From Thursday's Globe and Mail
May 15, 2008 at 4:41 AM EDT
A group of New Brunswick parents is asking a judge to intervene in the provincial government's controversial decision to eliminate early French immersion.
Opponents filed an application in the Court of Queen's Bench yesterday seeking judicial review of the move, saying they weren't sufficiently consulted.
"We realized that we only had one option, that the government wasn't interested in a thorough and thoughtful discussion or debate on what should be done with French second-language education in the province," said Tim Jackson, a parent organizer who had registered his son in French immersion for Grade 1 in September.
"If they're not going to give the citizens of the province that opportunity, then we'll demand it."
In the legal papers, lawyer Thomas Christie contends that the government's scrapping of early French immersion, which begins in Grade 1, violates parents' rights to "natural justice and procedural fairness" and infringes on their Charter rights to have their children educated in French.
A hearing is scheduled for June 4.
Education Minister Kelly Lamrock said the group's move was "not a complete surprise."
"These days, in controversial decisions, this is one of the tools of the arsenal of groups who are unhappy with government decisions. I respect their right to take that action."
The government's elimination of early French immersion - which defies conventional wisdom that the earlier children start learning a second language, the better - has attracted fierce opposition.
Parents held protest rallies at the legislature and the province's ombudsman launched an investigation and asked the province to delay the reforms by one year.
Slightly more than two weeks passed between a provincial commission's recommendation to axe early immersion and the government's announcement, which the parents argue was not enough time for residents of Canada's only bilingual province to make their views known.
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Thursday, May 15, 2008