Friday, September 12, 2008

Recent report from Minister Lamrock

Sorry no postings lately. Actually, I have enjoyed not being on the blogosphere. However, it was very clear that this article had to be added to the blog. Please also make sure that you read the comments following Times and Transcript article.

I will be very curious to see what French programs will be developed for children in English Prime K-2 for this winter. Hopefully we will hear about the plans soon. -- Matt

Aloma Jardine--Times and Transcript
French program changes going well: minister
Published Thursday September 11th, 2008

Click here for link

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Recent EFI articles, comments and letters in NB papers

August 19th
Bilingualism is a significant strength for New Brunswick--repeat of Dubé article from the Telegraph-Journal-- The Daily Gleaner
Too many unanswered questions, writes Johnson--Letter--Kings County Record
Liberals hurt integrity of political process in FSL debacle--Repeat of Miramichi Leader piece on August 18th--Kings County record

August 18th
French Immersion debacle reveals Liberal strategy--Miramichi Leader
No French for start of 2008--Letter--The Daily-Gleaner

August 16th
Francophone committee will make us better--Telegraph-Journal
Bilingualism, strength for our province--Telegraph-Journal
Questions remain about FSL--Letter--Telegraph-Journal

Friday, August 15, 2008

When Bad Research Leads to Bad Policy: The Case of New Brunswick

This opinion piece was in response to EFI policy development in NB. It was written by Philip Oreopolous who is an Associate Professor of Economics, University of British Columbia and a University of Toronto Research Fellow, Canadian Institute For Advanced Research. It was written just before the decision was announced on August 5th and unfortunately it was not printed. However, it is a great piece and it should see the light of day. I believe it is still relevant, particularly when we see what has recently been written in the Ottawa Citizen (see post below).

When Bad Research Leads to Bad Policy: The Case of New Brunswick

Governments in Canada pay a lot for research and commission reports regularly to help develop public policy. Recently, policy makers have been placing more emphasis on experimental approaches to research for determining whether social programs are worth maintaining, or whether better alternatives to current policies exist.

These methods, sometimes collectively referred to as ‘evidence based policy’, involve setting up pilot projects or using historical events that allow the comparison of groups of individuals that are eligible or engaged in a particular program against other groups of individuals that are not eligible for the program, or enrolled instead in an alternative program. The experimental approach leads to strong conclusions about the overall impact of one policy compared to another.

Most often, however, governments rely on non-experimental research to draw policy conclusions. Non-experimental reports often use surveys or interviews, without a comparison group to draw policy conclusions. This approach requires working with data that was never intended to answer the questions at hand.

Often these reports draw strong conclusions when they really should not. We are inundated with research and reports drawing strong conclusions, and it is virtually impossible to tell from reading an executive summary or listening to a sound bite whether a study should be taken seriously or not.

Taking a report’s conclusions or sound bites at face value, without initial skepticism about how the report came to these conclusions can sometimes lead to disastrous policy mistakes.

For example, take the case of French Immersion reform in New Brunswick, which I use in my Public Policy class as a case example of when bad research can lead to bad policy. ....

Click here to link to full opinion piece

More letters and comments on EFI this week

August 15th
Letters Language program another rushed decision--Telepgraph-Journal
Bilingualism and FSL are a strength for N.B.--Times and Transcript

August 14th
Immersion decision is a disgrace--Letter--Telegraph-Journal
Is everyone now happy?--Letter (little longer than the one above)--Times and Transcript

August 13th
It's not 'elitist' to want immersion program that works--Letter commenting on Margaret Norrie McCain's opinion--Times and Transcript
Parents reluctantly accept FI changes--The Sackville Tribune Post

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Is the anti-EFI movement spreading to Ottawa?

July 10th
N.B. French immersion highly segregated, discriminatory: report--Ottawa Citizen

July 23rd
The real reason we send our kids to French immersion--Dan Gardner--Ottawa Citizen

August 12th
Let's talk about immersion--Elizabeth Payne member of the Ottawa Citizen Editorial Board

"... Ottawa school officials should be paying close attention to New Brunswick's stab at reform."

This is a very strange comment since the Ottawa Carleton Board of Education did conduct a very thorough study of FSL training in Ottawa. To use NB as an example at this time is rather odd isn't it?

EFI in NB papers--Monday and Tuesday

August 12th
Can a government learn?--Telegraph-Journal
N.B. on an untested path with immersion--Times and Transcript
No French until '09--Kings County Record
Local parent pleased with govt.'s compromise on French immersion--Northern Light
Hit the ground running--Kings County Record
NBers care don't you get it?--Kings County Record

August 11th
Province urged to ensure success of French program--Telegraph-Journal
Parents encouraged to keep fighting for better education--The Daily Gleaner
Local reaction to FSL revisions cautiously optimistic--Miramichi Leader

Saturday, August 9, 2008

EFI in the news on Friday and Saturday

August 7th
Letters Louis would be proud of change: widow & The 'how' of plan is not in place--Telegraph-Journal
Government passes big test--Telegraph-Journal
Sometimes, fear of change is hard to understand--Telegraph-Journal
Bilingualism and equality--Letter--The Daily Gleaner
There is no plan--Letter--The Daily Gleaner
New plan an improvement--Times and Transcript

August 8th
More research sought on language education--Telegraph-Journal
Bullying won't be forgotten--Great Letter from Michael Wilcott--Telegraph-Journal
Let's not drop Education issue--Telegraph-Journal
The education of government--Terrific Commentary by Lisa Keenan--Telegraph-Journal
Federation supporting aspects of FSL reform--Letter--Miramichi Leader
FSL changes step in wrong direction--Miramichi Leader
My thoughts exactly--Bugle-Observer
Minister unveils immersion compromise--Bugle-Observer

Thursday, August 7, 2008

More news on the Decision -- more sober reflections

English Media
FRENCH IMMERSION IN NEW BRUNSWICK: Thinking better of it--Thank you--Globe and Mail
Rural schools may not benefit from changes--The Daily Gleaner
Immersion plan pan--Fascinating--Telegraph-Journal
Lamrock hopes for universal teaching of French--Pay close attention to the comments--Telegraph-Journal
Rural schools to miss immersion benefits--Telegraph-Journal
Remember why debate started--Telegraph-Journal
Letters EFI plan offers a balanced approach: MP--Aargggh--Mr. Murphy you could have "quietly" patted yourself on the back too--In both the Telegraph-Journal and Times and Transcript

Francophone media
Français langue seconde : Madeleine Dubé dénonce le « pas dans la mauvaise direction »--Hebdosblogue
Les groupes de francophones plutôt satisfaits du compromis en
Immersion française : victoire aigre-douce pour les
La réforme suscite du scepticisme--Radio-Canada
Le programme révisé est mieux accueilli--L'Acadie Nouvelle
Immersion: bataille aux retombées inattendues --L'Acadie Nouvelle
L'avantage de la cogestion --L'Acadie Nouvelle

Thanks go to Dodie Perkin--I really needed your D-Mail today.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

So where are we now?

The Decision -- (click here to link to the revised FSL plan)

Minister Lamrock and the Liberal Government have decided that there will be a Universal K-2 Program effective September 2008. They have called this the “Universal Program K-2”. Curriculum modules will be developed to replace the current Core French program starting in January 2009 with the intent of exposing children to French and the Acadian culture during K-2. Unfortunately, at this point we don’t know what these modules will look like. After grade 2, parents will be provided a choice of enrolling their children in either Grade 3 immersion or the new “English Prime” program. As expected, he has also decided to implement intensive French for all students currently in the Core program. After grade 5, they will have the choice of late immersion or English Prime with post-intensive French.

So, where does the decision leave us? We, like a lot of other people, have put a tremendous amount of work into fighting the decision to end Early French Immersion in Canada’s only bilingual province. Was it worth it? Yes, for a number of reasons.

First, we must state that we are disappointed that the children who were registered in Early French Immersion for 2009 are not going to be able to enter that program, as we feel that they should have been grandfathered in. Further, we would have preferred a kindergarten or grade 1 entry-point with significant investment to make it more inclusive, and we worry about the untested and undeveloped aspects of the new plan. That said, the grade 3 entry-point to French immersion seems better than the original grade 6 plan developed by the government. It is our hope that grade 3, with appropriate preparation in K-2, will give children a reasonable chance of reaching advanced proficiency. We also hope that the promised additional resources will be provided to make immersion more inclusive.

Second, we have met a lot of really great people from across New Brunswick and Canada who have shared our concerns. We learned that a group of parents, grandparents and friends can, if they try hard enough, buck the system and get the government to listen to their point of view.

Third, we learned that the internet, with its ease of use and instant information transmission, is a terrific vehicle to challenge the government. Over the past 6 months the people of New Brunswick, and from all areas of Canada, have written many letters to editors, commented on-line about articles printed for and against the decision, and posted comments and proposals on the Government’s website. With email, Googledocs, YouTube, FaceBook, WebPages, Blogs and PayPal, it was possible to conduct research, engage effectively in this debate, and generate funds for a legal challenge. Thankfully, the judicial review was granted and this landmark decision forced the government to reopen this issue. Although grade 3 immersion is not the outcome we were hoping for, without the internet, our “e-voice”, coupled with a huge commitment from so many dedicated people, we expect that we would have been facing a far bleaker FSL education picture in NB than now appears to be the case.

The changes announced today by Minister Lamrock will take us down an uncertain path. Will kids starting immersion in grade 3 still become fully bilingual? Will more or fewer students enroll in immersion at this new entry point? Will streaming be made better or worse? Will having all students take the early years together result in better achievement for struggling learners or make no difference? Will all students do well with Intensive French? Unfortunately, only time will tell. The Minister is asking New Bruswickers to take a leap of faith here, which makes us nervous because it involves the education of children, but we can take solace in the fact that the leap now seems somewhat smaller than it was in March.

On a personal note, when my wife (Diana Hamilton) and I embarked on this incredibly time consuming journey, never in our wildest dreams did we anticipate what would actually transpire. Neither of us is an activist, nor an expert on the use of the internet for this purpose. While this process has been difficult at times and trying for our family, we value what we have learned and the friends we have made. We plan to remain engaged and we hope you will too.

Matt Litvak

P.S. To our friends in Sackville and elsewhere, you are tremendous. Your contributions to the blog have been much appreciated and very powerful.

Decision: Grade 3 Immersion -- unfortunately no grandfathering of EFI for 2008 grade 1 kids

I will comment later. However, for those interested here is the link to the Government's press release--Click here.

To look at the NB Government's revised FSL plan--CLICK HERE.

Decision Day

EARLY EDUCATION-- N.B. parents await answer on French immersion's fate--Globe and Mail
Liberals spend at taxpayers' expense--Bugle-Observer
Lamrock to make decision public today--The Daily Gleaner
Immersion reforms unveiled today--Times and Transcript
Today's the day--Telegraph-Journal
Letter of the day Cancelling early immersion won't fix the problem--Times and Transcript

Monday, August 4, 2008

One more day to wait for Minister Lamrock's decision

Some of the costs for removing Early French Immersion in NB:

'Maybe we'll be back in 10 years, maybe not at all'--Another family decides not to move back to NB if EFI is terminated--Telegraph-Journal

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Taking some time off in Quebec

Hi all. Forgot to sign off on Tuesday, too busy packing.
Will be back on Monday ready to blog.

Have you sent in your submission to Minister Lamrock?
If not, please do so -- Friday is the deadline.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

An Open Letter to Anglophones

Published Saturday, July 19th, 2008, Telegraph-Journal.

We have followed with great interest and concern the various initiatives undertaken by many anglophone parents to keep the early immersion program in place in New Brunswick. We applaud their various initiatives and we have decided that the time has come for francophones to take a stand and voice our support.

As is well known, early immersion has been in Canadian schools for more than four decades and Canada's immersion model has been exported to many countries. As is also well known, New Brunswick has long been perceived as a leader in promoting early immersion and as a model for English-French relations for the rest of Canada. The province's bilingual character defines New Brunswick and has given the province a competitive edge in attracting new economic activities, some would even argue that it constitutes our main competitive advantage.

This explains why members of the national media have been scratching their heads, trying to understand why New Brunswick would wish to turn back the clock. If the government proceeds with its plan, Canada's only officially bilingual province will stand out as a province without an early French immersion program.

The government's intention to eliminate early immersion, initially at least, was based on an extremely flawed and now completely discredited report - the Croll/Lee report, which, if nothing else, proved extremely expensive to New Brunswick taxpayers. It is still not at all clear for New Brunswickers what has and continues to motivate the government of New Brunswick to pursue its plan to eliminate early immersion. None of the arguments advanced by government officials are very convincing, and leading experts from both our English and French-language universities have been highly critical of the government's plan to eliminate early French immersion. New Brunswickers are being asked to embrace a new approach without any assurance that it will work. The gamble is too high given what is at stake.

The issue is extremely important to New Brunswick and its political and economic future, and we strongly recommend that the government of New Brunswick take the time necessary to review the matter in detail.

At a minimum, the government of New Brunswick should accept the recommendation made by various groups and individuals to delay the elimination of early French immersion until September 2009 to enable a thorough review of the issue and allow a meaningful public engagement process.

BERNARD CYR, President-CEO, Cyr Holdings Inc.
MONIQUE IMBEAULT, Lawyer, McInnes Cooper
RODRIGUE LANDRY, Institut canadien de recherche sur les minorités linguistiques, Université de Moncton
JEAN LANTEIGNE, Executive Director, Association des crabiers
LOUIS LAPIERRE, Environmentalist
VIOLA LÉGER, Former Senator
DENIS LOSIER, President-CEO, Assomption Society
GEORGE MARCOUX, Economic Development Specialist
CHRISTIAN MICHAUD, Lawyer, Cox and Palmer
LISE OUELLETTE, Executive Director, Association francophone des municipalités du Nouveau-Brunswick
RODNEY OUELLETTE, CEO and Director of Discovery, Atlantic Cancer Research Institute
JACQUELINE ROBICHAUD, Widow of Former Premier Louis J. Robichaud
ANDRÉE SAVOIE, Acadian Construction
DONALD J. SAVOIE, Chaire de recherche du Canada en administration publique et en gouvernance Université de Moncton
MARIO THÉRIAULT, President-CEO, ShiftCentral

Click here to link to article

Merci pour votre appui! Thank you for your support!

For two reports on this story see:

'Gamble is too high'--Language: Prominent francophones blast the Liberal government for proposal to axe early French immersion--Telegraph-Journal

French community opposes loss of early immersion--Prominent NBers pen letter supporting fight against controversial reforms--Times and Transcript

Friday, July 18, 2008

This week in Early French Immersion, Part III

July 19th
Compromise needed on immersion--Letter--Telegraph-Journal

July 18th
Immersion process ready to move on--Times and Transcript
Something doesn’t add up--Letter--Bugle-Observer

July 16th
Governments often consult in private--Letter--[Blogger's comment: Sometimes, but on this one? Read the comments on this article--they are to the point]--The Daily Gleaner.
Lack of immersion to pressure District 5--The Tribune
Stakeholders disagree re: FSL meeting--Miramichi Leader

July 15th
Bureaucratic attitudes also have to change--Times & Transcript
Parents must fund real bilingual education-The Daily Gleaner

Monday, July 14, 2008

Is New Brunswick's unilingual past our future?

Telegraph-Journal, Monday July 14th, Janet Toole, Grandparents for EFI.

Early French Immersion in Fredericton has developed over 34 years, and built a solid reputation for graduating bilingual young persons. There are imperfections, but they can be dealt with.

All children can succeed in EFI, with the proper encouragement.

Like the gift of another language, Measha Brueggergosman was assisted in her music, all the way through school, by Early French Immersion.
"Grandparents for EFI" laud this motto: "Language is the sound of music." "

Click here to link to full article

Also see:
FSL plan is without benefits of bilingualism & Lamrock has no interest in bilingualism, only inclusion--Letters--The Daily Gleaner

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Are things looking up? Mixed messages

July 12th
The Sleuth--Now for something that has hit a few more sour notes--Times & Transcript
Two words that gave, then took away, hope: Education Minister says his idea of a 'working group' on French language wasn't exactly what people thought--Telegraph-Journal
Don't expect formal working group: Lamrock--Education minister wants to meet with several small groups of stakeholders about French immersion plans--Times & Transcript
Not even close to bilingual--Letter--The Daily Gleaner [We were a bit surprised when we saw the letter from Premier Graham too]

July 11th
Secrecy doesn't make for open government. In our view: Barring the public from French consultations isn't what the judge ordered--Editorial --The Daily Gleaner.
Meeting of minds: Education Opposing sides in French second-language debate laud roundtable discussion--Telegraph-Journal
FSL experts offer variety of views at stakeholders' meeting--Telegraph-Journal
Be fair and reasonable--Letter--Telegraph-Journal
Educators look for solutions--French Minister says 'clash of ideas' may be beneficial--The Daily Gleaner
Immersion changes could be delayed: minister--Kelly Lamrock suggests working group could help develop alternatives to controversial changes--Times and Transcript
Talk about the writing on the wall--Letter--Bugle-Observer

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Future of French immersion discussed in Fredericton

Minister says he may consider delaying changes.
Click here to see full report from CBC.

For some comments from inside the Roundtable

"The Independent" tried to "blog live" from inside the roundtable until he was asked to shut down in order to respect the wishes of some of the participants. For comments on his perspective of this event go to:

More articles and letters

July 10th
Language education discussions on today--Telegraph-Journal
Some education stakeholders don't want to be in spotlight--Daily Gleaner

July 9th
Grown tired of Immersion lies--Times and Transcript
EFI not a cause of illiteracy & EFI changes won't help--Telegraph-Journal
Bad math behind education changes - statistician--Daily Gleaner

July 8th
Few open house visitors, but majority favoured early immersion: Watson--King's County Record
'Rural' and 'poor' not the same & Hold government accountable --Telegraph-Journal
School results symptomatic--Times and Transcript
Trading bilingualism for 'speaking French effectively': In our view: Plan will give a diluted version of French to many, rather than a bilingual education to a few--Editorial--Daily Gleaner (way to go Gleaner--there may be hope for the main NB Papers after all)
French immersion not responsible for N.B.'s literacy woes--OpEd piece by Bruce Roberston--Daily Gleaner

July 7th
Congratulations, Shawn Graham--Miramichi Leader

Sunday, July 6, 2008

This Week in Early French Immersion--Part Deux

Be 'fair' and 'reasonable'--July 5th--Times and Transcript
Spelling out changes to our french language programs--July 5th--Daily Gleaner
Stakesholders applaud francophone education appointment--July 5th--Daily Gleaner

Only francophones will be bilingual--Letters-July 4th--Telegraph-Journal
Immersion changes threaten job prospects--Letters--July 4th--Daily Gleaner
Consultation meaningless--Letter--July 4th--Miramichi Leader
Ground gets shakier for Liberals--July 4th--Telegraph-Journal

Listening to silence--July 3rd--Telegraph-Journal [Read the comments--they say it all]
Alberta district not stealing French immersion teachers--July 3rd--Daily Gleaner

Public education: a public melting pot--July 2nd--Tribune
Premier could learn something & The fix was in from the start--Letters--July 2nd--Times & Transcript
Liberal voice sings alone--July 2nd--Daily Gleaner
Early French immersion proponents seem to want less choice, not more & Immersion cut doesn't address education woes--Letters (see comments)--July 2nd--Daily Gleaner

Saturday, June 28, 2008

This Week in Early French Immersion

June 28th, 2008
Streaming isn't a reason to eliminate EFI--Telegraph-Journal
Summertime, and the living is crazy--Telegraph-Journal
Experts agree with assessment that early immersion works--Letter- The Daily Gleaner
Streaming happens outside immersion--Your View - The Daily Gleaner
Kelly Lamrock: who named you a superhero? Times and Transcript

June 27th
Premier must heed reccomendations--Letter ThisWeek
Both sides in immersion debate not being treated fairly--Letter - The Daily Gleaner

June 26th
Sussex councillors vote unanimously to delay early French immersion decision--Telegraph-Journal
Immersion Parents have opportunity to voice concerns about French program--Telegraph-Journal
Experts should set direction for French immersion debate--The Daily Gleaner
Parents keen to learn about education choices--The Daily Gleaner

June 25th
Supervisor should have been ID'ed--Letter- Times and Transcript (link to letter that this entry cites -- Ombudsman's report appears to be predetermined)
FSL: something subtle and remarkable--Miramichi Leader

June 24th
Listen to what the experts say--Letter - Telegraph-Journal
French immersion court ruling impedes preparation time, says one retired educator--The Northern Light
The Way I See It: Minister's failing grade won't change final outcome--The Northern Light
Elimination of early immersion is 'a serious mistake': MP Godin--The Northern Light
Patience gone for unreasonable minister--Bugle-Observer
The solution to streaming is access to help for struggling students--Kings County Record,

June 23rd
Education issue is about choice--Letter - Telegraph-Journal
Graduates say being bilingual is essential--The Daily Gleaner
Children learn best when young--Letter Times and Transcript

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This Week -- Department of Education Open Houses

A series of open houses, hosted by the nine anglophone school districts, will take place on Wednesday, June 25 from 12 noon – 8 p.m., and on Saturday, June 28 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. District representatives will be on hand to provide information and answer questions, and people can also submit written comments at the events.

Please attend and make your opinions known.

Click here to link to DOE site listing their locations

Do not forget to get your comments to Minister Lamrock and DOE.

To share your views with Minister Lamrock and DOE please click this link to go to their comments submission site.

Click here to see comments published on DOE's website.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Ottawa-Carelton District School Board's Review of FSL programs, elementary phase

EFI equals streaming - right? Not necessarily. However, Late Immersion does. See below:

Bloggers' note:
As indicated in a previous blog entry, the Ottawa-Carleton Board of Education decided to terminate their Late French Immerision Program because they found that it caused streaming problems. It is an interesting read and we would strongly recommend that this report be read by all interested parties. Clearly it should have been read by Croll and Lee.

Additional note: unlike the Croll-Lee review, which had no reference list and cited only a handful of papers (mostly reports), the Ottawa-Carleton review actually had a reference section (4.5 pages long) containing numerous peer-reviewed publications. This suggests that they actually did the background research to develop their conclusions. This presents another question: Not only is the Croll-Lee report flawed and discredited based on their math and unsupported conclusions, but why did they not review the literature? Perhaps there is no current scientific evidence to support their approach and conclusions. Also, why didn't Croll and Lee cite the Ottawa-Carelton review? It is very pertinent to our situation - Ottawa is a bilingual environment with similar participation in French Immersion programs. Clearly, New Brunswickers deserve better.

With regard to streaming, segregation (an unfortunate term that DOE is using), and class heterogeneity there are numerous quotes from the Ottawa-Carelton review that are pertinent to Minister Lamrock's and DoE's most recent justification for terminating EFI in NB. Here are two:

  • "Much of the debate within the immersion literature has focused on the appropriateness of this type of program [FI] for certain groups of students (e.g., ELLs, students withspecial needs, students in their early years of schooling). While it is acknowledgedthat early on this may have been the case, more recent research suggests that immersion programs are not elitist (particularly in EFI), and that there can, and should, be an appropriate program option for all groups of children, including those with special education needs and those for whom English is their second language."
  • "Immersion programs have traditionally been viewed as being elitist. However, Dube and MacFarlane (1991) argued that while this may have been the case in the initial stages of implementation, EFI typically serves a more heterogeneous student population in terms of cognitive ability and social background. The reason for this is that parents of children in SK have little knowledge of their child's academic ability because it has not yet been formally assessed. By grade 4 or grade 7, however, parental decisions to register in MFI and/or LFI programs are based more on a child's academic ability, resulting in more homogeneous groupings than those found in the EFI program."

Click here to download the full report

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Busy and weird day


Lamrock turns down ombudsman's advice on French immersion--The Daily Gleaner

Parents take sides on French immersion changes--The Daily Gleaner

Watchdog fails Lamrock on immersion changes--Times and Transcript

N.B. firm on stopping early immersion programs--The Globe and Mail

N.B. Liberals face public scrutiny following difficult legislative

'Serious flaws' in FSL process: report --

Embarrassing Editorials from NB papers

Let's not delay essential change --Times and Transcript -- or Bloggers' Alternative Title -- What facts? Who needs facts? Let's make a change for change's sake.

No place for politics -- Telegraph Journal -- Bloggers' comment: Since the editor likes Thoreau, here is another of his quotes -- "It takes two to speak the truth: one to speak, and another to hear." Maybe it is time the editor starts listening.

A few more stories today--let's see what happens tomorrow.

N.B. government rejects ombudsman's plea--Globe and Mail

N.B. Liberals face public scrutiny following difficult legislative

Let MLAs consult the public--Telegraph-Journal

Ombudsman recommends 1-year delay to French immersion changes--CBC

District 18 students excel in test--The Daily Gleaner [Note: District 18 does have EFI]

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Report of the Ombudsman into the Minister of Education’s decision to modify the French Second Language Curriculum

Ombudsman and Child and Youth Advocate
June 2008

Click here to link to the report that comes out strongly supporting the concerns and comments of so many New Brunswickers.

A few excerpts

"Jurisdiction and Scope of Investigation

On April 3, 2008, my notice of investigation summarized the main areas of investigation under the following headings:

  • Unfairness stemming from a lack of consultation
  • Unfairness due to insufficient notice prior to implementation
  • Decision premised upon a mistake of fact arising from errors in statistical
    analysis and other factual errors
  • Failure to consider all the evidence before the Commissioners and before the
  • Bias arising from an alleged pre-determination of the consultation outcomes
  • Determination of FSL policy on the basis of irrelevant grounds or considerations,
    or for an improper purpose
  • Failure to consider commitments of citizen engagement in the government
    response to the Commission on Legislative Democracy


It is recommended that:

  1. The Minister immediately confirm plans with the school districts to allow parents to register Grade one students in French immersion in September.
  2. The Government defer the consultation announced by Minister Lamrock and delay implementation of the elimination of early French immersion until September 2009, pending the outcome of a public engagement process as outlined in the provincial government’s recent report, authored by the province’s Advisor on Public Engagement, Don Lenihan, and entitled: “It’s More than Talk: Listen, Learn and Act: A New Model for Public Engagement.” Further, that the services of a highly qualified consultant, such as Mr. Lenihan, be retained to carry out the process, concluding in time for the next (2009-2010) school year."

Second shoe set to drop

Report Ombudsman will weigh in today on the decision to axe early immersion


FREDERICTON - Ombudsman Bernard Richard's report on the province's elimination of early French immersion is set to deal another blow to the government when it is released today.

Weeks after Education Minister Kelly Lamrock took the axe to early immersion, and with more than 200 complaints flooding into the Ombudsman's office, Richard announced his intention to review the process behind the decision.

Click here to link to full article

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Some background information to help clarify the relationship between FSL and first language skills

A report commissioned by the Atlantic Provinces Education Foundation, which NB is a member, examined the effects of second language learning on first language literacy skills.

Click here to go to the Monique Bournot-Trites and Ulrike Tellowitz"Report of Current Research on the Effects of Second Language Learning on First Language Literacy Skills"

Their conclusions were clear:

  1. There is no negative effect of second language training on first language proficiency, and
  2. Second language training seemed to actually boost proficiency in first language literacy skills.

See excerpt from their report below:

"The effect of learning a second language (e.g. French) on first language skills has been positive in all studies done. Furthermore, the loss of instructional time in English (first language) in favour of the second language has never been shown to have negative effects on the achievement of the first language. Cummins' interdependence hypothesis, which maintains that language skills are being transferred from one language to the other, can be assumed to be true for the core French situation as well. One can confidently assume that cognitive abilities acquired in the learning of one language can be put to use in the acquisition and proficiency of the other language. Numerous studies about the relationship of second language learning to first language skills support this claim. In these studies the first language skills did not suffer. On the contrary, in many studies first language skills were shown to be enhanced, even if instruction time in L1 [first language] was reduced in favour of L2 [second language] instruction.

The literature gives us this very positive evidence about the value of learning a second language. These advantages have been shown in the above studies to be in the cognitive area; but another important educational factor is the positive attitude and understanding it creates for other cultures. Lapkin and Swain (1984, p. 52) report on a study of compositions that grade 5 and 6 students had to write, about "Why I like being Canadian." The immersion students gave on average two to three times as many reasons than did the English comparison groups. They commented especially on the rich and varied cultural and linguistic composition of Canada. This was seen to be a very positive and encouraging consequence of learning a second language." (pages 30 and 31).

Nice analogy

Bugle Observer

Dear Editor,

Imagine the minister of Transportation unveiled a new plan for a bridge over the St. John River.

Imagine also that dozens of mathematicians found flaws in the calculations for the design, the manufacturers of the major components of the bridge said they wouldn't carry the weight, all New Brunswick civil engineers said it wouldn't work, and a large part of the public said it wasn't what they wanted any way.

If the minister were given the chance to relaunch the project, do you think the minister should offer up the same discredited design?

If you answered ‘no,' you should hope that (Education) Minister (Kelly) Lamrock never takes over the transportation portfolio, because that is exactly the approach he is taking with his ‘consultation' on French language instruction.

Even though the rebuke by Justice McLellan gave him a golden opportunity to re-design the FSL plan according to professional advice, Lamrock has decided to relaunch the old, discredited Croll and Lee plan.

His ‘consultative' Web site even links to the exact same document that stirred the controversy weeks ago, the document that dozens of mathematicians considered statistically flawed, that was rejected by the inventors of Intensive French (the plan's major component), that all N.B. language experts have opposed, and that summoned sufficient public opposition to land the minister in court.

In educational planning, just as in engineering, if the design is wrong, you go back to the drawing board; if you try to fix a fundamentally flawed design, it ends in disaster. waiting to come home,

Shelley Ashfield, P. Eng., Cortenay, B.C.

French cuts delayed by judge's decision, or not

By Charlene MacKenzie
King's Record

SAINT JOHN In the wake of a judge's decision overturning the province's elimination of early French immersion this fall, New Brunswickers may not know whether the axe is still falling until Aug. 5.

Kings East MLA Bruce Northrup says if he could look into a crystal ball, he's pretty sure he'd see Education Minister Kelly Lamrock going ahead with the status quo, implementing the sweeping changes he announced March 14.
Parents are looking for a one-year moratorium on the changes and a proper investigation, not six weeks of "lip service," Keith said of Lamrock's proposed online consultation period.

"He needs to consult real French second language experts and end up with something credible, not full of flaws, mistakes, innuendo and anecdotes."

She's awaiting Ombudsman Bernard Richard's report later this month on his investigation into the province's decision to cut early immersion.

"It's far from over," agreed Northrup, who believes Lamrock and the Liberal government wasted a chance to take another year to consult experts in favour of adhering to their controversial plan. ...

Click here to link to full article.

Early immersion supporters call for one-year moratorium on reforms

The request comes in the wake of a court decision last week forcing the government to reopen debate on its plan for early immersion. To that end, Education Minister Kelly Lamrock launched a six-week consultation period.
"The government really has to go back to the drawing board and really listen to people, and make their voices count," said Jane Keith, the group's executive director. Lamrock's method of inviting people to share their opinions via the Internet, rather than face-to-face, is inadequate, she added.

Citizens for Educational Choice, the group that took Lamrock's proposal to axe early immersion into the courts, also issued a release Monday blasting the government over a brochure that was distributed in weekend newspapers.

The brochure provides an update on the province's education initiatives and includes a statement on the plan to eliminate early immersion.

"It clearly contravenes the decision that came down (in the court)," said Tim Jackson, who was involved in organizing the court challenge.

Communications New Brunswick spokesman Tim Porter said the education brochure was created and distributed to newspapers a full week before the court ruling came down, noting its purpose was to provide a comprehensive update.

Groups have started latching on to almost anything that could be construed in some way to support their point, Porter said.

"We are taking the high road," he said. "We are trying to consult. We are trying to come up with good ideas."

Bloggers' comment:

We are sure we are not the only ones confused about Mr. Porter's comments. Does the recent glossy insert entitled "Becoming the best - update on public education initiatives Anglophone sector" sent out June 14th contravene the ruling of court?

We must remind Mr. Porter that Minister Lamrock's decision on March 14th to end Early French Immersion in NB was quashed by Justice McLellan in his ruling on June 11th.

However, on the last page of the recent DOE flyer they indicated that Intensive French in grade 5 is the universal entry point to FSL learning; i.e, no more early French Immersion as of 2008. We realize that this flyer was printed before the ruling, however, the government did not stop its distribution. It was distributed through all three major NB Newspapers on Saturday, June 14th.

Clearly, DOE and NB Communication had enough time to ask the publishers to not insert the glossies in Saturday's papers. As of this posting, it is still on their website.

Canadian Parents for French calls for one-year moratorium


The New Brunswick branch of Canadian Parents for French is calling for a one-year moratorium on any changes to early French immersion and early core French.

The group is also requesting that a working group of French second-language experts and researchers be established - similar to the working group that was set up to look at post-secondary education - to develop the best possible French second-language plan for the province.

"We know the system has to be fixed, but that doesn't mean slash and burn, and eliminating programs that produce a high level of French proficiency, like early French immersion," said Jane Keith, the group's executive director.

She said parents aren't comfortable with Education Minister Kelly Lamrock heading up another round of consultation.

"Lamrock needs to put the brakes on and remove himself from the debate," said Keith.

"He's too enmeshed in the issue to be impartial. We need impartial French second-language experts and researchers to give us good, solid, trustworthy advice this time around."
Click here to link to article.

Monday, June 16, 2008

More Great Letters

Daily Gleaner
Some thoughts on Lamrock’s immersion plan -- Bruce Robertson, Sackville, NB
When confronted with parent school support committee surveys showing that parents oppose his French secondlanguage plans in a ratio of about 4:1, Education Minister Kelly Lamrock doubted the statistics, claiming that some who had expressed their opposition in the survey had subsequently telephoned to inform him that they had mis-voted.
I hope the next time someone conveniently parrots his talking points, Lamrock will have the forthrightness to inform them there is no reason to believe any greater number of students will be in immersion after Grade 5 under his plan, which provides only late French immersion. ...

Telegraph Journal
Lamrock shouldn't talk of abuse -- Sameera Yusuf, Fredericton, NB
It is amusing and revealing to hear Kelly Lamrock say that he and his colleagues "have a high threshold for abuse."
Are we to understand that the honourable judge's order to hold Lamrock to his promise of full consultation on the EFI issue constitutes abuse? Who is the minister to talk about abuse? He has abused the people's trust and our children's future. ...

Minister has lost credibility -- Bill Evans, Sackville, NB
Judge McLellan said the Minister's decision was "unfair and unreasonable" which confirmed the conclusion so many of us had reached after months of dealing with him on this issue. Simply put, Kelly Lamrock has lost all credibility with the public over his handling of this file. ...

Six weeks is not enough time -- Jean-Guy Richard, Notre Dame, NB
Following the court decision, it is obvious that six weeks is not long enough to consult and exchange ideas with all the stakeholders. ...


June 16, 2008, Globe and Mail Print Edition

'Quashing" is a technical, but pleasingly expressive word for what happened to an ill-considered decision to phase out early French immersion (EFI) in New Brunswick, Canada's most genuinely bilingual province, and our only officially bilingual one.

The judgment on Wednesday of Mr. Justice Hugh McLellan of the province's Court of Queen's Bench rightly took no position on the policy issues of bilingualism and education. On procedural grounds, he quashed, or struck down, a decision in March by Kelly Lamrock, the Minister of Education of New Brunswick. But those matters of procedure point to matters of substance.

One moral of the story may be that politicians should be careful of what they promise in the way of consultation. In July, 2007, the New Brunswick government appointed two commissioners to review second-language education in the province. The government would respond to their report within two months, which Mr. Lamrock said would "allow for a full debate and cabinet response."

The commissioners reported at the end of February. A government news release said the views of citizens on their findings and recommendations would be welcome and listened to.

The report found that many children who start in early French immersion do not carry on in French through high school, and concluded that it should be phased out.

That was just before the March break began. Within two weeks, Mr. Lamrock announced that the phase-out would start in September.

On the causes of the attrition in EFI, the commissioners had little to say. The report has many quotes and numbers, but little analysis - a gap that a real public debate could fill.

Two parents applied for judicial review, and Judge McLellan decided that Mr. Lamrock had raised a legitimate expectation that citizens would really be listened to on this language issue.

It is now Mr. Lamrock's legal duty to go back and review the question. Early French immersion in New Brunswick has at least two months more of a lease of life.

Canada leads the world in French immersion, and hitherto New Brunswick led Canada in providing it. The provincial government must now engage in genuine consultation, and the result should not be a forgone conclusion. It has an opportunity to reconsider its rushed ending of this valuable program.

Click here to link to article

District 16 schools planning for possibility [of] continuation of early French immersion

Published Monday June 16th, 2008
by Daniel Martins

Education Minister Kelly Lamrock announced the end of early French immersion in March, to be replaced by intensive French beginning in Grade 5. Core French would also have been abolished.
In the ruling, Justice Hugh McLellan of the Court of Queen's Bench called Lamrock's decision "unfair and unreasonable," and said the government needed more public consultation before making a final decision on early immersion.
Retired early immersion teacher Esther Mahoney said she was pleased at the judge's decision.

"We certainly need time for consultation," she said. "Hopefully [Lamrock] will be listening to the concerns of the parents and put a bit more thought into it before there is action; put some more thought into the future of our children, and certainly the future of bilingualism in the province."
During question period in the legislature last week, the Opposition Conservatives charged that Lamrock would scrap the program regardless of what the six-week consultation shows.

"This minister has no intention of debating the people of New Brunswick," said Opposition MLA Keith Ashfield. "He will take from those discussions what he wants, with no expertise other than his own, to promote French second language education in this province."

MLA Mike Olscamp wondered if the six-week consultation program was long enough.

"Given the chaos that has been created with this decision, does the minister believe that, come September, those issues will be settled and the school year will get off to a smooth, good start?" he said.

Click here to link to full article

Saturday, June 14, 2008

More articles in NB Press today

Telegraph Journal

Have your say on French immersion -- Minister Lamrock's approach to consultation about FSL training in NB.
Over the next few weeks, I will be given all submissions daily for my personal review, and I will be meeting weekly with staff of the Department of Education to review submissions again. During the six-week consultation period, government will participate in a roundtable with interested stakeholder groups, and the department will organize an open-house session in each of the nine anglophone school districts. ...
Click here to see full article and the comments in the Telegraph-Journal
Click here to see full article and the comments in the Daily Gleaner

FSL decision: wake-up call for Graham?--Robert Macleod Commentary.
Earlier this week, the justice system dealt a blow to Shawn Graham and Kelly Lamrock's plans to gut French second language education in the province. In his decision, Justice Hugh McLellan declared that the Liberal government's plan to eliminate both the Early French Immersion and the Core French programs was "unfair and unreasonable."
Anyone who has been following this debate most certainly agrees with the court. From the very beginning of this phony "debate" the Liberal government has shown nothing but contempt for concerned New Brunswickers. This contempt and an attempt at political trickery were evident at the very start of the process when the plan was sprung on New Brunswickers the Friday before March break, giving people basically only a week to respond.
The Court has left Shawn Graham some wiggle room to get out of this mess altogether... if he is clever enough to seize it. He should take advantage of the window presented by the Court and announce a plan to delay any changes for another school year. The Premier should announce that before he allows Kelly Lamrock to make any changes there will be a truly independent commission that will seek public input. The commission should be comprised of experts from the education faculties of the University of New Brunswick and the Université de Moncton.
Shawn Graham needs to do the right thing, and he needs to do it now. He needs to move Lamrock out of education and then unite this province by building an FSL education system that is acceptable to New Brunswickers.

Letter -- Impose the will of the citizens -- Lisa Herrington
It is obvious that the parents of New Brunswick are not willing to give up the early immersion option for their children. ...
When a report that was commissioned is proven to be flawed, then that report - no matter how vital to the minister's position - has got to be discarded. Educational choice must be restored. Anything less is unacceptable.
My 13-year-old daughter said to me last week "How is it that, the government is being sued by the same people it is supposed to be governing?"
"Exactly," was my reply. A 13-year-old child gets it, so why can't this government?

Times and Transcript
School districts make French plans -- Aloma Jardine

The Daily Gleaner
Referendum needed to solve French immersion issue?
Lamrock should resign

Friday, June 13, 2008

Be a part of it. A discussion paper for New Brunswickers.

Minister Lamrock's discussion paper is now out. Excerpts of particular significance from Minister Lamrock's document (click here to link to document):

"5. The Judicial Review
Some parents felt that the consultation period had not been sufficient for a number of reasons, and made application for a judicial review of the decision to eliminate the Early French Immersion program. On June 11, 2008 a judicial ruling was made that the Minister’s decision be “quashed”. Effectively, this means that the Minister’s previous decision to eliminate Early French Immersion is void and no longer applies. However, the matter of dealing with the Croll Lee Report recommendations was remitted to the Minister, who has decided to re-visit those recommendations.

6. Next Steps - Consultation
In reconsidering the Croll Lee recommendations, the Minister has committed to six weeks of consultation, ending on July 25, 2008. You are therefore asked to consider the challenges presented here, and to present your submissions, comments or proposals to the Minister either electronically or in paper copy, on or before July 25, 2008.

In addition to receiving written submissions, comments or proposals, the Minister will actively engage in the consultation process by meeting with interested groups or individuals. He will also review all comments, submissions and queries as they are received, so that he is fully informed at all times. After this additional period of consultation, the Minister will make recommendations to government. Government’s decision will be announced publicly on August 5, 2008."

Bloggers' comment: We look forward to "being a part of it". Hopefully the debate will be open and that the $100,000 spent on the communication report* will now pay dividends.

*Click here to link to: "It’s More Than Talk Listen, Learn and Act A New Model for Public Engagement The Final Report of the Public Engagement Initiative April 2008"

We will just list titles and links because there is so much news coverage today

Published Friday June 13th, 2008
The Daily Gleaner

Times and Transcript



Thursday, June 12, 2008

Des parents réjouis qui continueront leur combat

Mise à jour le jeudi 12 juin 2008
Par: Mylène Doiron
L'Acadie Nouvelle

SAINT-JEAN - L’émotion était à son comble dans une salle bondée de la Cour du Banc de la Reine, hier, à Saint-Jean, dans l’attente du jugement sur l’abolition du programme d’immersion précoce.

Les éclats de voix, les rires et les pleurs ont perturbé l’atmosphère habituellement calme de la cour lorsque les parents et les enfants qui les accompagnaient ont laissé éclater leur joie en apprenant que le juge leur avait donné raison.

"C’est de l’émotion! Ouf! C’est une décision très positive, l’immersion précoce demeure au N.-B. Le juge donne la possibilité au gouvernement de revisiter sa décision et d’avoir un processus de consultation adéquat", laisse entendre Jacqueline Jacob-Vogels, de Sackville et dont l’un des enfants est en immersion précoce.

Seule ombre au tableau: rien n’empêche le ministre Lamrock d’abolir à nouveau le programme d’immersion précoce dès qu’un processus de consultation raisonnable aura eu lieu. Malgré tout, Mme Jacob-Vogels a confiance.

"Je pense qu’il y a eu assez de débats. On a maintenant des parents, un juge, des enseignants, l’AEFNB, l’ombudsman, des spécialistes en éducation et en langue seconde qui ont dit que le programme que vous (le gouvernement provincial) proposez n’est pas bon.

"Je ne peux pas voir que le gouvernement va poursuivre avec ce qu’il voulait implanter. Alors, prenez le temps de consulter et de développer un programme adéquat pour nos jeunes", lance-t-elle en message au gouvernement.

Ray Small, patriarche de l’une des familles demanderesses dans cette enquête judiciaire, est enchanté de la décision rendue par le juge McLellan.

"D’après ce qu’on peut comprendre, le programme d’immersion précoce vient d’être réinstauré. La cour a parlé. Le ministre doit maintenant mener un processus de consultation du public qui sera juste et ouvert. C’est fantastique!" s’exclame M. Small.

Matthew Litvak et son épouse, Dianna Hamilton, sont professeurs de biologie et de statistiques. Ils ont lu et analysé le rapport Croll-Lee de façon extensive avant de rédiger eux-mêmes un document qui en démontrait les failles.

"Nous allons continuer à mettre en évidence les failles du rapport Croll-Lee. Nous voulons que tous soient au courant. Manifestement, le gouvernement ne nous a pas écoutés et il n’a pas écouté tous les experts qui ont admis que le rapport comportait plusieurs problèmes", déclare Mme Hamilton.

Phoebe Robertson, en 7e année à l’école Marshview, de Sackville, a séché les cours, hier, pour venir entendre la décision du juge.

"J’étais furieuse quand j’ai su que le gouvernement abolissait le programme d’immersion. Dans ma classe, tout le monde parle très bien français. Ça fonctionne, l’immersion! soutient celle qui est passée par le programme d’immersion précoce.

"L’immersion française m’a ouvert tellement de portes! Si mes enfants n’avaient pas ce choix-là, je pense bien que je déménagerais, c’est trop important le français!"

Pour Matthew Litvak, le temps est venu pour le gouvernement de prêter une oreille attentive aux inquiétudes et aux suggestions des parents.

"Nous sommes inquiets, comme tous les parents devraient l’être. Après tout, nous confions au gouvernement la tâche d’éduquer nos enfants. J’espère bien qu’il réalisera que ses actions étaient complètement inappropriées et qu’il prendra finalement conscience que le N.-B. est une province bilingue et que les anglophones souhaitent que leurs enfants soient capables d’interagir avec la communauté francophone."

Question Period NB Legislature.

Minister Lamrock refused to answer any of Mme. Dubé's questions about whether the Early French Immersion program would be re-instated today as was ordered in Judge McLellan's decision.

Click here to link to the question period in today's Hansard.

Coverage in NB press

Lamrock says he's ready for 'abuse'
Published Thursday June 12th, 2008
The Canadian Press

The provincial government is being forced to reconsider its decision to scrap early French immersion, but it's not backing away from the plan yet.
Education Minister Kelly Lamrock said Wednesday he will bow to a court ruling that quashes his decision and orders the government to allow for a "full debate" on the plan to eliminate early French immersion, beginning in Grade 1.
Lamrock said he will allow six weeks of consultation in June and July before making a final decision Aug. 5, leaving just enough time to make changes for the start of the school year in September.
But he warned that the status quo is not acceptable, saying if parents who want to keep early immersion believe they can hammer the government into submission, they are wrong.
"I and my colleagues have a high threshold for abuse," he said, adding he is open to new ideas on how to improve French language instruction in Canada's only officially bilingual province.
Justice Hugh McLellan of the New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench ruled it was "unfair and unreasonable" of the government to axe early immersion in English schools without allowing for full debate and public consultation.
Click here to see full article and comments on the web

Parents win round
Published Thursday June 12th, 2008

Clea Ward is celebrating with caution.
The Fredericton mom is thrilled Justice Hugh McLellan of the New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench sided with parents opposed to the provincial government's decision to cut early French immersion.
He has allowed a judicial review of the government's decision, stating Education Minister Kelly Lamrock was unfair and unreasonable in not allowing enough time for debate on the issue.
The ruling is a victory for parents, but the fight is not over, Ward said.
"I'm cautious about celebrating too much because I don't know what this will mean for early French immersion in the long run," Ward said. "(Lamrock) has been so set in this decision that I'm not sure he's going to take this ruling seriously."
Click here to see full article and comments on the web.

Judge forces province to play nice
Published Thursday June 12th, 2008
Ruling Government to seek more public input on early French immersion after decision.
SAINT JOHN - Parents won a victory in the divisive battle over early French immersion in New Brunswick schools Wednesday as Justice Hugh McLennan ruled the government fell down on its duty to consult with the public.
Calling Education Minister Kelly Lamrock's decision "unfair and unreasonable," McLellan quashed the phase-out of early immersion and urged the province to allow time for interested citizens to make their opinions heard.
To that end, Lamrock will be opening up the issue to a six-week discussion period, during which other potential programming plans can be tabled and examined. On Aug. 5, a final decision will be announced that will determine what happens in September.
Elation erupted at the Court of Queen's Bench - filled to capacity with parents, children and journalists - after the judge handed out paper copies of his seven-page decision. A brief scramble to obtain copies of the documents was followed by silence as people pored over the contents.
Soon, gasps of "we won" rang out from parents and a few hand claps grew into a round of applause. Handshakes and hugs were exchanged, and backs slapped.
"We're feeling pretty great," said Ray Small, one of the parents named in the affidavit submitted with the application for a judicial review of Lamrock's decision.
"The court has spoken."
Click here to see full article and comments on the web

Setback should be opportunity as well
Published Thursday June 12th, 2008
MARTY KLINKENBERG, Telegraph-Journal

The government that spent $100,000 this spring to learn how to better engage New Brunswickers was slapped upside the head by a judge on Wednesday for refusing to engage New Brunswickers.
Obviously, there is a lesson here, but if Wednesday is an indication, it will be lost on the Liberals. Shortly before they were chastised for limiting public discussion on early French immersion, they made a move in the legislature to stifle debate on 19 bills that are waiting to be considered, Sunday hunting included.
Sooner or later, the government will either understand its opinion isn't the only one that counts, or it will be bounced from office by those pesky voters that keep making it hard for the Liberals to do what they please.
In a decision issued in Saint John, Justice Hugh McLellan on Wednesday called the government's plan to scrap early French immersion "unfair and unreasonable" and ordered that future decisions not be made until citizens and organized groups have an opportunity to be heard.
Click here to see full article and comments on the web

Sackville council asks premier to save immersion
Published Thursday June 12th, 2008, Times and Transcript
Wallie Sears
Council calls on premier to halt changes until long-term economic impact can be assessed
SACKVILLE - Proposed changes to French second language instruction in the province are seen here as a further hindrance to economic development and in one of its first moves, the recently elected town council has called on Premier Shawn Graham to put a halt on implementing the procedures until its impact on long-term economic interests of the town can be assessed and an appropriate mitigation strategy adopted.
The motion notes that the province will be left without a system of second language instruction comparable to other provinces and the changes will not affect the nearby town of Amherst, which operates an early French immersion program.
The council motion goes on to stress that Sackville now competes on a global, national and regional basis when recruiting professionals, academics and businesses that can locate anywhere and that Sackville's ability to recruit people who value second language instruction for their children will be seriously compromised by the proposed changes to the province's education system.
Click here to see full article and comments on the web

Immersion changes unfair, judge rules
Published Thursday June 12th, 2008, Times and Transcript
Education minister pledges more consultation, says changes could still be in place for September
Mary Moszynski, Times & Transcript Staff
FREDERICTON - Education Minister Kelly Lamrock will consult New Brunswickers over the summer regarding changes to French immersion after a judge ruled government didn't allow enough time for debate on its decision to scrap early immersion.
But Lamrock was adamant he wants to hear alternative suggestions to cancelling what's considered by many as the Cadillac program for teaching French, saying government isn't going to abandon its goals of improving bilingualism rates and addressing the issue of streaming.
"If the next six weeks turns into a test of 'can we hammer government so hard that they'll simply forget they ever wanted questions to answer, they'll turn their backs on those kids.' That isn't likely to happen," he told reporters. "I, and my colleagues, have a high threshold for abuse.
Click here to see full article and comments on the web

N.B. holds more talks on early French immersion after losing court case
Published Wednesday June 11th, 2008

FREDERICTON - Plans to scrap early French immersion in New Brunswick's schools were put on hold for at least the next couple of months on Wednesday after parents fighting the government decision scored a victory in court.
Education Minister Kelly Lamrock says in the meantime, he will set up a website and consult with those affected until July 25 before announcing his intentions for the program on Aug. 5.
The government had planned to scrap the program starting in September, but that was thrown into doubt when Justice Hugh McLellan of the New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench ruled Lamrock didn't allow enough time for debate on the issue.
"Thus the decision of the minister was unfair and unreasonable," McLellan wrote.
The judgment quashed Lamrock's decision in March to scrap the program and sent the matter back to the government for further review.
Click here to see full article and comments on the web

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

N.B. early French immersion cuts 'unfair and unreasonable': judge

Click here to link to CBC report

Education minister says he'll announce program's fate in August

The New Brunswick government's decision to scrap early French immersion programs was quashed for at least a few months by a provincial court judge Wednesday.

Justice Hugh McLellan, of the Court of the Queen's Bench in Saint John, ruled there should be a judicial review into the cancellation of the early French immersion program, which was offered to students entering Grade 1.

In his seven-page decision, McLellan wrote that the decision to cut the French education program was "unfair and unreasonable."

"The application for judicial review is allowed. The minister's decision to phase out early French immersion is removed into the court and quashed."

Breach of contract alleged

The group had called on the court to delay the program's cancellation. The court challenge dealt with two specific children who are currently enrolled in kindergarten and registered to start early French immersion in the fall, but the case will affect the entire province.
McLellan said that parents who had enrolled their children in the program for the fall "had a reasonable and legitimate expectation that program would not be cut without them having a real opportunity to be heard by the minister."
Lamrock said he would set up a website and consult with those affected by the decision. The consultations are set to continue until July 25, with the announcement on whether the program will go ahead in September to be announced on August 5.

He said the six-week consultation period will allow the government "to hear if there are other ideas from New Brunswickers as to how we can meet our goals. For example, making sure we have a higher rate of participation in immersion programs, making sure we have more bilingual graduates, not fewer, making sure we have more equality and equality of access to bilingual access. These are important questions."

He said he hoped there would be "good conversation" over the next few weeks and that he would keep an open mind.

He said a decision in early August would still leave time to implement his proposals from March for the start of the school year. He said whether another plan could be implemented on this timeline would depend on the details of the alternate plan.

Bloggers' notes: Minister Lamrock's comments in the media are somewhat confusing in light of Justice McLellan's decision. "Quashed" means that Minister Lamrock's plan is terminated and that EFI is reinstated. It means that he now has to re-hire the immersion teachers, not sell the EFI books, put EFI information back on the web, offer information sessions on EFI for next year ... If he does not do this, then we will never know that his consultation period is genuine and he is potentially in contempt of court.