Kathleen McGervey got an up-close look Friday at the Oberlin City Schools’ International Baccalaureate program.
The Ohio Board of Education member, who represents District 2, talked with IB coordinators and students in visits to Prospect Elementary, Langston Middle School, and Oberlin High School.
Student ambassadors from each grade level explained what they were learning in their classes and how it related to their overall education.
“This sounds like a fantastic program,” McGervey said of IB. “I’m very impressed with all the teachers. I was very impressed with the fact the teachers come together and create their own curriculum in the earlier years. I was very impressed with everyone that I met today.”
Oberlin school board members hope the tour will pay dividends when the state board makes decisions on funding public schools.
“I think it’s critically important that we keep the state board involved in what’s happening at the roots level,” Oberlin School Board president Anne Schaum said. “We need to make sure they get the actual experience and see the kids, so they have these memories they can bring to these statewide decisions. I think IB probably is a future for the model of education.
“The more we can do to educate people who can influence things at the state level, the better off we all are.”
The school board had been working to get a member of the state board to visit the schools for some time. Board member Barry Richard said he felt McGervey got a good idea of what’s going on in the district and how International Baccalaureate sets Oberlin apart in terms of how teachers deliver curriculum.
When President Donald Trump appointed Betsy DeVos as secretary of education, administrators and unions voiced concerns about losing public funding to private schools.
According to Schaum, that makes it even more important for the district to show off what IB can offer students.
“You have to make sure that the people making decisions understand and have seen what’s happening on the ground,” she said. “It’s very easy to make generalizations about the impact of education by just looking at numbers, but when you look at these kids, see the classrooms, and hear the effect that it’s actually having, that tells the whole story.”
While McGervey is a proponent of school choice, she said she thinks public schools have much to offer.
“I definitely think that public schools should showcase the great things that they’re doing,” she said. “I do believe in parents having choices, but I definitely think public schools have a lot to offer. I think this is a fantastic program.”
Scott Mahoney can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @sm_mahoney on Twitter.