Texas Group Worries International Baccalaureate Program Is Turning Students into Leftists

The folks over at Texas Eagle Forum, the state chapter of Phyllis Schlafly’s far-right organization, are worried that “leftist” ideology is infiltrating the state’s public schools through the widely respected International Baccalaureate (IB) program. Seriously.

Writing in the group’s May newsletter (which is now available online), Texas Eagle Forum Vice President MerryLynn Gerstenschlager wrings her hands over students at an IB charter school in New Mexico who voted this year for a “Prom-munism” theme  at their end-of-school dance. While students explained that the event theme was intended as something of a joke, right-wingers have latched on to it as an example communism on the rise among American youth.

And Gerstenschlager fears that the International Baccalaureate program is to blame and suggests Texas schools should dump it:

“Could the IB program in an American public school classroom be at the heart of America’s continuing move to the left?

What is wrong with an American education, where our kids learn about American exceptionalism and the things that have made America a shining city on a hill? What could have possibly happened in that IB classroom that skewed such bright minds so much that they lost their way?

Maybe Texas should reconsider this push for an international education through the International Baccalaureate program.”

Yeah, maybe students would be better off with the “superior” education offered by the heavily politicized curriculum standards in Texas — standards requiring students to learn that Moses influenced the writing of the Constitution, that the roots of western government today can be found in the Old Testament and the philosophies of medieval theologians, that slavery wasn’t the cause of the American Civil War and that infamous Red-baiter Joseph McCarthy was right. Brilliant.

This isn’t the first time right-wingers in Texas have targeted the IB program, a rigorous academic program used widely around the world. A few years back conservatives on the State Board of Education worried that Texas students in the IB program were being influenced by French ideas. (Again, seriously.) Other right-wing critics have claimed the program promotes Marxism and anti-Americanism.

Sounds like the right is gearing up for a new assault on IB classes in Texas schools.

10 thoughts on “Texas Group Worries International Baccalaureate Program Is Turning Students into Leftists

  1. Oh, those people have no concept of how insane their comments are.
    The country is moving to the left because of the excesses of the right.
    What the right wants is total control over everything including reducing what was the middle class to nothing more than serfs while the the far right turns this country into one huge Christian church where all the money flows into their pockets.
    Slavery was the cause of the civil war, that is just a simple fact of history. The United States is a SECULAR COUNTRY, but those who hate the constitution and other documents that say this country was not founded on the Christian religion is ignored by those who would steal our liberties.
    They scream that they are being attacked. By whom????????????? Christianity seems to be on the beginning of its end. Young people are leaving in droves because they do not want to be yelled at that if they do not toe the line they preach they’re going to an eternal hell.
    I had to run out of a church once (a friend had asked me to attend) when the screamer at the front kept trying to get people to accept Jesus. After the tenth time I could no longer hold my laughter. I guess they get paid by the number of people who go up front.


  2. I was watching a documentary on International fundamentalist religious movements, and it said the the common thread that binds them all (Christian fundamentalism, Islamic fundamentalism, Hindu fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism, Buddhist fundamentalism, etc.) is the FEAR OF ANNIHILATION—more specifically an abject and all-pervasive fear of religious, cultural, and subcultural annihilation. Well, crap. I guess the cat is out of the bag now. We were hoping to sneak up on them from behind before they figured it out.

  3. I have a niece who graduated in the U.S. with an IB degree so I do know something about the program. The IB program emphasizes multiculturalism, critical thinking, language acquisition and development, globalization, sustainability, and community service in addition to arts, humanities, science, and math. In short, the IB program is the polar opposite of the sort of program Texas Republicans want Texas students to learn for their place in Texas’s vast service economy, where citizens grow up retaining their native bigotries, their distractions of sports, guns, and religion, their willful ignorance of other countries and peoples in the world, and their uncritical devotion to American Exceptionalism and the lightly-regulated capitalist/free enterprise economy. No wonder Reactionary Religious Right Republicans such as MerryLynn Gerstenschlager oppose the IB degree program. Did I mention that the curriculum standards of the IB program are not under the thumb of the Texas State Board of Education but rather of a multinational group of education experts? You know those education experts–the ones who care about the intellectual and emotional self-actualization of humans more than the profits of corporations and job-creators–the polar opposite of sentiments in Texas. And you know those “leftists”–the ones who have mastered critical thinking, cooperation rather than aggression, empathy with other humans, and contempt for mindless authoritarianism.

  4. I can hope that this is a case of “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

  5. Oh ladies this is such an important issue. With Baptist picnics and Jr. LEAGUE meetings and managing your colored help how on earth do tired old white ladies find the time? Tell mother of the year Phylis hello – her 100th birthday must be next weeks. KIND Regards, fools.

    1. She will be in the cemetery soon—and hopefully her organization with her. The supply of nutty old white women must be close to running out by now—or will be in the next 20 years.

  6. Toward the end of my teaching career, I was on the committee to implement the IB program in our school district. Once the proposal was announced, I began research into the nuts and bolts of the program. It began in the early sixties after so many international workers struggled with schooling for their children. The thought was to create a rigorous curriculum that was the same throughout the world. If someone left a job in Paris, moving to Singapore, the curriculum would be the same. The program isn’t for everyone, or even most students. The demands are high, with much emphasis on writing and critical analysis. The social studies program is labeled “Individuals and Societies”, indicating a wide breath of understanding. This is probably the part that people like Schafly object to. They actually learn there is more to earth than just the Unites States. Science, math, other language acquisition and the arts are included. Each student must complete a major paper under the supervision of a certified instructor, not unlike a mini college thesis. And, there is a strong component of community service required. I suspect most people, should they actually research the IB program, would find little disagreement. But, that would not serve the purpose and goals of the anti-public education segments of our society. Isn’t working though. IB is growing across this country and the world. Our school began with hope of about seventy students enrolled. Membership has now exceeded four hundred, in spite of a rigorous vetting process. Sometimes the good guys do win!

    1. Good for your former school district, dbtexas. 400 students in your IB degree program. I mentioned that my niece got an IB degree. Because of that and her high scores, she got a full scholarship at Vasser. She spent a semester in France and learned French. Next she got an MA at the University of Chicago. This all started with the IB degree which is a wonderful opportunity for US students. No wonder the best students want an IB degree, now a prestigious and desirable degree.

      And again, as I mentioned before, the curriculum standards for this degree are not controlled by the Texas SBOE, so our best Texas students and their parents understand what is both good (IB degree) and bad (typical Texas public school HS degrees with SBOE standards) in public education. Word is getting out!

  7. Excellent comments above. I recently had the opportunity to visit Montréal & Toronto. My experiences made the notion of “American Exceptionalism” seem even more absurd.

  8. In science, the processes that are going on today are assumed to have been going on in the past, and this fact is used in creating theories.
    It is the same with human history; most of the Northern States had laws that barred the entry and employment of blacks, prior to the war. The slaves that were in the North were sold to the Southern owners, when slavery was outlawed in the North. Any reading of Northern history will inform that the Northern people had no negative opinion of slavery before the war, but the did have a negative opinion of blacks being anywhere in the USA. Lincoln himself worked to remove blacks to other countries until the day he was shot.
    So we are to believe the Northern people went to war with the Southern people because the North wanted to “free” the slaves, so the newly freed slaves could move North and take the jobs of Northern people? I think not. When Lincoln “freed” the slaves, two years into the war, to possibly create an uprising of the slaves, the riots by Northern troops gave a strong answer to what Lincoln said.
    It was not slavery that was the issue, but blacks being in the USA that was the issue. When the Southern States left the Union, that opened the door to the expansion of slavery (blacks) and the North could not tolerate a powerful Confederate States of America, that tolerated black people.