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Torn Tartan pride

What did they do to lose a top program?/ Brett Nielsen
What did they do to lose a top program?/ Brett Nielsen

Regina school board promotes equity by wounding academic traditions.

When you first get to university, what usually happens is that you hang out with those friends that you made in high school. At least, that’s what happens here; the U of R is an extension of the Regina high school system for the most part. As such, your high school never really fades from your mind.

Recently, a major event happened at my high school. Campbell Collegiate, a public school known for its academic performance, saw its International Baccalaureate (IB) program pulled by the Regina Board of Education and given to Balfour Collegiate instead. The IB program is essentially an international version of the Advanced Placement (AP) program found at other schools. I did an IB Certificate program while in Campbell and I managed to not only get a top-notch education that exposed me to foreign authors and ideas, but I also got university credits for some introductory classes; I didn’t need to take English 100. Campbell Collegiate has had the IB program for twenty years and the school board’s decision stunned me. It apparently was so secret that it didn’t even hardly make the news; I only found out thanks to a friend whose sister was in grade nine at Campbell. From what can be gleamed from this decision, I believe the Regina Board of Education made a massive mistake in removing IB from Campbell.

First off, let us consider why they did this. From what I and other concerned friends were able to gather, the school board is moving the IB program because it wants to both increase enrollment at Balfour and ensure that not too many people apply to go to Campbell. While I can understand why this situation might come about, I do not think this is a solution. For one thing, lots of students who came to Campbell for IB are now going to have to move schools simply because a board official thought they should be going to another school. The main issue is that Campbell is essentially being punished for being too good. Its staff did not steal the IB program from any other school, nor did they deceive the administrators of the IB program about how good their school was. Campbell Collegiate was awarded a top-notch program and got good at administering it. Because of this, the Board of Education declared that there was a crisis and essentially punished Campbell for its good work.

And this brings me to what really angers me about this situation: the secrecy and suddenness of this decision. As my friend told me, her sister just received the news out of the blue, as apparently did many teachers. Keep in mind that this decision could effectively make or break schools; who’s to say that later on from now, Balfour won’t be the popular school and Campbell the school everyone avoids? As such, why did my friend’s sister have to hear this decision and make adjustments to her life immediately? If you go on the Regina Board of Education’s website, you will find a post on their ‘High School Strategy’ which claims that they made this decision “[following] consultation with stakeholders.” Then why did this decision stun a lot of people at Campbell? More to the point, that same post states that this decision was only made because the IB program at Thom Collegiate was losing popularity. If that’s the case, then why the hell remove Campbell’s program? Why not move Thom’s to Balfour?

It is really difficult to express just how mind-bogglingly stupid I find the school board’s decision to be. They don’t, or just can’t (professionally), understand how important the IB program came to be to the identity of Campbell Collegiate and its students. I am doubly disappointed that no concrete reason has been given for why they chose this course of action over others; striving for “equity” does not count. If the Board of Education wants to make things right, it should redo its entire consultation process and fully explain to students just how their plans affect them. Because, as of now, their proposed plans just end up messing up student’s lives for no clear benefit.

About taras matkovsky

I am a fairly opinionated person, willing to listen to several opinions and intervene when necessary. I like reading books on economics and history and enjoy playing video games, be they Mario platformers or Western RPG’s.

13 comments

  1. this post is just embarrassing to read as someone who goes to campbell to see such ignorance. If you’re going to be a in huff about what’s going on, perhaps consider reading into all of the facts of the situation first. The decision to place ib in Balfour was in no way made to “punish” Campbell. The main point was that Balfour is a located more in the centre of the city, which gives easier access to anyone who wants to take ib. Not only that, but there’s no way we can even know for sure if Balfour will even be able to have the ib program. Clearly yet another fact you had not looked into. An ib program cannot simply just be placed at a different school whenever we desire. The school that wants to have ib has to go through an application process in order to be accredited. This takes several years and a lot of money to become ib accredited, so don’t get too much in a fuss about the “sudden change”. Maybe next time you should consider learning about your topic before you post your unwanted opinion on the Internet for all to see.

  2. Isn’t it also true that there is now forced enrollment so you can’t pick what school you want to go to?

  3. Hey Amanda, do you currently attend Campbell Collegiate? Taras is a well educated, intricate individual, and I share his concerns. Not only was it “sudden” but enraging to my own teachers, and fellow students very interested in going down the path of the International Baccalaureate. You’re the only one assuming anything.

  4. School neighbourhoods existed years ago and are finally being reinstated. Schools aren’t better because of the walls that create the building.

  5. I challenge the writer to dig deeper into the statistics of how many students this truly effects. It is but a small portion of students who truly engage in the IB certificate program and even smaller portion who do the diploma. If the school’s identity is truly connected directly to IB then why are the numbers of students actually engaging the program so small. The true punishment suffered in this decision has been the years of neglect of other programming because of a short sighted opening of boundaries in the early 2000’s. The needs of the collective student body of Regina outweigh the needs of the 6-12 IB diploma students at Campbell. I could understand the outrage if the IB program was cancelled all together but alas it has not been cancelled. Is the location a determining factor of quality? If so enlighten me. Change is hard but in this case necessary.

  6. The first thing that comes to mind is asking if both schools could be accredited? If it is too costly, then fine, send it to Balfour – why not? I went to Campbell class of 2002. I am not outraged by this idea because anyone who would like to enroll in IB still could. Why THE “outrage”? Because Campbell elitists might have to associate themselves with a high school they don’t see as upscale enough? I really don’t get it…. and they are actually really close area wise and if you want a special program you shouldn’t just “expect” it to be offered within 3 blocks of your house. Why is it to terrible to make your way to College Ave instead of Massey Rd every day? I really don’t get it….. are we sure this isn’t more to do with like…. people’s egos being tripped…. an IB program at Balfour could be a really positive thing in more ways than 1…. and no one says you HAVE to leave Campbell. … but are you in IB for the program or do you want to go to the “popular” high school. Like make up your mind on what the real priorities are here or be honest about your real reason for the “outrage”.

  7. To me, moving this program to Balfour is NOT creating equal opportunity for all students. When I participated in the surveys about the community high schools one of the concerns brought up time and time again is that all schools offer the same programming. Relocating a great program isn’t giving equal opportunity to all students, rather it is closing it down. If they(the school board) is going to create equality then they should have every single regina high school accredited to offer the IB program!

  8. Ryan Shillington

    I was in the very first class of IB students to graduate from Campbell. It got me into Waterloo comp sci, which then allowed me to write code that is in use today at almost every fortune 500 company. Over 200,000 people in at least 80 different countries have had books delivered to them by Amazon (through the use of my code), etc. This program REALLY helped me excel in life.

  9. Moving the IB program from Campbell is an attempt for the school board to save money in the future. They will move it to Balfour and enrollment will decrease. The school board will then use this as justification to terminate the program.

  10. “lots of students who came to Campbell for IB are now going to have to move schools simply because a board official thought they should be going to another school.” That’s a bit of an emotional oversimplification. I’m sure it was discussed at great length by a board of directors at the very least. As somebody who went to Campbell for IB, the move is no big deal. Many of the kids on the Special 1 and Special 2 buses (which picked up East-enders, and dropped them off at Miller, Balfour, Leboldus, and Campbell) were in IB. Several other IB students were driven to school from other parts of the city. In my graduating class, at least 40-50% of the IB students lived nowhere near Campbell, and I’m low-balling that number just to be generous.. Not a tragedy as far as transportation goes, so that argument can die. Also, moving schools is pretty normal. For instance, I went to 5 different schools as a kid.

    The suddenness is a dick move, I’ll give you that.

    Greg F wears tinfoil hats.

    J, man, your numbers are misleading, but you’re right that location does not imply quality. There were 4-6 Diploma students in my graduating class, and ~50-60 certificate students. Per grade? That’s between 150 and 180 students in the school at any time. Add to that the prospective IB freshmen, and its 200-240. Given Campbell hovers in the 1500+ student range, your analysis is lacking; 200/1500 is 13%… of one of the top 3 schools in the province population-wise. I wouldn’t call that a “small portion” of Campbell’s student body. That’s about 5 full classrooms to move (that being said, I have no idea if enrolment is down from “my day”). Assuming my numbers are alright, can Balfour handle the 200-280 extra students they’ll be getting within a few years? They’re currently sitting in the 900 range. Unless they’ve got a lot of half-empty classes, the move is going to be costly. Portable classrooms mang. Portable classrooms errwhere. “In this case necessary”, well, I can’t take your word for it. I’ve heard they’re cancelling the Thom program as well; that’s another 30-50 students who will care enough to go to Balfour too. They ought to have good reasons for moving the program, and available capacity.

  11. No tinfoil hats. The RPSB tried the same tactic a while back when they tried to move Campbell’s music programs. The RPSB’s end goal is not to provide quality education, it is to save money. I know a lot of teachers personally who worked for the RPSB and that is how it is. So their “lengthy discussion” by the board was about cutting costs. Balfour also is not a french immersion school. When I went to Campbell, most of the french immersion students took the French IB exam. By moving it to Balfour, a non-immersion school, none will take the exam. The RPSB saves a bundle at $120/student.

    One thing you all are not considering is the teachers have to set up the program. The teachers at Campbell spent years setting the program up and making sure they can teach the materials. The quality of the program suffers when it moves because the teachers are not likely to move with it.

    The argument that Balfour is “more central” is laughable. It is a 7 minute drive from Campbell to Balfour. Avoid the turmoil and leave it where it is.