Monday, May 19, 2008

Letters May 19th, 2008

Reasons not to stay in New Brunswick

In order not to be included in the "silent majority," we would like to add our voices to the overwhelming outcry from parents, parent groups and associations, various language learning experts, concerned citizens and teachers (before their freedom of speech was revoked) over the cancellation of the French immersion program in English language schools.

Our move to New Brunswick and our decision to stay was considered unusual.

We moved to Moncton nine years ago from California, via Vancouver, and brought with us over 20 years of post-secondary education from the U.S., U.K. and British Columbia.

One of the main reasons for our decision to stay in Moncton was the excellent school system and possibility to live in a very inclusive multicultural city. The prerequisite to get to know the other cultures and people is to know their language and we, as adults, have tried and are still trying to improve our French language skills.

However, for adults with various other duties, this is not an easy undertaking and we realize that we will never be completely fluent and will never be able to speak without a very strong accent.

Without any hesitation, we enrolled our son in the excellent French immersion program and, thanks to excellent teachers and the present school system, he is now fluently and without any accent tri-lingual, while still extremely well-educated in every other respect.

Language proficiency has allowed him to have friends from both anglophone and francophone communities, allowed him to be enrolled in speed-skating and karate programs that are given in French, and in the future will open many doors for him in Canada and elsewhere.

We were looking forward to sending our younger son to the same school and the same system. Unfortunately, he will not be given the same opportunity (at least not in New Brunswick).

As parents and as New Brunswickers by choice, we were very proud of the school system and were boasting about the excellent opportunities that children here have.

I wonder what we will boast about in the future and what will be the force that will draw us and many other highly educated people to New Brunswick.

Surely not the school system changes proposed by the current provincial government.

And neither will the other changes and propositions that are currently underway.

When the whole world is open to educated people, they will not chose to live in a place that has uranium mines, decaying infrastructures, increasing pollution and, probably most importantly, the growing division between people based on their mother tongue.

I hope it is still not too late to get back to senses, reverse these highly unfortunate decisions and bring out the good in this wonderful province and allow us all to be once again proud to live here.

Miroslava and Adrian Culf, Moncton

Is immersion support gone?

To The Editor:

When Education Minister Kelly Lamrock announced his decision to terminate Early French Immersion programs in New Brunswick schools, he stated that all children currently in the program would be able to remain there and that he did not want to disrupt children's education.

Since that time, some disturbing information has surfaced. We have heard that literacy support for Early French Immersion students in District 8 has been changed (read terminated); children needing the help will no longer be taken out of the classroom to work with support teachers. Further, we have heard that a summer program in District 18 for Early French Immersion children needing extra help has been cancelled. The District 2 website now has absolutely no mention of Early French Immersion even existing.

Where are parents of students in Early French Immersion, roughly half of all students in District 2, to turn now for information on their children's education? Parents of young children already in Early French Immersion should be extremely worried about what will happen in the coming years.

Will my grandfathered children become second class citizens within their own schools? Will districts invest in materials for my children with the knowledge that their usefulness will be short-lived? There are strong indications that the education they receive in the early years will suffer as a result of the government's changes. We seem to be going from a poorly supported program to one in which there is absolutely no support provided.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the minister and the Department of Education are turning their backs on the children already in this program. It makes us wonder about the minister's commitment to looking out for all children. A cynical person might speculate that cutting all support for this program will bring standardized test scores down among immersion students, leaving the new revamped English program to look like the comparative success. Would politicians really stoop so low? For the sake of my children and their classmates, I sincerely hope not.

Joanne Masson, Saint John

Choice is vital in school system

Although there have been some positive changes made by this government lately to the school system, such as the increase focus on physical education, music and art, I fail to see how that is addressing the problem with the literacy math and science performance of our children. Why couldn't these changes be done without the abolishment of the only proven program to produce an advanced level of French proficiency, early French immersion?

I try very hard to understand how four special needs children in a class instead of five is going to make such an impact that suddenly the teachers are going to be able to teach more effectively. It just doesn't make sense to me. Why doesn't it seem to be an issue with other provinces?

I recently received a statement from a MLA and it said "If we want to have 70 per cent of our children to have capacity in French, we need to start teaching French to 100 per cent of kids not 30 per cent." What about parents who want more for their children than just capacity in French?

What about the parents who feel that their children are having a difficult enough time just grasping the English language and truly don't think learning a second language is going to be beneficial for their child?

If there is one thing we cannot take a universal approach to it is how we educate children. Choice is important and it should be made by parents.


Parents losing rights in education

The school system in New Brunswick is becoming a dictatorship. Parents are losing their rights and freedoms over their children's education process.

This can be seen in points stated in my previous letter: banning the selling of chocolate for fundraising, the drastic actions taken with regards to food allergies and the forced changes in the French curriculum.

I thought Canada was a democracy, I guess I was wrong.


No comments: