Add IB program to raise the bar
I attended the Pinellas School Board's workshop on Oct. 5 and left with a feeling of hope. Superintendent Julie Janssen is willing to make changes that would raise the bar in our schools. Specifically, I like the idea of phasing in an International Baccalaureate magnet program at Countryside High School.
I am a parent of a recent Countryside graduate, a Countryside sophomore and a Safety Harbor Middle eighth grader. Though the products of the same parents, they are different in academic and physical abilities but know the value of education. My husband and I want a strong neighborhood high school known for more than its football team.
An IB magnet would raise the bar at the school. Countryside High has excellent and caring teachers, but the school desperately needs a program to retain its high performing zoned students. We have suffered too long from a brain drain to East Lake High's engineering magnet and Palm Harbor University High's medical and IB magnets.
If Palm Harbor High has a reputation for academic rigor, it is most likely due to the medical and IB magnets and the type of students and parents these magnets attract. There is no reason Countryside High cannot also become a destination for the academically inclined.
There is no reason why Palm Harbor should have two magnet programs, especially since they are so overcrowded that as of Oct. 1, almost 300 Palm Harbor zoned students have to be bused to other schools to make room for the magnet students.
And there is no reason why Countryside cannot deliver the high-quality IB program currently offered at Palm Harbor. I am confident everything possible will be done to ensure its success.
True, Countryside High does have its sports, and its sports programs do meet the needs of many students. But it also has terrific band, chorus and drama programs and many highly motivated, talented and bright students who would benefit from the infusion of more college-bound students. Some of Countryside's students lost the Palm Harbor and East Lake magnet lotteries, and some never applied. They have watched life-long friends leave as their names have been drawn from the magnet waiting lists.
The Countryside community is strong, committed and supportive. There is no reason why a Countryside IB program cannot be what the highly recognized Palm Harbor program is today. My husband and I support an IB program at Countryside. Even if our own children do not take advantage of it, the IB program would be an asset to our community, would reduce the overcrowding at Palm Harbor and would finally provide Countryside with a magnet that would attract bright and articulate leaders — students and parents.
Stephanie Brown, Clearwater
Re: AP scores weigh more for college | letter, Oct. 3
IB curriculum is not wasted effort
I have to disagree with Deane Kuhne's recent letter stating that "…the International Baccalaureate program is a waste of time" and the Advanced Placement classes outweigh the IB program in college entrance criteria and preparation. Our very recent experience with the college application and admissions process for our IB student tells otherwise.
Our daughter is a 2010 graduate of the IB program at Palm Harbor University High School. We discovered during her sophomore year that colleges were recruiting her because of her IB participation. Of the many colleges we visited over her junior and senior years, IB was always mentioned as one of the accelerators of acceptance.
Why are the colleges targeting the IB students? Well, as told to us by many an admissions counselor, it is the structure of the IB program itself: the emphasis on study skills and time management, the discussions, the encouragement to "think outside the box" and the preparation for the academic rigors of higher education. And not least, the emphasis on community involvement. IB students average 200-plus hours of volunteer work in the last year and half of high school as required to obtain their IB diplomas. Therefore, Mr. Kuhne, it's not all just about test scores.
I am not knocking the AP curriculum; all students who can rise to the challenge of higher-level classes should be given the opportunity to do so, and that includes the IB program.
Because of her IB experience, her hard work and, yes, her IB test scores, our daughter was granted 40 college credits and is officially a sophomore her first year of college. She will graduate in three years, therefore saving time and money. Waste of time? Not for this family! We can only wish the IB programs in the county would grow to allow more students this wonderful opportunity.
Nanette Angelone, Clearwater
Re: Only rules can ease this pain | Diane Steinle column, Oct. 3
Leave medical work to doctors
After having had the privilege of representing many injured persons over the years in the course of my law practice, I find it disturbing that Diane Steinle feels she is in a better position to determine a patient's medical needs than the medical professionals that actually have a background in pain management.
Her article is devoid of any objective citations to medical studies, and her opinion is simply a matter of conjecture. The article smacks of a witch hunt borne from a slow news cycle. Unless Ms. Steinle has medical credentials, I suggest that she leave the science of pain management to the doctors.
W. John Gadd, Clearwater