Saturday, April 12, 2008

It continues to stay hot out there

Here are a couple of letters you might find interesting.

Dismissing probe by ombudsman unusual

There seems no limit to which the provincial government will go to proceed with the abolition of early French immersion, despite strong and growing public opposition to it.

It is correct, as Minister Lamrock notes, that decisions of the ombudsman are not binding. But to have the executive arm of government willfully dismiss an investigation of the ombudsman, an officer of the Legislature, before it even starts is, to put it mildly, highly unusual, potentially damaging to the office of Ombudsman and a poor reflection on the reputation of the government itself.

One can imagine the reaction of the government to a public statement by a deputy minister, whose activities more usually attract the attention of that office, that he or she will ignore what the ombudsman may look into on behalf of an aggrieved member of the public simply because it is not binding.


Misleading statements in French immersion issue

I wish to point out two misleading statements Premier Shawn Graham has made regarding recent changes to the education system in New Brunswick. During the budget speech, Graham stated: "We've been accused of taking away choice. However, the status quo offers no early immersion opportunities for 60 per cent of New Brunswick students - particularly in rural communities. Where is the choice in that? Going forward, every single New Brunswick child will have access to eight years of quality bilingual education."

This is a very misleading statement, given policy 309 (French Second Language Programs) states: "A school district shall implement a French Immersion program (beginning in Grade 1 or Grade 6 or both) if there is sufficient interest such that Immersion classes are of comparable size to other classes in the community at that level of instruction."

According to Policy 309, any school could have early immersion, if enough parents sign up their children. The schools that don't have immersion merely reflect the wishes of parents.

Graham also stated: "I'm going to say it again: going forward, every single New Brunswick child will have access to eight years of quality bilingual education." This is another misleading statement. There is no guarantee any kid will enroll in immersion after Grade 5. Those who don't - the big majority I would guess - will be in something called "Post Intensive French." I don't know what this is, but I suspect it is core French or something very much like it by other name.

Mr. Premier, your statements regarding elimination of early French immersion are misleading and incorrect.

Scott LeBlanc

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