Saturday, May 17, 2008

Terrific Letters May 16th

Letters Published Friday May 16th, 2008, The Daily Gleaner

French culture will suffer from immersion decision

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 Education Minister 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 the students graduating in Lamrock's new plan will not 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 that Lamrock has used to steamroll 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 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

Why is Graham using the wrong 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.

A recent opinion 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 to nearby schools.

One can only assume that the premier did not intend to mislead the province and 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's 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 revenue numbers miscalculated by 37 per cent, or calculations on the impact of uranium mining misrepresented by a third?

Jody Wagstaff , Fredericton

Letters Published Friday May 16th, 2008, Telegraph-Journal

More to language than future jobs

My daughter, a Grade 8 early French immersion student, is participating in the national science fair in Ottawa this week. She called last evening and was telling me how she had never imagined how much she would need to flip back and forth from English to French when communicating with her peers.

A member of the New Brunswick team is French and although he can speak English it is apparent to her he feels more comfortable speaking French, so she speaks to him in French. There are students from Quebec who don't speak English as well as students from western Canada who don't speak French. Being bilingual, she has been a bridge between these two cultures.

Kids come up to the New Brunswick team and say "You're from New Brunswick? You must be able to speak French and English. Can you say something in French for us?"

I am very proud of the fact that my daughter can speak, with ease and without reservation, two languages. It makes me very sad and angry that the government of New Brunswick has undervalued the importance of this skill and has removed the opportunity for children of English-speaking parents to educate their children in French thus removing future experiences such as this one from New Brunswick children.

Knowing two languages and having the ability to use them with confidence and effectively goes far beyond the realm of employability. It opens doors to experience a richer fuller life.


Education minister's statement baffling

I'm baffled by the article in Wednesday's Telegraph where Kelly Lamrock states that "one size fits all education" is not good for students.

Isn't that exactly what he's trying to do with the elimination of EFI in Elementary school? He's eliminating parents' choice, giving no French instruction to those who want it, and forcing intensive French on everyone - even those who don't.

The decisions he's making and the words he's saying make less and less sense with each new "change" he comes forward with.

I'm scared to see what Lamrock's next proposal might be.

LORI DOUCET, Fredericton

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