Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Great Letters May 13th

Parents misled by province on immersion
Daily Gleaner

I recently attended a meeting in Fredericton regarding the changes to French second language instruction in our province.

After speaking with a few of the couple hundred people in attendance, it was clear I was not the only one leaving with a sick feeling in my stomach due to the realization we have been so misled by this government.

If we were to believe the minister of education, one would think our core English classrooms in grades 1-5 are filled with kids who are unable to read, cannot perform basic addition and think the Earth is flat. Yet I now know that core students are performing at rates equal to early immersion students on literacy assessments in grades 2 and 4.

I also now know that the reason core French scores are so much lower than immersion scores in later years is due to the streaming impact late immersion has on the core program, yet late immersion is the very program the government is keeping in our system.

I found out that the intensive French program has never been attempted without some prior classroom exposure to French, and our own pilot program in New Brunswick has yet to produce any graduates. Yet our government is basing our entire FSL programming provincewide on such an untested model.

I learned that 80 per cent of all students in New Brunswick either attend or live close to a school that offers early immersion. This despite the fact the government has been trying to tell us that only 20-40 per cent can access the program.

This is one New Brunswicker who does not take kindly to being duped. To the group that held the meeting, I thank you for volunteering your time and efforts in keeping this government accountable.

To Premier Shawn Graham, don't think for a second this will be forgotten in a mere two years.

Adam McDonald, Fredericton

Letters NBers expect proper consultation
Published Tuesday May 13th, 2008 Telegraph-Journal

Hassan Arif's commentary in Wednesday's Telegraph-Journal seeks to explain away the growing opposition to the provincial Liberal government with a simple cliché - "that is the nature of governing-" and the Liberals appear to take this to their comfort.

Minister Lamrock, in particular, seems to cling to the belief that because some wise decisions are unpopular, the unpopularity of his decision on early French immersion guarantees that it is wise.

Moreover, Mr. Arif adds, "regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with the decision, few can doubt Education Minister Kelly Lamrock's commitment to improving New Brunswick's education system."

Mr. Arif would do well to remember another cliché, the one that tells us which destination has a road paved with good intentions. In fact, New Brunswickers hold their governments to a high standard. They expect proper consultation, not a process that was biased against francophone teachers in the English system; they expect the province's many experts on language learning to be consulted, not vilified for disagreeing with the Minister; and, above all else, they expect ministers to have the humility to back away from the recommendations of a report when it is as universally discredited as the Croll and Lee document rather than commission a new report mid-stream to double-down on an already bad gamble.

Sometimes, Mr. Arif, it's more simple: sometimes governments are unpopular because they are doing the wrong thing.

LYNN BLACK , Fredericton

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