Tuesday, May 27, 2008

More commentaries in NB papers

Soprano supports early immersion
Provincial Journal
Published Tuesday May 27th, 2008

FREDERICTON - Parents should fight to save early French immersion in New Brunswick schools, says Juno winner and opera diva Measha Brueggergosman. The Fredericton native returned home for a live show Tuesday at Wilmot United church. Visited Park Street Elementary School on Friday. She went through French immersion at this school. "If you can add arts programs and know that's an effective way to teach children, it's a no-brainer that early immersion shouldn't be cut."

CBC reported her as saying. "It doesn't need to be cut, and the people who have the power are the voters, and they need to take that power back."


If New Brunswick had a Siberia, Lamrock would be sent there
Published Tuesday May 27th, 2008, Kings County Record, Outside the Bax, By Michael Baxter

Refreshing it was, reading about Bob Bernier's resignation a while back.
Leaving the presidency of the Kings East Liberals, and going against the party line over the cancellation of Early French Immersion, took both morals and guts. I don't know Bob, but would somebody please buy him a Schooner until I get back.

To be honest, I'm completely disgusted with how arrogant the current Liberal regime has become since grabbing the provincial reins.

It just burns me that $180,000 was dropped on the completely fictitious Croll/Lee report, when another EFI study the $30,000 Rehorick Report was commissioned two years earlier and its data never released. It wasn't disclosed because it didn't suit the agenda of our dodgy Education Minister, Kelly "The Fish" Lamrock.

Call me crazy, but shouldn't all commissioned reports that are funded by taxpayer money be released regardless of their conclusions? That's just common sense and voter respect. Come on, Fredericton! Taxpayers are flipping the bill for this silliness, at least give us a peak at the goods.
Lamrock, and all members of government, for that matter, should be held personally responsible if it is proven they have frittered away taxpayer money over and above the usual squandering that goes on.

If I was on the end of the gavel, and New Brunswick had a Siberia, Lamrock would be sipping a thin borsch soup on a frosty train right now. As for Croll and Lee, it appears they couldn't crunch the data on a two-car parade.

If the Liberals have so much spare money to throw around, commission me for $100,000 I'll prove Yoda was the ruination of the Universe and Darth Vader really wasn't such a bad guy after all. I think irony died the day Lamrock became the Minister of Education. As a teacher of English as a second language here in Tokyo, I've seen first hand the importance of exposing kids to a different tongue early on. Young kids are extremely impressionable, yet The Fish surely is under the old assumption that kids are stupid.

New Brunswick used to be a progressive society. French immersion started in Grade 7, and several years later, they wisely decided to start it in Grade 1. I actually thought the next step was offering French to pre-schoolers. Under the Lamrock watch, I guess I was wrong.
I can't believe Liberal MLAs towed the line on this one. It just goes to show that politicians claim to represent voters, but when the stuff starts to hit the fan, 99 per cent of them back the party first. That's not democracy. That's personal and party agenda.

I figured the current Liberals were a pretty arrogant lot after the local courthouse fiasco, and their handling of the EFI situation has offered little to suggest otherwise. And while Bob Bernier can take pride every time he looks in the mirror, I have my doubts the greater majority of our representatives, the current education minister included, could even find their reflection at all.

Stay tuned…
Collina native Michael Baxter teaches English in Tokyo, Japan and invites both criticism and support to outsidethebax@gmail.com

Guest editorial Communication report a waste of money
Published Tuesday May 27th, 2008
CanadaEast News Service
Miramichi Leader

More than 50 per cent of marriages in this country end in divorce. In most of those cases a lack of effective communication is cited as a key issue in the break-up.
Perhaps then the fear of a nasty divorce is why the Liberal government in Fredericton decided to spend $100,000 for an 83-page consultant's report on how it can more effectively communicate with the public.

The Liberals could certainly use some help in that department. Just look at the mess it has made of the decision to scrap early French immersion (EFI) based on the recommendations of a consultants' report and without consultation with parents.

Months after deciding to end EFI this fall, the public furor over the decision has not declined and, in fact, seems to be growing while Education Minister Kelly Lamrock's reaction to the criticism fans the flames.

Initially the minister attacked EFI by referring to it as the "Cadillac program." Everyone seemed to understand that was code for elite and suggestive of a class system whereby a privileged few students are given a better education than the majority of students in New Brunswick schools.
But recently it has become apparent the minister must have a lesser opinion of Cadillacs, because he has also criticized the program as ineffective, saying it was "... a few kids learning in the classroom, and then going out and forgetting about it."

The minister is also letting his district superintendents face the public and defend the program. School District 16 superintendent Laurie Keoughan was thrown to the wolves May 13, facing an angry congregation of parents during a meeting at Croft Elementary. The superintendent didn't exactly endorse the program when he told parents not to shoot the messenger, that he was setting aside any personal feeling he may have and simply doing his job at the direction of the provincial government.

The FSL fiasco is just one very obvious example of why the Graham government needs to do a better job communicating with the public. Yet we don't think taxpayers needed to spend $100,000 for a report that calls on the premier to be an international leader in public engagement, that suggests government departments design their own public engagement processes and, finally, that advises the government to consult with the public before making major decision.

It seems to us the decision to hire consultants rather than use its own communications officers to produce a report on communication (after all, is that not their job?) was in and of itself an exercise in public relations nothing more than an extravagant (not to mention patronizing) attempt by the government to convince us that it really does care about what we think.

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