Monday, April 28, 2008

The Debate is Definitely Not Over--more letters

Letters Published Monday April 28th, 2008
The Daily Gleaner

Debate not over

It may seem that the debate over the elimination of early French immersion (EFI) is dying down, but it is not.

On March 14, the Minister of Education single-handedly removed choice in education from parents. As the changes made to French second language education have not been rescinded, the fight to restore it will continue.

Part of the changes made to FSL education - in particular the elimination of EFI - is that only those children presently in the EFI program are protected, or grandfathered in, and are able to continue in EFI until Grade 12.

Since EFI begins in Grade 1 in N.B., children presently in the school system in kindergarten are not protected.

In N.B., the school system is kindergarten to Grade 12.

By allowing the 2007-08 kindergarten children to be grandfathered in, you will give the Department of Education time to consult properly with experts in the fields of language and learning, to engage citizens in the decision-making process and to prepare effectively for the eventual changes made through proper consultation.

My question to Minister Lamrock and Premier Graham is: How can you not grandfather in the children in kindergarten when they are part of the school system?

Megan Doucette, Fredericton

Letters Published Monday April 28th, 2008, Times and Transcript
Questioning minister's data

To The Editor:

On April 19, Kelly Lamrock claimed that "in New Brunswick, there are around 300,000 adults who couldn't read well enough to learn a new skill if their job changed."

Hopefully, he is not one of those adults since he is likely to need to change his job in a few years.

Although Lamrock has a plan for terminating the Early French Immersion program to mix the immersion kids back into other classrooms so that English literacy test scores will rise (maybe), it's not clear exactly why Lamrock expects this misguided plan will improve our children's education.

And how is this plan supposed to help adults who may want to change jobs?

There are 616,100 people in New Brunswick of working age who could participate in the labour force (Statistics Canada, March 2008). Almost half of the adults in this province are "Lamrock illiterates"? Hard to believe.

Most of the people I've met in this province can read quite well. Some of them used to vote Liberal, but that's another problem.

Not to be forgotten: in New Brunswick today, there are some adults who would benefit from a literacy program and deserve one. Probably not 300,000, but it's not about numbers. Anyone in this group deserves our attention.

Lamrock does them no service by swelling their ranks to score political points and then mostly ignoring their real needs. It's not clear what Lamrock is able to count correctly.

It is clear why Lamrock counts: he has been handed the opportunity to make some decisions based on available evidence. But his poor use, or poor understanding, of evidence has led to some bad decisions, like the termination of Early French Immersion.

We can hope his literacy skills are up to his next task.

Stephen Law, Sackville

Changes too drastic for usPublished Monday April 28th, 2008
Miramichi Leader - Online Edition

I am a former resident of Chatham and think that your readers might be interested in the following letter I write to MLA John Foran, Minister of Public Safety.

Mr. Foran: I am writing to you to express my opposition to your government's decision to eliminate the Early French Immersion (EFI) program in New Brunswick. I believe delaying teaching our children French until Grade 5 is a mistake. I am not alone in this belief, for many parents and language education experts from across the country have also criticized this decision.

You have shown a strong commitment to improving the life of our children, in your policing career, your membership on the District 16 School Board, and on the "Youth at Risk" committee, among other accomplishments.

What if this is a mistake, as the experts say it is?

Surely we should not be rushing into something that is such a drastic change. Also, why is the government basing its decision on a report that has shown to be so poorly done and includes basic statistical errors? There is a certain irony in this, as it is supposed to facilitate improving the education system. Mr. Bernard Richard, the provincial Ombudsman, has suggested the decision be delayed a year, and I would suggest his advice be heeded.

No doubt there are many improvements that can be made to the current system. I would like to see EFI continue and I would like to see special needs children supported in the EFI program. The children currently in the Core French program could still have Intensive French offered to them in Grade 5, as the designers of the program originally intended. If this is not a resource issue, as the minister of education has claimed publicly several times, then why was this not considered? We also need to support children from disadvantaged backgrounds before they hit the school system.

Thank you for considering these options.

Geoff Martin

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