School choices abound in the Sacramento region from traditional public schools to magnet programs to charter schools to private schools. With the open enrollment season soon upon us in January and February, now is the time for parents and students to begin looking at choices for fall 2013.
A particularly exciting magnet option is starting to take off in the region: the rigorous, well-certified, multiculturally focused International Baccalaureate program.
In a state as globally connected as California, this international honors program with a focus on languages (two or more for each student), intercultural perspectives, community service, arts and research can help attract and keep families in our region.
The well-established IB program at Mira Loma High in San Juan Unified is the best known in our region. But students now have options closer to home Luther Burbank High in Sacramento City Unified (since 2003), Granite Bay High in the Roseville Joint Union High School District (since 2008) and Laguna Creek High in Elk Grove Unified (since 2011).
And more IB programs are coming on board. The latest IB startups are coming to Cordova High in Folsom Cordova Unified, Inderkum High in Natomas Unified and Kit Carson Middle School (soon to become a 7-12 school) in Sacramento City Unified.
Parents in east Sacramento, midtown, College Greens, River Park and Tallac Village neighborhoods are excited about the IB program coming to Kit Carson. That area for some time has wanted to be a hub for a small, high-achieving college preparatory school.
Parent Dawn Quinn has twin fifth-graders at Caleb Greenwood Elementary, which will have a K-6 IB program to feed into the Kit Carson IB program that starts with the seventh and eighth grades in fall 2013 and will expand a grade a year until it becomes a 7-12 school. Quinn likes the combination of academic rigor with a smaller school. She also thinks the IB program, with its emphasis on technology, arts, community and globalism, "matches well with what is needed for children in the 21st century."
Joe Sison, a parent who was on the design team for Kit Carson, wants students to be able to experience the unique IB method of teaching which he describes as "an integrative, culturally sensitive, worldly approach to teaching kids about themselves and their world."
It helps, says parent Matt Mitchell, that Kit Carson has one of Sacramento City Unified's best principals, Charlie Watters.
Staff and students in this new IB program also can take advantage of training and classes at Burbank High, seven miles away.
Burbank has 21 IB diploma candidates in the class of 2013, and 25 percent of the senior class is taking at least one IB course. This year 82 ninth-graders signed on for the journey to become full IB diploma candidates.
Katherine Bell, a social science teacher who coordinates the IB program at Burbank, says the program "really helped create a community of students who are ready to be contributing members in a global community" and improved the overall climate at the school.
The open enrollment period for grades 7-12 in Sac City Unified runs Jan. 28-Feb. 8. Dates for elementary grades will announced soon. The IB program is not for everyone, but it adds to the increasing menu of choices that parents have for educating their children, enriching the region.