Beyond the Headlines

A puzzling decision

Posted: Jun 11, 2012 11:43 AM ET Last Updated: Jun 11, 2012 11:43 AM ET

Perhaps members of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board should take a look at the 2011 census before making their final decision to axe the International Baccalaureate program at Sydney Academy.
Just in case they haven't noticed their neighbours' for sale signs, or the distinct lack of young families on the island, the census will remind them Cape Breton's population declined by 4.1% between 2006-2011.
It's one of the many reasons it's hard to understand the board's proposal to cut the IB program at Sydney Academy, the only school in the board to offer the program.
Graduates of the advanced courses program have an enviable success rate. Most go on to university with handsome scholarships. They are exactly the kind of young people any community would want to foster and nurture. People you hope will return home one day to become the entrepreneurs and leaders of the future.
Governments, business leaders, and academics have spent countless hours, and millions of dollars, trying to come up with ways to resurrect Cape Breton's economy. But unless you are the provincial government you can't order people to move to Cape Breton. People will only move (or stay) if they believe there are opportunities for themselves and their families.
Parents will, at the very least, expect their children to have the same educational opportunities in Sydney as they would if they stayed in Halifax or any other major centre.
That's why in a region with double digit unemployment and a declining population, cutting the only IB program for advanced students, just doesn't seem to make sense.
Certainly not to H. John Harker.
The president of Cape Breton University issued a statement late last week in support of the IB program. Harker writes "I am of the view that Nova Scotia must expand, not limit, the ability of its school children to engage with the unique rigours of the IB world, and I see this as essential to ensuring the province can fashion and maintain a place in a challenging global economy, and thus offer the chance of sustainable livelihoods to its people."
In other words, if Cape Breton wants to thrive, if it wants to avoid turning into a retirement community, it needs to offer its best and brightest every possible opportunity to excel.
It's community building 101, a lesson the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School board seems to have missed.
Previous Post
Next Post

About the Author

Brian DuBreuil is a veteran journalist with CBC News. He has won two Gemini awards for his work, and neither involved dancing or singing on a reality show.

Recent Entries

Falling through the cracks
Falling through the cracks
Apr 23, 1:32 PM

Nova Scotia's justice system is battered and bruised.  Two high-profile cases, both involving the alleged sexual assault of young people, have sorely tested the public's confidence in both the people... more »

Social media demands justice for Rehtaeh
Social media demands justice for Rehtaeh
Apr 10, 12:44 PM

On Tuesday, Justice Minister Ross Landry learned first hand the power of social media. It's a lesson he's learning the hard way.Earlier in the week, Leah Parsons turned to social... more »

Investigating the police
Investigating the police
Mar 22, 6:12 PM

Last April the province unveiled its brand new Serious Incident Response Team. The agency was established to conduct independent and transparent investigations of all serious incidents involving police officers.The idea... more »

View the Beyond the Headlines Archives »