Every IB diploma graduate should be fully prepared to lead in our technological society either as a citizen equipped to deal with the choices on energy and climate that we face, or as a scientific and technological innovator. If IB graduates are not prepared for either of these roles, then we should not be supporting these programs with extra resources and guaranteed access to the Bright Futures program.
Here are two policy options for turning around the neglect of the sciences by many of Florida’s IB programs:
1) Require at least four science courses – including one each in biology, chemistry, physics and Earth/space science – for Bright Futures eligibility. This proposal comes straight from the white paper prepared by 90 science faculty members from 13 institutions around Florida last summer.
2) Require courses in these same four subjects for admission to the state’s universities. Such a policy at Louisiana State University caused a sharp increase in the physics-taking rate among that state’s high school graduates, according to the American Institute of Physics.
SB 4 – now law in our state – requires OPPAGA (the Florida Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability) to study the possibility of differentiated high school diplomas so that a proposal on this can be considered by the legislature in 2011. OPPAGA should start by asking what our IB programs are for if they are producing graduates whose preparation in science is substandard.