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'Anti-American' wasn't best word choice, legislator says

Published: Sunday, March 2 2008 12:26 a.m. MST

International Baccalaureate "anti-American"? A conservative Utah lawmaker now wishes she could have chosen her critical words a little more carefully.

Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Provo, said Friday the program "does some good things in this state."

"I don't like any (outside influences) interfering with our education," said Dayton, known for championing "states' rights" in railing against the U.S. Department of Education and No Child Left Behind.

"But I probably could have worded my concerns a little differently."

In a recent Senate Education Committee hearing, Dayton panned the rigorous high school diploma program as pushing a United Nations and global philosophy that apparently is bad for kids.

"I'm opposed to the anti-American philosophy somehow woven into all the classes as they promote the U.N. agenda," she said.

The committee downed HB266, sponsored by Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay. The bill sought $300,000 to help defray costs of the program at West, Hunter, Hillcrest, Skyline, Provo, Clearfield and Bountiful high schools.

Dayton said there are "a lot of parents, and some teachers, who tell me my comments were justified."

But public criticism roared.

GOP legislative leaders last week made available $100,000 for HB266, which had sailed through the House.

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., whose son is enrolled in West's IB program, also chimed in.

"I asked (my son) the other night if he felt any undue influence by the United Nations," the governor said with a smile in an interview last week. "He assured me he did not."

Asked if the comments criticizing the IB program hurt the state's economic development efforts here and abroad, Huntsman said it's not unusual for such statements to surface during the Legislature.

"Every year you have to have a few of them, and that's fine," the governor said. "That's to be expected in the legislative session, a few memorable sound bites."


E-mail: jtcook@desnews.com, lisa@desnews.com

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