Bilingualism is what makes us Canadian
Published Saturday April 19th, 2008 --The Daily Gleaner
Appeared on page B9
Pierre Elliott Trudeau had a dream for Canada: one nation, two languages and many cultures.
I, like many Canadians, hold dear the values of multiculturalism and bilingualism. In fact, I believe these values are what set Canada apart from other western liberal democracies. They are what make Canada a truly great nation. I had the opportunity to enter the immersion program in elementary school. When I graduated from high school, I was fluent in French.
Nothing has been a more integral and important part of my education. Learning a second language exposed me to new possibilities that have afforded me a level of personal, educational and social development not otherwise possible.
When I travel to any part of the world where French in spoken, I am proud to be able to express myself with ease. French is not just a language I speak; it is part of my identity as a Canadian.
It is too late for me to de deprived of this opportunity. However, I fear for the generation of New Brunswick children who follow mine; they may be robbed of this wonderful opportunity. But that is not all. The immersion program produced generations of New Brunswickers who would fulfill Trudeau's vision of a bilingual society. It produced the kind of people who would go to Quebec during a referendum to show Quebecers they spoke the language, that they cared and wanted Quebec to stay.
I believe the decision to cut French immersion in New Brunswick is contradictory to Trudeau's dream, to the vision of a bilingual society and to fundamental Canadian values.
Bilingualism may be an elusive goal. But that does not mean we should give up, as Education Minister Kelly Lamrock would have us do. No, we must keep working towards these goals; it is our duty as Canadians. If Trudeau were alive today, he would be, as I am, terribly disappointed with this retrograde decision.
Tom Cheney, Fredericton
Immersion report's authors misinterpreted the facts
In a recent letter, Mr. Harrison, noting that experts in statistics have called the recent Croll and Lee report on French immersion "laughable," reasonably wonders, "what, specifically, are the problems .... Where are the errors in the arithmetic?"
As an example, let's look at the report's fundamental arguments based on attrition, or drop-out, rates in the two immersion programs. The report's authors claim that late immersion is better because far fewer people drop out from it. The following example shows the flaw in their reasoning. Imagine a town hockey club which kids join at Grade 1, but usually don't in later years. Its board of directors note that, in 2008, there are 200 in Grade 1, 100 in Grade 2 and 50 in Grade 3. They conclude the club has a serious problem with attrition - every year half the kids are leaving, and so they're after the head coach's job.
When confronted at the annual meeting, the poor coach calmly stands up and says: "But you didn't look at how many kids entered each year. Two years ago I had 55 kids enter, last year 110 entered and this year 201. I'm not losing very many kids.In fact, the numbers show that our club is growing in popularity." He keeps his job.
Croll and Lee wrongly compare early French immersion with late French immersion, using the board's' method. Using the coach's method, the report's criticism of early French immersion disappears. So while Mr. Harrison is right that Lamrock's researchers often add correctly, they argue from the addition incorrectly.
There is one last point to be made. Because the Liberal educational changes are wholly experimental, the burden of proof lies with Education Minister Kelly Lamrock to show that they will succeed, not with his critics to show that it will not.
I, for one, think we shouldn't fire the coach.
Bruce Robertson, Sackville, N.B
Immersion decision smacks of bullying
Published Saturday April 19th, 2008
Appeared on page A10
Education Minister Lamrock has connected the opposing reaction to the submersion of the early French immersion program to the various emotional stages of the grieving process. He believes that eventually those opposed will enter the final stage of "acceptance of the loss."
Such an attitude clearly indicates that he is unaware he abused the trust placed in his credentials as minister of education when he amputated something that was alive and well before he entered the Department of Education. Following this radical surgery, he then went about unhooking any hope of maintaining a life support system for the early French immersion program. Not only are these actions comparable to a case of malpractice, they also fall within the parameters of the worst case scenario of bullying in the workplace, which is against the law in some provinces.
The Premier and the minister have also misdiagnosed the symptoms of those injured by such malpractice. For the trauma being felt is not only connected to the loss of trust in those they elected to serve the best interests of the province but to the cloud of suspicion the elected members have injected into any forthcoming agenda connected to the plans for "self-sufficiency."
BETTY RYAN, Fredericton
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Bilingualism is what makes us Canadian