Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Minister's Contact Information

Hon. Kelly Lamrock
Minister of Education
Place 2000
P. O. Box 6000
Fredericton, NB
E3B 5H1

There is more information on groups and events on NB: The anti-education province


Stacey Merrigan said...

Here is what School District 2 has to say about Early Immersion programs on their website in their "Frequently Asked Questions" section.

"Frequently Asked Questions

Is French Immersion for my child?

From the onset of school entry, parents make decisions which will affect their child's future. When choosing a Fench Second Language program, parents must decide just how important the learning of French is to the future of their child and how competent in the French language they want their child to become. The language of instruction bears little, if any, relation to academic performance, particulary in an early immersion proram. Research has consistently demonstrated that the student who excels in a regular English program will probably excel in a immersion program; the student who would have difficulties in an English program will likely experience those same difficulties in immersion.

There is no help available in French at home. Won't this pose a problem?

Teachers are aware that most children come from unilingual homes, so reports to the home are in English. In the case of homework, the school expects the child to attempt to complete it. But, if problems occur, it is preferable for your child to seek further help at school.

Will my child's English skills suffer because of immersion?

This question has been studied extensively during the past 25 years, both in Canada and abroad. The conclusion is that, far from hindering English development, knowledge of another language is actually beneficial in improving capabilities in the first langauge, and increases the ability to learn a third and fourth language.

There may be certain lags in English Language Arts when a child enrols in an early French immersion program. However, after the introduction of English Language Arts instruction, children quickly catch up to their peers. Students have shown consistently over the years that, by the end of grade 6, children in immersion programs perform as well as or better than their peers in the regular program.

It must not be forgotten that the child is (usually) of English-speaking background, most often living in an English-speaking area. Cultural identity and first language ability is not adversely affected by an immersion program.

If our children are having academic or other problems in French immersion, should we transfer them to the English program?

Research and experience have shown that children with problems can benefit from a French immersion program. They learn their basic sills at their individual rate, and still acquire competence in French. There are very few instances where transferring a child out of immersion benefits the child.

Should I read to my child in English at home?

Yes: it is very important for parents to read to children on a regular basis. Demonstrating a love of reading and modelling positive reading behaviours will encourage your child to develop a love of reading.

If my child is in the Early French immersion Program will he/she learn the same things as students in the English classes?

Yes, the curriculum must follow the guidelines of the Department of Education and parallel the curriculum in the English non-immersion classes. Materials in French cover the same basic program as in English; students work toward the same academic goals regardless of the language of instruction.

How much French is needed?

In New Brunswick, an English-speaking student must take French until the end of grade 10 to meet graduation requirements. The objective is to continue to expand and strengthen the student's language proficiency until the end of high school; thus additional courses are required. Students must include some French studies each year in grades 11 and 12 to be considered a French Immersion student and fulfill the certificate requirements as outlined in policy 309.

What should I think if my child is having difficulty in the program?

First of all, talk to your child's teacher. By discussing issues with the classroom teacher, you can often resolve problems. If there is no resoluton to the problem, you may ask the teacher to contact the Resource and Methods teacher of your child's school. The Resource and Methods teacher may be able to offer suggestions for adjustments in the classroom in order to better meet your child's needs and ideas to help you further assist your child.

What can I do to help my child with homework?

Many parents either have a limited background in French or do not speak the language. If this is the case, please don't feel alarmed. By far, the most important factor in your child's progress is the encouragement and positive support you are able to give your child. You should make homework a top priority at home.

How can I help my child in French, Mathematics, English, sciences and social studies?

Your child's teacher will have many strategies and suggestions to help you assist your child in the various subject areas."

In your letters to the Minister, consider asking him why he has gone against the advice of an entire school district and eliminated this program instead of improving the others.

Douglas Campbell said...

The Honourable Shawn Graham
Premier of New Brunswick

Dear Premier Graham;
I am disgusted and disillusioned with the recent changes to French language education in New Brunswick.
The Ministry of Education paid for several substantive reports, including those of Scraba and Rehorick, presenting insightful analyses and policy suggestions, which were largely ignored.

The Ministry then made major, long term and far reaching policy changes justified by the inaccurate,statistically ridiculous and biased report from Croll & Lee (http:\\hamlit2008.googlepages.com). Croll and Lee were highly selective in their presentation of perception surveys, miscalculated enrollment trends and used arbitrary and unhelpful definitions of programme success and failure.

The elimination of early french immersion represents the loss of the only functional programme in the English school system.
The core programme faces serious difficulties, largely because of problems coping with learning disabilities.

Redistributing students from early french immersion will not, contrary to claims, solve core classroom composition problems, because there are not enough students in early french immersion to significantly dilute the problems in the core programme.

So let us fix the flawed programme, rather than cancel the successful programme.

As a parent, an educator, a biotechnology business owner and a voting citizen, I am profoundly concerned with this step away from educational quality. Further lowering standards will not lead to self sufficiency.

Douglas A. Campbell

Geoff Martin said...

Dear Mr. Lamrock and Mr. Graham:

I am writing this brief note to tell you that I am opposed to your government's decision to end Early French Immersion in this province. Much has been said and will continue to be said about the weakness of the Croll-Lee report, about the risk you are running in reviving ethnic conflict, of the importance of starting a second language as early as possible, of the value of the EFI education to many who have taken it, and so on. I want to introduce another element in this. As you know, 95% of young people in New Brunswick are educated in our public education system. This is a major achievement in Canada, for in many provinces there are sizable private and religious systems in parallel.

My concern is that with this decision you will undermine the support of a particular segment of the population for the public education system in this province. The EFI programme is a marquee offering for parents who want their kids to learn French and have a reasonable accent as they use the language. The weakness of the EFI programme in small high schools in particular (like here in Tantramar) should not be used to justify scrapping the programme. My kids are 14 and 17 and without EFI, I don't think their public school experience would have been very positive. EFI was the highlight. I know that the system does a lot for students in difficulty, through Special Education Plans, and by offering TAs and so on, but what, besides EFI, does it do for students who can handle learning the second language as well as perform strongly in their mother tongue? Not enough, I think. I am totally convinced based on evidence that your plan to start intensive French in grade 5 won't work but will cause significant social tension.

It's too bad that your government seems to have bought into the idea that EFI is elitist. How will your government achieve its goals, like Self-Sufficiency, while at the same time you throw your lot in with people who equate "achievement" with "elitism?" I have a first cousin in Texas who proudly touts that state's voucher system--Parents enroll their children in whatever school they like, and the state pays a grant to that school, private, public or cooperative, for each student enrolled. I disagree with that system in principle because I believe there should be choice and
excellence in the public system. I can't help but think that as you destroy the EFI programme (taking away a valid choice and the opportunity to achieve excellence), we will see a greater number of New Brunswickers call for a change so that public support can go to whichever school parents enroll their children in.

Yours truly,
Geoff Martin