Saturday, April 19, 2008

Great letters from April 18th

Immersion builds critical thinking--Times Transcript

The value of Early French Immersion cannot be judged solely on the liquid fluency of its graduates.
Early French Immersion is an introduction to much more than a code of language. It is a valuable early widening of a young mind, an opportunity to broaden a perspective on cultures and to realize how big, different and wonderful the world is. It early on demonstrates how perspectives may be viewed through other prisms.
Who can say that Early French Immersion doesn't broaden the mind, make it more tolerant, and begin a lasting ability to reflect, weigh and challenge, instead of merely judging?
Early French Immersion may be the beginning of critical thinking, of learning to challenge assumptions, yours, theirs, his, hers. What better values are there for young minds to sop up? Are these reasons why Early French Immersion students go on to excel in their native language in school?
Think about it. Immersion presents exposure to critical thinking years before it's taught in history and literature. An early escape from rigid orthodoxy. We shouldn't be dropping it.
We should be expanding it, and providing support so all children can early learn these valuable things.

Graham Watt, Sackville

Lamrock, streaming and literacy--Daily Gleaner

Education Minister Kelly Lamrock repeatedly claims that the streaming of special-needs students from the early French immersion (EFI) program into the core program has a negative impact on classroom environments and, ultimately, upon assessment scores.
What is the evidence of streaming? It has been calculated that the total effect of streaming is to have five special-needs students per class in the core program instead of four per class in a combined program if EFI was eliminated.
Clearly this is not the dramatic effect that we have been led to believe.
What is the effect on assessment scores? I would direct Mr. Lamrock to review the 2006-07 literacy assessment scores for grades 2 and 4 that were included in the Croll & Lee report.
The mean scores for literacy for Grade 2: Core - 69.29, EFI - 68.23. The mean scores for literacy for Grade 4: Core - 66.61, EFI - 68.63.
Statisticians tell me that there is no meaningful difference in literacy scores between both programs for grades 2 and 4. These scores don't support the notion of a core program that is significantly disadvantaged and an EFI program that is privileged and elite.
Nor do they support the statement that many students in the core program aren't getting the attention they deserve and, consequently, are "falling through the cracks."
It's important to note that most special-needs students are in the core program by virtue of its higher overall student enrollment.
There is an additional concentration due to streaming, as noted above. However, it is also important to note that nearly all of the literacy and resource support is provided for students in the core program, and it appears to be paying off.
I hope readers will now see this for the propaganda that it represents. It should also be viewed as an insult by the literacy support teachers and specialists whose devotion is clearly paying dividends.

Andre Levesque, St. Stephen, N.B.

Bring back early immersion--Daily Gleaner

It is hard to take seriously a government which claims that our French language program can only be strengthened by cutting out the parts which most clearly work.
One must sympathize with the parents of small children knowing that they are facing a lengthy period of chaos in French language instruction. It will be years before the new program is fully introduced and more before it is so discredited that the politicians are forced to admit their mistakes.
It is not only the children who will suffer. The early French immersion option is an important part of the quality of life which attracts young professionals to New Brunswick. It has been said that "consistency is the resort of small minds." Please, Mr. Premier, show us the flexibility and breadth of vision we expected when we elected you.

Ernie and Irene Forbes, Fredericton

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