International Baccalaureate

(…continuing the saga of my schooling and my friends…)

Eventually, through no fault of my own, it was time for me to go to high school. I picked Foss, primarily because of the International Baccalaureate Program (IB). Later, when people would ask, I would explain, “It’s sorta like Advanced Placement (AP),  only based in Geneva. And no colleges around here have heard of it.”  And even later, I wouldn’t even talk about it, and just say, “I went to school in South Tacoma,” and nobody would ask any more questions. Ah, Sweet Home South Tacoma.

How did they sell it to me?…my Jr High English teacher who I loved, really was a big fan of IB, and gave them access to us for proselytizing …they talked about the international prestige…that it was a complete integrated program…sounded better than AP to me. (Though, in hind sight, Stadium HS, with their super strong music programs might have been a better fit for my personality. Except for their stoopid track! That mutant track offends me to this day!)  Many of my friends went to Foss, because of IB.

And when we got there, the teachers involved with the program basically told us we were the shit, and we believed them. They promised us we were the future leaders of America, blah, blah, …and with that self serving propaganda, I may have looked down on other kids who weren’t in the IB, who weren’t part of the intelligentsia. Luckily, I still had exposure to non-IB folks in orchestra, cross-country, German, music, neighborhood friends, church friends. So I still had some connection with reality. But, me, being lazy, eventually dropped from the full program, because I would rather take orchestra than calculus my senior year. (A good move, of which I’m proud.)

(And funny enuff, reality hit some of us again, when we got to college, and were surrounded by others who had been told they were the best and the brightest. I hear from a co-worker, that reality will hit others, when they get to med-school or grad school. Life is rough at the top, ain’t it? )

And since we were the alleged best & brightest, we were allowed to get away with things a bit more than other kids could. One thing that was bad, for the other kids, we in IB had good teachers. When I dropped out, I got in a regular math class, and the teacher was HORRIBLE. She would stand in front of the class, and read straight from the text. If anyone had a question, she would get belligerent, and re-read the text out loud to the class. Since the class was easy for me, I started to skip and show up late, and if asked, I would say I was with an IB teacher talking about some esoteric subject, which was usually true. The horrible math teacher didn’t care, I was one less kid, and I actually was doing pretty good on the exams. Yeah, that’s why smart kids excel, as I’m sure Malcom Gladwell has pointed out, because they get the best teachers. In hindsight, had they given the smart kids (me not included) the calculus text and said “here are your goals by the end of the year”, and assigned Horrible-teacher to simply take roll, and the good math teachers could get the normal kids, it would have been better for society.

Was it worth they hype and the tax dollars? Sure, I think I got a good HS education, which I promptly frittered away once I got to college. I can count a professor of philosophy and a professor medicine from my IB class. I’m not implying that job is worth, it’s just that to the tax payer, you have to justify expenses.   And friends from Foss that didn’t go through program, still got a good education, one turned out to be TV big-wig, NFL receiver, public health big-wig. And many of my friends, like me, didn’t complete the entire program, they too seem to have turned out to be productive members of society.

Though, in fairness, had I gone to Stadium, I’d count a professor of music, professional conductor, and professional musicians as HS classmates.

And I see, that 20 years later, colleges round these parts are treating IB equal to AP.

I should note, that IB at Foss had a wide geographic range, we were pulling in kids from Gig Harbor, Kitsap County, Vashon Island, Puyallup.  So Foss, in the middle of Tacoma, was swiping kids from neighboring school districts.


2 Responses to “International Baccalaureate”

  1. heathercim Says:

    But had you went there, you could have said “I went to the cool looking high school that they filmed 10 Things I Hate About You”! 😀

  2. :-jon Says:

    But then all my track friends would mock me because of that caddywhompus track.

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