International Baccalaureate Earth Charter

, Julie M. Quist, Leave a comment

In a sudden move that reflects mounting opposition to the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, IB recently removed its name from the official list of endorsers of the Earth Charter Initiative. The Earth Charter advocates the following:

1. The redistribution of wealth between nations and within nations [Art. 10.a.]

2. Same-sex marriage [Art. 12.a.]

3. Spiritual education [Art 14.d.] which means education in Pantheism.

4. Military disarmament [Art. 16.d.&e.]

5. Creation of an international agency to make the Earth Charter binding on all nations [in The Way Forward action-plan.]

The reversal appears to be pure cosmetic, however, since the Deputy Director General of IB, Dr. Ian Hill, is a member of the Earth Charter’s founding Education Advisory Committee. In 2002, that committee reported the following:

The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) has undertaken to examine the potential use of the Earth Charter in the following subject areas within its curriculum: Theory of Knowledge; Environmental Systems; Environmental Science; Technology and Social Change; Peace and Conflict Studies; the Experimental Sciences; Philosophy; History; Geography; Maths; and the Arts.

In a revealing e-mail exchange with a concerned parent at Beechwood Elementary School in Fullerton, California, Dr. Hill clarified the position of IB in relation to the Earth Charter. The parent, Kristine Spadt, writes:

To avoid any confusion as to the IBO position on the Earth Charter, I contacted the organization and asked about the relationship between the Charter and the current IBO curriculum. I received a timely response from Dr. Ian Hill himself. He wrote: “We did an analysis of existing topics with the content of the Earth Charter and found that we already covered much of it if schools took up our suggestions for content…” Dr. Ian Hill went on to close his e-mail by writing, “So, the IBO endorses the Earth Charter and suggests many topics which promote it.”

Considering the founding role Dr. Hill played in the development of the Earth Charter’s educational action plan, it comes as no surprise that IB’s own publication, “Myths and Facts,” also acknowledges that IB “promotes the Earth Charter.” (p. 9) Yet, IB advocates frequently deny any association between IB and the Earth Charter.

UNESCO, the educational arm of the UN, is another key and current endorser of the Earth Charter, and also its chief partner. UNESCO also partners closely with IB, funds IB projects, and has granted IB the status of formal consultative relations as a network. (See, IBO reference link.) UNESCO delivers the Earth Charter curriculum to schools around the globe, including the U.S., through the Earth Charter/UNESCO curriculum, Decade on Education for Sustainable Development (DESD ).

For example, the Earth Charter Guidebook for Teachers quotes UNESCO’s 2003 resolution “recognizing the Earth Charter as an important ethical framework for sustainable development” and affirming its intention to utilize the Earth Charter as an educational instrument, particularly in the framework of the United Nations Decade for Education for Sustainable Development. (p. 8)

In short, the principles and goals of the Earth Charter have deep roots into the IB curriculum through established curriculum and high level formal and informal relationships.


The President’s American Competitive Initiative was introduced promoting both Advanced Placement and IB. While some of the Initiative’s Fact Sheets still link AP with IB, references to IB have disappeared from discussions of the proposals and in the President’s speeches. The Senate’s early proposal to fund the President’s Initiative (S 2198) included direct funding for IB, but the 2007 House Appropriations Bill (HR 5647) that passed the Appropriations Committee last month funds the President’s Initiative with $43 million additional money for Advanced Placement, with no mention of IB.

All of this suggests a growing caution in some political arenas with respect to promoting IB in an election year, as opposition to the program grows. However, EdWatch has discovered that federal funding for IB has been allocated from the Advanced Placement Program for a number of years. In 2004, for example, the US Department of Education granted $1.17 million from its Advanced Placement Incentive Program to implement IB. Annual federal Advanced Placement funding increased from $7 million in 2001 to over $22 million in 2005.

Funding Advanced Placement, then, becomes a way to disguise the funding of International Baccalaureate. Leaving references to IB out of the federal funding bill protects all members of Congress from a vote that directly funds IB. Stay tuned for more information coming on this issue.

Julie Quist is the Vice President of EdWatch. This article is from a recent EdWatch e-letter.