North Idaho high school to end lambasted international program

Curriculum was anti-American, protests claimed

Published: Monday, Aug. 13 2012 10:21 p.m. MDT

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — A northern Idaho school district decided Monday to discontinue an internationally focused curriculum once targeted by protesters as anti-American, citing lackluster performance and poor enrollment among some of its high school students.

The Coeur d'Alene School District's governing board voted 4-0 to phase out the International Baccalaureate program at Lake City High School, where the courses are optional and aim to give students a deeper understanding of world affairs while helping them prepare for college.

Trustees said another advanced studies program in the district's other high school is a better value.

"In times of diminishing funding, it has to be recognized that we may not be able to afford to be all things to all people," said school board Chairman Tom Hamilton, who added that he was not a believer in choice at any cost.

"I fully support choice when it can be proven effective, and when the cost is reasonable when compared to the value gained," Hamilton said. "After the number of years that we've had the IB program, I cannot say that IB is successful by these measurable standards."

An International Baccalaureate program is also offered at one of the district's elementary schools and those classes could be in the crosshairs next. School board member Terri Seymour asked the district to take an objective look at the value of the Hayden Meadows Elementary School program.

The district has spent nearly $1.35 million on International Baccalaureate classes since 2004. For the past three years, the program has been made available at Lake City High School while students at Coeur d'Alene High School have the option of Advanced Placement courses under another higher learning program.

The International Baccalaureate program will be eliminated after students who are currently enrolled finish their studies, said trustees, who voted to end the program at the high school level after hearing from supporters and critics of the classes.

Lawyer Duncan Koler of Hayden argued the program, which cost the district $50,630 last year, was a waste of money and divisive in the community. He's been a critic since 2010, when foes took to the streets in protest and said the classes spread anti-American ideology and were too closely linked to the United Nations.

Koler said the curriculum inserts "concepts that are politically charged, such as social justice, sustainability ... these are code terms that mean more than just what the words would normally mean, and we have great disagreement in the audience as to what those things mean."

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