Letters

Letters from the week of February 5, 2004

Why does New Times not celebrate the hard work and achievements of these children and write about all the community service they do and how involved they are at their schools? I guess that wouldn't be the kind of article that sells "personal ads."

Pat Wright
Phoenix

Learning what matters: I graduated from the IB program at North High 10 years ago. I found your recent article about the IB program both curious and disappointing that time has not helped to change the culture. Although we weren't as cruel as the current IB students profiled in your article, the divisions and prejudices you highlight were just as prevalent a decade ago as they appear to be today.

The reasons behind this strange culture can be explained using simple math. The administration, both at the school level and the district level, has long supported the separation of the IB students from the general population because the investment pays off. The IB students show up for class, which results in daily attendance dollars from the state. They also perform well on standardized tests, which keeps the school's overall average score much higher. Invest in a sure thing, right?

Why are students from the general population not permitted to attend college fairs, only the IB kids? It's not that IB kids have higher goals, but that someone told them that college was an option and supported them in their efforts. The truth is that most parents, educators and community members have given up on "those" kids by the time they reach high school. It is time that IB students step up to the plate and start acting like the leaders they hope to become.

In IB, it is still cool to learn, discuss your studies, and be smart. In general, American high school education has failed in making learning "cool." Idealistic, maybe, but Astrid can succeed, too, if given the opportunity. She may not have attended the best schools and may have to work much harder, but she can go to college, too. So I say to the IB kids, don't you dare take for granted the chance you have before you and how much hard work it took to get you there. There are others who have to work much harder.

The teachers in the IB program are rare gems -- Paul Lowes, Marilyn Buehler (retired), Michael Cady and Suellen Brahs (retired), just to name a few. They are shining examples of what educators can be. Learn all you can from them, but know there are some lessons that cannot be taught in the classroom. That is where "those people" can teach the IB kids a lesson or two. We all have different experiences, and those experiences have value. At my 10-year reunion, I had a chance to see people I knew and some I never knew. Rosie Garcia was not in the IB program, but I spent all four years in IB. She is now the mother of three young children. My little boy is 10 months old. I went to both undergraduate and graduate school, but in the end, I am no better at being a mom and wife than Rosie. We love our kids. Someday, these students will learn what really matters . . . and it isn't anything they learned in high school.

Tiffany (Powell) Huisman

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