior class, there are 16 students pursuing the full IB diploma program. However, 179 juniors and seniors are taking at least one IB course this year, which accounts for 31 percent of juniors and seniors.

 Credit for IB classes vary amongst universities. Armstrong said it is the student’s responsibility to research how much credit they can receive.

 “Even if we don’t get college credit, we’re still gaining skills,” said senior Rose Joynt. “It’s giving us a broader perspective. It’s stuff that makes us think.”

 Teacher training for the IB Program is included with the $300,000 budget. While teachers did have to leave the state for training during the first few years, Jalkanen said more teachers are being trained in state in areas like Detroit and Midland. While the training may seem excessive to some, Jalkanen said Fenton Area Schools needs the IB Program.

 “Critical thinking skills, reasoning and problem solving abilities are becoming more and more important for the success of students after graduating from high school,” Jalkanen said. “At Fenton we are working to raise the educational bar for each and every student.”

 Juniors and seniors in IB pay a one-time fee of $141 and $96 for the course-ending test, which is mandatory, Armstrong said. Students in IB classes are given weighted grades, having the opportunity to earn above a 4.0 grade point average. Federal and state government funding is available to students who do not have the finances available to take IB courses.

 “It’s a preparation for my own perspective. It makes the school environment much more enjoyable,” said senior Josh Muhleck.



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  • anonymous posted at 11:30 am on Wed, Nov 5, 2014.

    anonymous Posts: 4405

    TAIB at 8:23 ... it is well-known in internet forums that those without substance with which to counter a point will attack a post's grammatical content.

  • Truth About IB posted at 8:23 pm on Mon, Oct 1, 2012.

    Truth About IB Posts: 1

    Sniles said:

    "also my husband who is a dean of college education has always said, if parents new [SIC] how difficult the first year of college is for many young people who consistently have to take remedial course work there [SIC] first year of college because of lack of math and english, maybe we should reconsider there [SIC] high school courses."

    If your husband really is a dean of college, I sure hope his English is a lot better than yours! [crying]

  • sniles posted at 1:06 pm on Sun, Sep 30, 2012.

    sniles Posts: 1

    Having a teenager in the ib program who has been in it since 5th grade i can say that she is ahead of the game. For those that feel that it is a waste of tax payer dollars, maybe we need to consider this: our kids today lag in education in comparison to some other countries, also my husband who is a dean of college education has always said, if parents new how difficult the first year of college is for many young people who consistently have to take remedial course work there first year of college because of lack of math and english, maybe we should reconsider there high school courses. When many families cant afford to send their children to college, I think this is a gift to work towards those scholarships and grants, what better investment than our young people.

  • Sunny78 posted at 9:44 am on Sat, Sep 29, 2012.

    Sunny78 Posts: 0

    so 16 students seeking the full program out of 2800- yep that's alot of bang for your buck for global citizen program that has such proven results and so widely accepted from universities

  • AlmostAnIBParent posted at 9:10 am on Sat, Sep 29, 2012.

    AlmostAnIBParent Posts: 0

    So IB is mandatory for all students K-10, have all the parents been notified all aspects of IB, including the fact that IB is a United Nations sponsored programme? Learn more about why IB is not a good fit for most schools here,

  • Truth About IB posted at 7:49 am on Sat, Sep 29, 2012.

    Truth About IB Posts: 1

    Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Lisa McLoughlin and I am the administrator of the website www.truthaboutib.com or TAIB. TAIB is the premier source on the web for all information about the International Baccalaureate (IB) Organization and its 3 "programmes" that IB and your schools don't want you to know.

    Fenton schools are PUBLIC schools. It is absolutely unconscionable that Fenton administration has dictated that EVERY student 'MANDITORILY" participate in IB. Not only is this unconscionable, it is unConstitutional.

    The IB PYP and MYP are not curricula. They are nothing more than a "beliefs and values" system, based on inculcating Fenton's littlest students with the "beliefs and values" of UNESCO and the UDHR. This amounts to government establishment of religion (even if that religion is secular humanism) and is prohibited under the Establishment Clause of our First Amendment.

    Where are the accommodations for special needs students? Where are the results of this outrageously expensive, ideological, foreign, inflexible, choice-eliminating programme? None are reported in the above article, and the $300,000 mentioned surely does not include salaries and benefits for the mandatory IB Coordinators.

    I have witnessed this sort of media "damage control" across the country. It grows tiresome. Parents - those of you being demonized by the Press and school district as making "mythical assertions" and spreading "misinformation" are in the right. You have EVERY right to not only demand the truth about IB but to oust it from your district.

    The only way to do this is to vote in new fiscally responsible BoE Trustees who understand the massive waste of your taxdollars on IB. It can be done. It will take at least two years, but it can be done. Expect a battle like none you have ever encountered before. But these are YOUR schools, YOUR children and YOUR taxdollars. Don't buy the double-talk and slick IB marketing. YOUR kids don't get a "do-over" on their school years. Public education should be APOLITICAL and Socrates didn't have UNESCO whispering in his ear. [cool]


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