Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Letters in the Telegraph Journal April 8th, 2008

Immersion changes will affect all

The elimination of early immersion is perhaps the most dramatic of proposed changes to education, but make no mistake: the minister's plan would affect all children in public schools in this province, not just those denied early immersion.

Six months from now, all students in Grade 4 core French, regardless of their circumstances, would be compelled to take Intensive French for half the year in Grade 5. Afterward, students would make the one and only choice that would be offered to them throughout their whole K-12 experience: do they want to go into late immersion, or continue with the new post-Intensive French program? This decision would be binding, unlike now.

The minister has taken to characterizing his opponents as elitist. Even if he were correct - and he is not, as the streaming he cites is the result of underfunding, not immersion - children denied early immersion would not be the only ones affected. The ones in early immersion would not be "safe-" they would stumble through a diminished and dying program. Students with challenges would be without resources. Since intensive French focuses on language use, not content, students would only cover half the curriculum usually covered in Grade 5. When would they catch up?

All children would be affected by this rushed, cobbled-together plan. They would all bear the brunt of a system-wide upheaval. And so all of us must call on Premier Graham to listen to the Ombudsman and postpone the Minister's plan for at least a year.

Saint John

Don't add religion to EFI discussion

It's Christian and right - if it works for a few, share it with the many.-" Kelly Lamrock quote (Canadian Press). I'll give Minister Lamrock the benefit of the doubt that he means well by the cliché. But, by adding a moral and religious dimension to what is essentially a policy decision about early French immersion, Minister Lamrock has crossed into dangerous political territory and trashed his credibility.

If you disagree with Minister Lamrock, the implication is that you are un-Christian and wrong. For non-religious people and people of other faiths, this is offensive and alienating. Didn't we just learn from the 2006 Census that New Brunswick still is one of least ethnoculturally diverse societies in all of Canada? As New Brunswickers, are we not supposed to be rallying our efforts towards self-sufficiency, which is dependent on the recruitment and retention of immigrants and Canadians from other provinces?

Elimination of EFI is pedagogically regressive and culturally baffling for Canada's only officially bilingual province - and, unfortunately, it provides yet another reason to avoid settling here in the 21st century.


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