Why would a Canadian math prodigy leave Canada for the US?

Zhuo Qun (Alex) Song was born in Tianjin, China in 1997. His parents immigrated to Canada in 2002 and settled in Waterloo, ON. He took an interest in math at a young age; and started participating in competitions in Grade 1. Later, he took the Pythagoras Contest, intended for 6th graders, which got him interested in math competitions. With the help of a teacher who helped him discover his interest in creative math, he took contests of varying levels, including the COMC (Canadian Open Math Challenge) and AMC-10 (American Math Competition) in Grade 4. After taking the USAMO (United States of America Mathematics Olympiad) in Grade 4, Alex developed an interest in Olympiad-type problems. He got more and more interested in solving hard but exciting problems. In Grade 7, he attended the 2010 CMS Winter Camp, a training camp to identify 6 members of the Canadian IMO Team among the top 12 candidates. Alex enjoyed his first-ever camp because it was the first time, he did math exclusively for an extended period. He received an honorable mention in the APMO (Asian Pacific Math Olympiad) and 1st place in the CMO (Canadian Math Olympiad) en route to the IMO.

Together with his family, he moved from Canada to the US to attend Phillips Exeter Academy in 2011 because schools in Canada could not offer a rich enough program to match his expectations (our school started 8 years later). He received a gold medal in the APMO, an honorable mention in the USAMO, and 3rd place in the CMO when he was in grade 8. As a result, he made the Canadian IMO team again where he got his first gold medal. In years to follow, he won 4 more gold medals in the IMO making him the most decorated participant in the history of the International Math Olympiad. Besides mathematics, Alex enjoys playing piano, playing chess, Bridge, solving the Rubik’s Cube, and other similar thought-games and puzzles. He also has a keen interest in sciences especially in physics and chemistry.

Many believe that shortly, Alex can potentially be the best mathematician of all time: As great as Newton, Euler, Gauss, Galois, and Abel. For the sake of comparison, the late Maryam Mirzakhani who won the Fields Medal in 2014, won 2 gold medals in the International Math Olympiad, while Alex has won 5 gold medals (as well as one bronze) in the same contest. Alex has won more gold medals in that contest than anyone else in history. But the question is why did Alex have to move from Canada to the United States during his middle school years?

I believe that the Canadian system of education does not respect personalized education: A type of education that is tailored to a student’s potential. I understand the importance of education for the general public, but I believe gifted education should not be sacrificed for public education designed for a broader general scope. Canada will continue to lose its human resources if it keeps ignoring bright minds such as Alex. The question is if we as Canadians want to see that brain drain. How many years, decades, centuries, or millennia would pass before Canada gets its next brilliant Alex Song and loses him that easily?
We started Laureates Academy for Gifted Students with Alex Song and other highly talented students who may not find an appropriate school to quench their thirst for advanced math, science literacy, or art. At Laureates Academy, we are hoping more and more students like Alex will find a place in their own great country where they can reach their true potentials.

Let me know your thoughts.