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USC Board Votes to Convert Streams to All IB

More than 100 residents attended the four-hour school board meeting Monday night.

The Board voted Monday night to convert to an all-International Baccalaureate school in a phase-in approach.

The vote was 7-1. Board member Harry Kunselman voted against the recommendation because of budget uncertainties.

"It's premature at best to adopt the resolution given our current (financial) situation," he said. "It ties our hands too much."

More than 100 residents attended the four-hour meeting that took place in the 's LGI room.

Many of the residents who spoke at the meeting said they were against keeping the IB program in the school district. Some said they thought the program should only be available in private schools and didn't think taxpayers should have to pay for it. Others said they didn't like how IB, and the Primary Years Program in particular, divided the students and community.

According to , converting Streams into all IB will cost the district a $7,600 annual IBO enrollment fee, a $3,000 annual training fee, a $1,800 site visit from the IBO this year and $873 for summer workshop time this year.

O'Toole has said he doesn't anticipate any additional transportation costs because the bus drivers are paid for a two-and-a-half hour block of time in the mornings.

Board member Amy Billerbeck said all programs offered in the school have a cost attached to them—including AP, vocational and special education programs.

Board member Angela Petersen pointed out it will cost the district $2,000 to train one teacher as the high school changes its current honors physics course to AP physics B—a move that was also approved by the board Monday night.

Some residents said they were disappointed no survey was issued as O'Toole had suggested at an .

"Our decision was to use the enrollment data as the most accurate data that we have," O'Toole said.

About half of Streams students were enrolled in the PYP in the 2007-08 school year. This school year, 80 percent of students are enrolled in the PYP, with another 5 percent on the waiting list.

O'Toole said in the one traditional first grade classroom at Streams, nine of 18 kids are on the PYP waiting list. Of the 19 kids in the second grade traditional classroom, seven are on the PYP waiting list, he said.

The Streams conversion to all IB will take place during the next three years so students already at the school won't have to switch.

First and second graders in the traditional program will move to in the 2012-13 school year. Traditional third graders will move out and kindergarten will switch to the PYP program in the 2013-14 school year. Fourth graders will move in the 2014-15 school year.

"In keeping align with our strategic plan I support the superintendent's recommendation," said Barbara Bolas, vice president of the school board. "It gives choice to parents to what kind of education parents want their children to have in Upper St. Clair."

If the board had voted against making Streams all IB, the PYP would have been eliminated from the district.

Some board members Monday night said the district needed to do a better job communicating with the citizens.

"I'm dismayed by the anger and sudden outburst of anger because of the misinformation that is out there," Petersen said.

School board member Frank Kerber asked administrators to make sure teachers could articulate the difference between the IB and traditional programs to parents.

Earlier in the meeting, the board approved the formation of an ad-hoc communications committee that will be made up of board members, staff and community members. Contact the district at 412-833-1600 if you are interested in serving on the committee.

Do agree with the board's decision to make Streams Elementary an all-IB school? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments.

MZ March 01, 2012 at 06:04 AM
@ USC Republican 10 kids graduated with IB diplomas in the 2010-2011 school year. You do know of the the program called advanced placement. It actually carries college credit too. Classes are just as difficult if not harder. Stop your self righteous mentality. As a graduate last year and taking AP classes, I can tell you IB did not do for me anything as well 97% percent of my graduating class. So just stop, you're argument holds no value. Your minority views as well as the minority views of this school board has brought USC into a position similar to south africa during the par-tide rule. The opinions being supported in this community are holding less than a 30% favorability. you've just been #BOOMROASTED. And if you're a republican, why are you supporting such a principle as this? You're supporting a foreign private program being embedded in a public school system. Some of you adults today I just do not understand.
USCMom March 01, 2012 at 06:10 PM
As a parent of a Traditional Streams student, I considered having my child join the IB program. Originally, it was for social reasons. But before I made a decision, I researched the program, talked to my child's teachers about his learing habits and talked to the Principal about the program. In the end, it didn't seem to be benificial to my child, so we decided it better to stay in Traditional. As all of the talk about all-IB arose, I considered our options once again...now, join IB or move to Baker. The option to stay at Streams in the Traditional program has been taken away. I feel that the RIGHT to stay at our neighborhood has been viololated. Doesn't anyone feel uncomfortable that an outside program has been able to force our RIGHTS away by it's demands and requirements? Although I am not against the value IB is trying to promote I am against the company's demands, which is my the problem with the program. I wouldn't join any program that takes residents rights away if you paid me. I hope others would consider that as well. This time it only affected Streams. How far will IB go to force more requirements, maybe for the other Elementary Schools, our Middle Schools, or the whole district next time? Why are we allowing this? I feel that the Traditional families at Streams were out-numbered. Hopefully the whole community will get more involved if this continues!
USC parent March 01, 2012 at 06:57 PM
I am "hiding" as much as you are, "Judy". It is not very smart to post under one's real name on the web. And I guess I have a much better job than you ever had. I work long hours, including evenings and weekends, but nobody cares about what I do during my breaks.
Caa March 01, 2012 at 10:31 PM
While I (foolishly...?......hopefully?) believe the school board has the best of intentions...... We have a budget concern. I do not expect others to pay my bills if I overspend. I resent the board and township (ref the community center) spending excessive amounts of money and expecting all of us to carry the additional burden. This township is not entirely comprised of the wealthy as some would think.
Frank DiGeorge March 03, 2012 at 04:49 PM
USCMom, Sounds like a simple petition might be the next step. "IB is not a good fit for Streams." It was done successfully in NV, http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/noibiniv
Frank DiGeorge March 03, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Paul, Good comments, one of the strongest arguments ever made by an IB supporter. Yes the article is one sided. The article is composed mostly of facts, all I did was bring the facts to one article! Did you read the links? Some of the most incriminating facts come from IB's own website. The fact is: for many of us the more we learn about IB the more we realize it should not be part of your public education. When I was your age I would have probably written exactly what you did, and I was still a Democrat upon graduation of college and the teacher credentialing program. Since IB is a UNESCO (UN) sponsored programme you must acknowledge the fact that people will object to paying for it.
Frank DiGeorge March 04, 2012 at 12:02 AM
MZ, Good job teaching USC Republican a lesson! The name says Republican but the actions scream Liberal. We had one prominate Republican in my area who did support IB up until the bitter end. After it was over and he lost the Republican Women embarrassed him.
Alex March 05, 2012 at 03:32 AM
The program does not create alienation and resentment among students. I am a student who takes IB classes, and I do not feel this way at all. I am also not separated from my fellow students. The IB Programme is very valuable, especially in an ever-growing interconnected world. A better understanding of other cultures and an international outlook will be very valuable in the future, and IB will attract many families to USC as more people understand and recognize its importance.
Mark Trombetta March 05, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Sorry Alex, I understand that you are invested in IB, but the facts do not match your assertions. In most cases the USC and IB curriculum are IDENTICAL. You know that you are in the same classes as the AP students. As such, your education is identical and duplicative. As well,IB physics is not calculus based and is therfore inferior to AP Physics. IB at USC teaches virtually NOTHING about any Global perspectives. That sounds good and illuminating, but you have been sold a bill of goods. The IB as taught in USC is far inferior to the IB taught in Europe. You are being mislead. We had an independant European IB teacher review our program informally a few years back and her quote was " I don't know what they are teaching, but it is not IB".
Jay March 06, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Methinks Alex, who actually took IB classes at USC, knows more about them than you, who never did. First of all, only a few IB classes are (or used to be) taught together with AP, and even then the curricula are not really identical, i.e. IB students have additional material and lab requirements. Moreover, there are USC classes like IB HL Math that go beyond any AP class and thus expanded math offerings at USC. Second, a physics course that is not calculus based is not necessarily "inferior" if taught well. Such courses cover modern physics, not just mechanics and E&M. This is important for many students who may never take another physics course or those who plan to do pre-med at college. Lastly, global persective is most certainly taught in courses like IB econ, IB HofA, foreign languages and TOK at USC- but again, you would not know this since you never took these classes.
Mark Trombetta March 06, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Jay thinks that only the student can know, yet Jay knows who is not a student. Non- calculus based physics hampers the student in his scores on SAT testing and later on in college and beyond [such as professional school entance criteria]. IB physics is easier and weaker for this reason. If TOK was so valuable, colleges would give credit for it....which virtually none do. Jay, most IB classes are still the same as AP. And by the way, virtually NO colleges give any advanced credit for standard level IB. ALL AP classes are considered by most colleges, That is the definition of AP. Were you the protestor, Jay, who carried slanderous signs filled with lies and who was so misguided then?
Lax Mom March 06, 2012 at 02:51 AM
To get AP credit in college you must take the AP exam in May. This is optional in USC, would USC have the same demand for AP classes if the exam was required? I do not know USC policy on the IB exams.
Jay March 06, 2012 at 03:20 AM
The more MT writes, the more ignorance he shows about IB courses (or physics courses, for that matter). Keep writing, MT. Lax Mom, students enrolled in an IB course are required to take the IB exam. And that is a very good thing, in my opinion.
Mark Trombetta March 06, 2012 at 03:38 AM
USC pays for the IB exam fee. It is 87 dollars for each AP exam. Another charm of IB. 300,000 dollars for the program and we taxpayers foot the bill for the exams. Jay the protestor knows all.
Mark Trombetta March 06, 2012 at 04:11 AM
I do admit that I could never understand the Theory of Knowledge, but I did find a Bertrand Russell essay on the topic. You can find the essay at : http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/en/russell1.htm
USC parent March 06, 2012 at 04:23 AM
Oooh! Marxist! Scary! Run as fast as you can!!! It is best our children remain as ignorant as Trombetta about the subject.
USC parent March 06, 2012 at 04:26 AM
Is that another little "fact" of yours? The district pays for the IB exams? Really? Maybe you should talk with IB parents once in a while, if only to find out who pays what, instead of labeling everyone who disagrees with you a "protestor" or a "radical". Not to mention, $300,000 (of which the cost of PYP discussed here is a only tiny part) is a very small fraction of the USC district budget and pales in comparison to what we pay for some sports programs here, with a lot more students participating in IB.
Alex LeClaire March 06, 2012 at 04:35 AM
I take IB and AP courses, and I am most appalled by "fact" 11, which claims that "AP is the best fit for gifted students." A "gifted student" myself, I have found IB courses to be more helpful, and I think they are better preparing me for college and beyond than AP courses. A classmate of Paul Austin, I agree with everything he has presented in his comment. What I find most ironic about your comment is that you are so narrow-minded with your argument against IB. The IBO stresses exactly the opposite, encouraging students to think independently and critically. I take an IB History course, and we read works from liberal, moderate and conservative writers. With this information, then, we make informed decisions. Additionally, one thing is almost never universally better, and this has to be the case here. One more point I take offense to is the comment regarding TOK. I have been involved in the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, where many professors have argued that America's best hope for maintaining strength in the world community is through teaching students to think critically, which both TOK and IB encourages. This course would be helpful to all American students. While I could go through and prove each of your points false or misconceived, I do not plan to waste my time doing so, as you will most likely dismiss me as being affected by IB. This website should clear up some of your misconceptions: http://www.ibo.org/ibna/actionpacks/documents/MythvFact_000.pdf
Alex LeClaire March 06, 2012 at 04:40 AM
I take IB courses and AP courses and I have had to pay to take both tests, with my IB exams actually costing more than the AP exams. USC never paid nor offered to pay for my exam fee.
Alex LeClaire March 06, 2012 at 04:47 AM
Thank you, Jay. I have not been "sold a bill of goods," as Mr. Trombetta asserts. I made an informed decision to take IB courses with advice from my guidance counselor, family and past teachers. My favorite IB course is iB History of the Americas and IB 20th Century Topics, which is the 2-year history course offered at USCHS. Unlike AP, which you claim is "identical and duplicative," we learn about Central and South American history in addition to American and Canadian history. Although I do not take IB Physics, just because it teaches different material does not make it inferior. IB language courses and social studies courses are very globally-minded. In addition, materials written by students in IB courses are sent abroad every year to make sure that USC teachers are grading the material appropriately. Also, students consistently do well on IB exams in May, indicating that what we are taught is indeed IB.
Mark Trombetta March 07, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Don't be afraid USC Parent. It is a website only. Once again you are making something up out of nothing. Very foolish indeed.
Mark Trombetta March 07, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Alex, I stand corrected. It looks like now you do pay for the IB exams.
Frank DiGeorge March 13, 2012 at 01:15 PM
By definition AP = college level. http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/ap/about.html IB is NOT college level, per IB's definition. "The IB programme fosters the knowledge, skills and attitudes that enable students to excel in university." http://www.ibo.org/recognition/ Compared to AP, IB is a downgrade. This is likely why colleges give less credit for IB than AP. To learn more read point one... http://myinclinevillage.com/2011/07/31/what-all-parents--students-should-know-before-enrolling-in-ib.aspx
Frank DiGeorge March 13, 2012 at 01:19 PM
ToK is UNESCO influenced philosophy course. Not everyone thinks high school students should be taking time away from real education in real subjects for this type of course.
Jay March 13, 2012 at 09:34 PM
The notion of "college level" is different in the US and in Europe and elsewhere where many IB schools are. Much of the material that is taught in introductory college level courses in the US is actually taught in high schools in Europe, Australia, New Zealand etc. Also, universities there rarely give college credit for high school courses.
Jay March 13, 2012 at 09:37 PM
People who think that way are free not to let their children take the course. No one is forced to take IB, you know.
USC Resident March 14, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Parents have always paid for the exams. AP exams too. But to answer a question farther up - USC students aren't required to take AP exams and many in fact decide not to bother.
another USC parent March 26, 2012 at 04:39 PM
"This would be the same concept as providing Art, Music, Vocational, Sports, Gifted and Special Education programs. All of them cost the district money, but none of them are taken advantage of by every student." Except that students now have to pays fees to particiapte in athletics, and intrumental music students pay for their own instruments and instruction books (not performance music). And guess what is going to get cut in the very near future - at least one music position, and a second in the not too distant future, possibly elementary instrumental music. Art and home ec classes are on the block too.
Nicole Dimanov January 16, 2013 at 09:26 PM
So I have a question then..being new to the area. My daughter was supposed to start Kindergarten at Streams next year. What does this mean for us?
Brian Eccher January 16, 2013 at 09:50 PM
Nicole: You should reach out to Streams and speak with the principal Dr. Miller regarding the program. I would expect she can make a kindergarten teacher available to meet with you as well.

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