Monday, April 14, 2008

Letters | Why not be passionate about education?

Published Monday April 14th, 2008 Telegraph-Journal
Appeared on page A4

I am equally offended by Shawn Graham's remarks that I am "too emotional" and Kelly Lamrock's comment that I am "elitist." The government has lowered themselves to name calling and bullying all citizens who disagree with their disgraceful decision to eliminate the early French immersion program. They show a grave lack of respect for the people of New Brunswick, not to mention a shocking disregard for our provincial ombudsman.

I have every right to be passionate about my children's education. Mr. Graham underestimates the role of parents when he assumes they could ever be too emotional about their children's well-being. As citizens of this province we have the right to both official languages.

Destroying the only program designed to achieve bilingual results is obliterating the very core of what it means to be a New Brunswicker.

In exchange for extinguishing early French immersion the government has promised additional art and music. Proper instruction of art and music requires specialized skills and expertise. Does our education system suddenly have an abundance of educators with these qualifications? Emphasis on art and music would be beneficial to children, provided it is taught with experience and appreciation so they actually learn the concepts.

Art has the ability to teach children how to learn to think creatively and make intelligent decisions based on exploration, deduction and fact. Unfortunately, these are skills our government does not possess.


Home and school voice not unanimous

There has been a lot of controversy the past few weeks regarding the government's decision to eliminate the early French immersion program. I disagree with this decision and am concerned that the government is allowed to take away our rights of choice. Whether a parent chooses to enroll their children in EFI or in an English program we should all be concerned that the government feels it is OK to do what it wants with little or no consultation with the public.

To add insult to injury the president of the New Brunswick Home & School Association, Cynthia Richards, has taken it upon herself to be a spokesperson for the membership of the various Home and School Associations across the province. I have been a member of the home and school association at a school in Dieppe since 2001 and I was in no way asked if I supported Kelly Lamrock's decision to eliminate EFI.

I just do not understand how anyone can support this. New Brunswick is the only bilingual province in the country and yet we are now the only province that no longer provides early French immersion as an option to parents. I do not doubt that there is a problem with our present system but the answer is not to eliminate EFI. Perhaps the curriculum should be dissected and then improved.

The people who are representing me (both in the government and in the H&S) are not listening!


Ombudsman acting within his role

I was more than a little puzzled by the editorial of April 5 that criticized the role of the ombudsman in respect to the decision to investigate the government's new French immersion policy. I have not been able to tell if the editorial was based on ignorance or malicious intent. Having just taught a course at UNBSJ on the ombudsman idea in Canada, and with a book on the several provincial ombudsman offices in the hands of a publisher, I can say with confidence that the editorial lacked a basic understanding of the ombudsman's role. The government's decision is clearly of an administrative nature - the implementation of public education under the Education Act. Since the ombudsman's role is to investigate allegations of administrative wrong-doings, the matter is obviously within the ombudsman's ambit of responsibility.

This does not prejudge the eventual findings of the ombudsman's investigation, let alone the final results. Rather, in a democracy, the public has the right to express grievances and the ombudsman has a responsibility to investigate.

A closer reading of the editorial, however, suggests that there was a mean intent behind the words - a bitter personal attack on the integrity of the current Ombudsman, Mr. Richard. By only using selectively a portion of Mr. Richard's announcement to investigate, the editorial distortingly suggested that the investigation was a personal vendetta of Mr. Richard's. In fact, a full reading of the announcement clearly indicates that the investigation was premised on the 200-odd complaints that he had received from New Brunswickers.

Saint John

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