SALT LAKE CITY -- A dispute over the merits of International Baccalaureate classes has thrown a temporary wrench in the process of setting new standards for two state scholarship programs.
Final passage of new scholarship guidelines for recipients of Regents and New Century scholarships were approved Thursday in the Senate, then reconsidered and delayed.
Lawmakers have wrestled with the merits of IB classes and how they should factor in the scholarship selection process.
Geared to a global approach, some have linked IB classes to creating a new social order or new-world residents. IB classes are offered at several high schools along the Wasatch Front, including at Ogden, Clearfield and Bountiful high schools.
IB classes are considered more difficult than regular subject classes and were included with advanced placement and concurrent enrollment classes for consideration in weighing the criteria for scholarship recipients.
Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, thinks it is ridiculous there is any controversy about IB classes. He said the classes are difficult and require a significant commitment to complete.
"The idea somehow that this issue is tied to the United Nations or taking over the world is ridiculous. These are good, hard, educational disciplines and subjects."
Davis said eliminating IB classes for consideration sends the message that students should not strive for the highest standards.
Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, who is the sponsor of SB 100, said the intent of the new guidelines is to encourage excellence, not to punish kids who take harder classes.
"I don't want to encourage kids in high school to take classes they know they can get an A out of. If you take a difficult class, like AP, it needs to be weighted in the scholarship. We are leaving out a real group of kids who have taken tough courses," he said.
After significant debate on the Senate floor, verbiage about the IB classes was stripped from the bill and the measure passed.
But moments later, Stevenson rose to bring the bill back for further consideration after some technical issues were raised. The bill was reconsidered and then circled, pending further review.
The Layton lawmaker said he would bring up some of the technical problems with the bill in the GOP caucus.
Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said IB classes are not offered at Woods Cross High School and that he has heard from local parents who worry their kids would be disadvantaged in scholarship consideration because they didn't have access to the programs.
Some of the legislation deals with students who have already been awarded the scholarship. The bill requires scholarship recipients to carry an active class load of at least 15 hours per semester and to have a GPA of at least 3.33 in their second year in order to maintain their Regents or New Century scholarship.
Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, said the bill's delay is not a statement on whether IB classes are good or bad but rather has to do with how the classes will be weighted or used as a means of consideration in the scholarship process.
Stevenson said he ran the bill at the behest of the Board of Regents.