To the editor:
Recent anonymous allegations of racism in the International Baccalaureate program at North Atlanta High School must be considered in the context of actual facts. The details of my research have been gleaned from public sources. It is my hope that critical readers will evaluate this information which can be verified, and compare charges in the context of a fundamental understanding of what is actually already in place at North Atlanta and available to all students.
The schools of the North Atlanta cluster participate in the International Baccalaureate program; this includes Bolton Academy, Brandon, Garden Hills, Rivers, Jackson, and Smith Elementary schools as well as Sutton Middle School and North Atlanta High School.
The IB Program consists of three separate phases: Primary Years Program (K-5th grades), Middle Years Program (6th -10th) and the IB Diploma (11th-12th grades.) All students in the North Atlanta cluster from kindergarten through 10th grade benefit from the IB curricula. The Diploma Program is optional.
If we look at NAHS specifically, every ninth and 10th grader is part of the middle years program, which also means that all ninth and 10th grade students in the academies for International Business and Entrepreneurship, Global Broadcasting & Journalism, Center for the Arts, and International Studies participate in IB Middle Years Program.
No distinction is made. None. All students participate.
As stated earlier, the IB Diploma is optional. All rising juniors who have completed a year-long project in the Middle Years Program during their sophomore year and maintain a 80 GPA in five core subjects may participate the rigorous Diploma Program (11th – 12th grades.)
During the spring of students’ sophomore year, if the basic criteria have been met, students and their families are asked: “Will you or your child be a candidate in International Baccalaureate Diploma program?”
Many students choose not to be candidates for a myriad of reasons and that is as it should be. The diploma program isn’t for everyone, the same way that not everyone can or should be an athlete, performing musician or scientist.
The point is that students are given a choice and must make a personal decision. It is not a decision imposed by NAHS.
In the spring of 2009, under Mr. [Mark] MyGrant’s leadership, plans were announced to the rising freshmen (in the class of 2014) and their families that the IB diploma program would be available to them in their junior year regardless of the academy they chose. This change was necessary to address and eliminate community concerns that the IB diploma program had been available only to students in the International Studies SLC.
IB’s prior limitation to the International Studies SLC resulted from the now-superseded magnet school model. Now, as of 2012-2013, NAHS has moved beyond that model and the IB diploma program is open to all juniors and seniors enrolled in all the SLCs at North Atlanta.
At the end of the two-year, rigorous curriculum, IB diploma candidates must sit exams at the end of their senior year. IB exam fees, like AP exam fees, are usually paid by the candidate’s family. Since the philosophy at North Atlanta is to make the IB program available to as many students as possible, scholarships are in place to help candidates who cannot pay the exam fees.
Does that sound like a school which seeks to exclude anyone? To the contrary, due largely to efforts with and among the now-removed administrative team, the NAHS cluster over the last 10 years has successfully implemented the most rigorous curriculum we know of for all students from day one of kindergarten.
At North Atlanta, the community has worked very hard over the years to make the IB diploma program and its core values available to as many students as possible. Just take a look. Please check the facts; they will reveal the truth.
Chandler Rudd, Parent, North Atlanta High School