Saturday, May 17, 2008

Letters to the editor

Education decision takes lustre off N.B. -- Published Saturday May 17th, 2008

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and associations, various language learning experts, concerned citizens and teachers (before their freedom of speech was revoked) over the cancellation of the French immersion program in English language schools.

We moved to Moncton nine years ago from California, via Vancouver and brought with us over 20 years of postsecondary education from U.S.A., 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.

Without 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 trilingual while extremely well educated in every other respect.

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).

We were 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.

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


Will EFI students be orphaned?

A central tenet of Minister Lamrock's embattled plan for French language instruction in our province is that children currently in the early French immersion program will be "grandfathered." Recent events suggest that it will be more like "orphaned."

Children in Grade 1 should expect to have 11 more years of their program; yet District 2's website has expunged any mention of the program.

As a hint of worse to come, District 18 has removed all remedial help for EFI students, and similar programs are being cut in District 8.

Studies over the past decade have argued that the proper way of reducing streaming out of EFI is to provide it with better support, as is done today in Nova Scotia.

However, when Lamrock apportioned funds from the joint commission on classroom composition last year, more than $1 million were provided for special help in the core program, and only $4,000 for EFI students. No wonder parents of struggling students are encouraged to migrate to the core program.

It seems that if Lamrock is allowed to continue down this uncharted path, he will do even more to ensure that EFI becomes the "elitist" program he has criticized.



Letters to the editor Published Saturday May 17th, 2008, The Daily Gleaner

Immersion children may not get proper resources

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 EFI 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 EFI children needing extra help has been cancelled. The District 2 website now has absolutely no mention of EFI even existing.

Where are parents of students in EFI, roughly half of all students in District 2, to turn now for information on their children's education?

Parents of young children already in EFI 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 EFI students, leaving the new revamped English program to look like the comparative success that the minister is hoping for.

Would politicians really stoop this low? For the sake of my children and their classmates, I sincerely hope not.

Joanne Masson, Saint John, N.B.

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