Thursday, May 15, 2008

The letters and comments get better all the time


Lack of respect for bilingualism

It isn't that my daughter will not have the same opportunity that I had to reap the wonderful benefits of early French immersion that makes me so angry with Kelly Lamrock's misguided educational reforms.

It isn't that the proposed changes are putting up barriers to New Brunswickers living outside the province who would like to return home but who are now reconsidering because they want their children to learn French at an early age.

It isn't that the "one-size-fits-all" approach to education that Lamrock is proposing is inappropriate, given children's wide range of needs and abilities. It isn't that few, if not none, of the students graduating in Lamrock's new plan will have enough proficiency in French to obtain jobs requiring bilingualism.

It isn't that Lamrock is implementing all of the recommendations of a commissioned report that has been totally discredited. It isn't even that the process Lamrock has used to steam-roll out these reforms has been completely lacking in any form of meaningful consultation with parents, teachers or the public.

No, what really riles me about Lamrock's plan is what it says about this government's views on the French language and culture in this province.

This plan says that the government does not feel it is at all important for anglophone children to learn French, that this province should be bilingual in numbers only.

And that not only angers me, it breaks my heart.

CLEA P. WARD, Fredericton

Who provided erroneous numbers?

In early April, as part of the campaign to justify the Croll and Lee report and its recommendation that New Brunswick scrap the early French immersion program, the Premier rose in the Legislative Assembly and announced that 60 per cent of New Brunswick children do not have access to early immersion.

Monday's op-ed piece, The Other Side on Education, shows that this is demonstrably false: 57 per cent attend schools with early immersion and another 20 per cent could access EFI by switching nearby schools.

One can only assume that the Premier did not intend to mislead the province, that he was provided erroneous numbers, either by the province's minister of education or the Department of Education's civil servants, blinded in their zeal for Croll and Lee's recommendations.

In any other ministry, though, would not the repercussions for such a mistake foisted on the Premier be swift and harsh? Or can we expect that the Premier will, in order to see his ministers' programs through, happily repeat, say, tax revenues numbers miscalculated by 37 per cent or calculations on the impact of uranium mining misrepresented by a third?

JODY WAGSTAFF, Fredericton

Letters to the Times and Transcript

Don't forget EFI students

To The Editor:

The following letter was sent to Education Minister Kelly Lamrock:

As the parent of two children in early Early French Immersion I want to know what support will be available to my children as they carry on in this program.

Surely, all the money you are "saving" from cancelling the program will be used to ensure the children still in the program will receive new books, teaching assistance and so on so as not to discriminate against them.

I would hate to see the current Early French Immersion students fall into your category of children being segregated or forgotten, which would appear is what you are doing since all reference to Early French Immersion has been wiped clean from the District 2 website.

I would imagine I am not the only one concerned about this issue. I look forward to knowing that my children, as well as all other Early French Immersion children, who make up nearly half the population of our school, will be afforded equal opportunity for resources over the next 11 years.

I look forward to your prompt, specific reply. Please do not forward your generic e-mail about how wonderful your new plan is. I have already received that letter, which, by the way, did not answer one concern I had mentioned in the last letter I wrote.

Joanne Underhill, Moncton

The majority are immersion

To The Editor:

The minister of education talks about a small minority of students in Early French Immersion as though any school you walked into in the province would have a tiny number of EFI students in it.

When you look at enrollment on a region by region basis, though, you get a much different picture. In the City of Moncton, 57 per cent of this year's Grade 1 class were enrolled in Early Immersion. In the Town of Riverview, it was 54 per cent.

It does not make sense to me to eliminate a program that the majority of the parents in this city are choosing for their children.

Christina Taylor, Quispamsis

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