A common misconception in Ellen Frankman’s otherwise informative article (Affordable Care Act, Ellen Frankman, Sag Harbor Express, June 14, 2013) detailing the Affordable Care Act needs clarification.
Ms. Frankman quotes the presenter saying that millions will be left without health care coverage because of those states refusing to set up health care exchanges. Millions will be left without coverage, but not because of the health care exchanges. For those states refusing to set up health care exchanges the federal government will step in and set up an exchange (those places where a menu of health coverage options exist available for purchase at subsidized rates).
Rather, the United States Supreme Court ruled last June on the legality of the Affordable Care Act with the stipulation that the states were not required to set up the enhanced Medicaid coverage as proposed in the law. Thus, millions of poor, near poor, and working class families will go without health insurance unless they find the means to purchase insurance in the exchanges. Those states opting in for enhanced Medicaid will find their Medicaid budgets 100 percent subsidized in 2014 for new enrollees. This subsidy is reduced to 90 percent in subsequent years. In New York State this subsidy will relieve pressure on the Bad Debt and Charity Care Pool, a vehicle to cover costs incurred to pay for the uninsured.
As the new IB program moves forward there remain many questions unanswered and it appears that presently no evaluation system is in place to measure the success or failure of this program. Many have absolute praise for the new IB but, few are asking how does it get evaluated without bias?
Many parents, board members and administrators should be asking how this program is evaluated on its merits. Since we abandoned AP for IB how will we know its measured success? Or can it even be measured and evaluated? Will we see better SAT and ACT scores? Will there be more students accepted in schools that attract the best and brightest? How will it stack up against AP in college readiness? Will students see an increase or decrease in applicable college course credit taken in high school? Do we even have statistics of students that presently obtain college credit? Do we anticipate more academic scholarships?
The creativity, action & service (CAS) element of the IB requirement seems haphazard at best. 150 hours of (CAS) without direct supervision from administrators seems a recipe for disaster. The extended essay portion of 12 to 15 pages should also draw concerns. Many schools have done away with these types of “extended essays” because of plagiarism problems. Google any topic and you can easily buy hundreds of quality papers on the internet. Vice principal Kalish was quoted in the Sag Harbor Express as stating “IB is more about the process of learning not the acquisition of knowledge” Really? The process can be different as night and day for individuals. It’s the acquisition of knowledge that completes that process and leads to action. IB seems more about cute quotes than the structure necessary to give students the tools to perform in a “global” economy. How do we compete in global competition? Intel’s annual International Science and Engineering fair was recently held in Phoenix, Arizona and two-thirds of the 1,600 finalists are American including 88 from New York State. Not bad for a country that some in academia deem not worthy of “global” competition. I guess they will find a way to downplay America’s dominance.
My fear for IB is that as it moves forward and AP courses get fazed out fewer and fewer students will get the desired challenge and appropriate credit one deserves for working hard in upper level courses. In addition, the highly motivated student who does well in AP course work and gets the college credit while in high school has many more options when entering college. These options can be taking more challenging courses or studying abroad without losing ground in graduating in four years. For those students who will participate in sports while in college it would help to lighten their course selection as credit would be given prior to committing. I am not against IB, I am against that this is our students’ only choice going forward in the next few years. Many very talented students will be cheated out of one of the finest options for motivated and gifted students. Presently for every 3.5 schools that adopt IB, one will drop it entirely. Time will tell if this will be the case in Sag Harbor.
So, as the praise for IB continues to pour in, I hope that so, too, will a critical eye towards evaluating this foreign program. By implementing this all-or-nothing approach, students have lost a valued asset that gave them academic choices. Will this program be deemed successful if 7 or 10 students actually graduate with and IB Diploma? If that’s the case then this district has cheated 80 percent of its student body out of significant college readiness by limiting their academic choices. The current standard level of course instruction in IB does not receive college credit in any college or university.
Clearly we are already seeing that IB has changed in the current administration. It’s really the “hot potato” issue. At one time Principal Nichols was the point man regarding IB and championed its direction, but currently Vice Principal Kalish is the new “point person”. The question remains for parents who gets the “hot potato” next?
Thomas M Jones