Saturday, June 28, 2008

This Week in Early French Immersion

June 28th, 2008
Streaming isn't a reason to eliminate EFI--Telegraph-Journal
Summertime, and the living is crazy--Telegraph-Journal
Experts agree with assessment that early immersion works--Letter- The Daily Gleaner
Streaming happens outside immersion--Your View - The Daily Gleaner
Kelly Lamrock: who named you a superhero? Times and Transcript

June 27th
Premier must heed reccomendations--Letter ThisWeek
Both sides in immersion debate not being treated fairly--Letter - The Daily Gleaner

June 26th
Sussex councillors vote unanimously to delay early French immersion decision--Telegraph-Journal
Immersion Parents have opportunity to voice concerns about French program--Telegraph-Journal
Experts should set direction for French immersion debate--The Daily Gleaner
Parents keen to learn about education choices--The Daily Gleaner

June 25th
Supervisor should have been ID'ed--Letter- Times and Transcript (link to letter that this entry cites -- Ombudsman's report appears to be predetermined)
FSL: something subtle and remarkable--Miramichi Leader

June 24th
Listen to what the experts say--Letter - Telegraph-Journal
French immersion court ruling impedes preparation time, says one retired educator--The Northern Light
The Way I See It: Minister's failing grade won't change final outcome--The Northern Light
Elimination of early immersion is 'a serious mistake': MP Godin--The Northern Light
Patience gone for unreasonable minister--Bugle-Observer
The solution to streaming is access to help for struggling students--Kings County Record,

June 23rd
Education issue is about choice--Letter - Telegraph-Journal
Graduates say being bilingual is essential--The Daily Gleaner
Children learn best when young--Letter Times and Transcript

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This Week -- Department of Education Open Houses

A series of open houses, hosted by the nine anglophone school districts, will take place on Wednesday, June 25 from 12 noon – 8 p.m., and on Saturday, June 28 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. District representatives will be on hand to provide information and answer questions, and people can also submit written comments at the events.

Please attend and make your opinions known.

Click here to link to DOE site listing their locations

Do not forget to get your comments to Minister Lamrock and DOE.

To share your views with Minister Lamrock and DOE please click this link to go to their comments submission site.

Click here to see comments published on DOE's website.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Ottawa-Carelton District School Board's Review of FSL programs, elementary phase

EFI equals streaming - right? Not necessarily. However, Late Immersion does. See below:

Bloggers' note:
As indicated in a previous blog entry, the Ottawa-Carleton Board of Education decided to terminate their Late French Immerision Program because they found that it caused streaming problems. It is an interesting read and we would strongly recommend that this report be read by all interested parties. Clearly it should have been read by Croll and Lee.

Additional note: unlike the Croll-Lee review, which had no reference list and cited only a handful of papers (mostly reports), the Ottawa-Carleton review actually had a reference section (4.5 pages long) containing numerous peer-reviewed publications. This suggests that they actually did the background research to develop their conclusions. This presents another question: Not only is the Croll-Lee report flawed and discredited based on their math and unsupported conclusions, but why did they not review the literature? Perhaps there is no current scientific evidence to support their approach and conclusions. Also, why didn't Croll and Lee cite the Ottawa-Carelton review? It is very pertinent to our situation - Ottawa is a bilingual environment with similar participation in French Immersion programs. Clearly, New Brunswickers deserve better.

With regard to streaming, segregation (an unfortunate term that DOE is using), and class heterogeneity there are numerous quotes from the Ottawa-Carelton review that are pertinent to Minister Lamrock's and DoE's most recent justification for terminating EFI in NB. Here are two:

  • "Much of the debate within the immersion literature has focused on the appropriateness of this type of program [FI] for certain groups of students (e.g., ELLs, students withspecial needs, students in their early years of schooling). While it is acknowledgedthat early on this may have been the case, more recent research suggests that immersion programs are not elitist (particularly in EFI), and that there can, and should, be an appropriate program option for all groups of children, including those with special education needs and those for whom English is their second language."
  • "Immersion programs have traditionally been viewed as being elitist. However, Dube and MacFarlane (1991) argued that while this may have been the case in the initial stages of implementation, EFI typically serves a more heterogeneous student population in terms of cognitive ability and social background. The reason for this is that parents of children in SK have little knowledge of their child's academic ability because it has not yet been formally assessed. By grade 4 or grade 7, however, parental decisions to register in MFI and/or LFI programs are based more on a child's academic ability, resulting in more homogeneous groupings than those found in the EFI program."

Click here to download the full report

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Busy and weird day


Lamrock turns down ombudsman's advice on French immersion--The Daily Gleaner

Parents take sides on French immersion changes--The Daily Gleaner

Watchdog fails Lamrock on immersion changes--Times and Transcript

N.B. firm on stopping early immersion programs--The Globe and Mail

N.B. Liberals face public scrutiny following difficult legislative

'Serious flaws' in FSL process: report --

Embarrassing Editorials from NB papers

Let's not delay essential change --Times and Transcript -- or Bloggers' Alternative Title -- What facts? Who needs facts? Let's make a change for change's sake.

No place for politics -- Telegraph Journal -- Bloggers' comment: Since the editor likes Thoreau, here is another of his quotes -- "It takes two to speak the truth: one to speak, and another to hear." Maybe it is time the editor starts listening.

A few more stories today--let's see what happens tomorrow.

N.B. government rejects ombudsman's plea--Globe and Mail

N.B. Liberals face public scrutiny following difficult legislative

Let MLAs consult the public--Telegraph-Journal

Ombudsman recommends 1-year delay to French immersion changes--CBC

District 18 students excel in test--The Daily Gleaner [Note: District 18 does have EFI]

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Report of the Ombudsman into the Minister of Education’s decision to modify the French Second Language Curriculum

Ombudsman and Child and Youth Advocate
June 2008

Click here to link to the report that comes out strongly supporting the concerns and comments of so many New Brunswickers.

A few excerpts

"Jurisdiction and Scope of Investigation

On April 3, 2008, my notice of investigation summarized the main areas of investigation under the following headings:

  • Unfairness stemming from a lack of consultation
  • Unfairness due to insufficient notice prior to implementation
  • Decision premised upon a mistake of fact arising from errors in statistical
    analysis and other factual errors
  • Failure to consider all the evidence before the Commissioners and before the
  • Bias arising from an alleged pre-determination of the consultation outcomes
  • Determination of FSL policy on the basis of irrelevant grounds or considerations,
    or for an improper purpose
  • Failure to consider commitments of citizen engagement in the government
    response to the Commission on Legislative Democracy


It is recommended that:

  1. The Minister immediately confirm plans with the school districts to allow parents to register Grade one students in French immersion in September.
  2. The Government defer the consultation announced by Minister Lamrock and delay implementation of the elimination of early French immersion until September 2009, pending the outcome of a public engagement process as outlined in the provincial government’s recent report, authored by the province’s Advisor on Public Engagement, Don Lenihan, and entitled: “It’s More than Talk: Listen, Learn and Act: A New Model for Public Engagement.” Further, that the services of a highly qualified consultant, such as Mr. Lenihan, be retained to carry out the process, concluding in time for the next (2009-2010) school year."

Second shoe set to drop

Report Ombudsman will weigh in today on the decision to axe early immersion


FREDERICTON - Ombudsman Bernard Richard's report on the province's elimination of early French immersion is set to deal another blow to the government when it is released today.

Weeks after Education Minister Kelly Lamrock took the axe to early immersion, and with more than 200 complaints flooding into the Ombudsman's office, Richard announced his intention to review the process behind the decision.

Click here to link to full article

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Some background information to help clarify the relationship between FSL and first language skills

A report commissioned by the Atlantic Provinces Education Foundation, which NB is a member, examined the effects of second language learning on first language literacy skills.

Click here to go to the Monique Bournot-Trites and Ulrike Tellowitz"Report of Current Research on the Effects of Second Language Learning on First Language Literacy Skills"

Their conclusions were clear:

  1. There is no negative effect of second language training on first language proficiency, and
  2. Second language training seemed to actually boost proficiency in first language literacy skills.

See excerpt from their report below:

"The effect of learning a second language (e.g. French) on first language skills has been positive in all studies done. Furthermore, the loss of instructional time in English (first language) in favour of the second language has never been shown to have negative effects on the achievement of the first language. Cummins' interdependence hypothesis, which maintains that language skills are being transferred from one language to the other, can be assumed to be true for the core French situation as well. One can confidently assume that cognitive abilities acquired in the learning of one language can be put to use in the acquisition and proficiency of the other language. Numerous studies about the relationship of second language learning to first language skills support this claim. In these studies the first language skills did not suffer. On the contrary, in many studies first language skills were shown to be enhanced, even if instruction time in L1 [first language] was reduced in favour of L2 [second language] instruction.

The literature gives us this very positive evidence about the value of learning a second language. These advantages have been shown in the above studies to be in the cognitive area; but another important educational factor is the positive attitude and understanding it creates for other cultures. Lapkin and Swain (1984, p. 52) report on a study of compositions that grade 5 and 6 students had to write, about "Why I like being Canadian." The immersion students gave on average two to three times as many reasons than did the English comparison groups. They commented especially on the rich and varied cultural and linguistic composition of Canada. This was seen to be a very positive and encouraging consequence of learning a second language." (pages 30 and 31).

Nice analogy

Bugle Observer

Dear Editor,

Imagine the minister of Transportation unveiled a new plan for a bridge over the St. John River.

Imagine also that dozens of mathematicians found flaws in the calculations for the design, the manufacturers of the major components of the bridge said they wouldn't carry the weight, all New Brunswick civil engineers said it wouldn't work, and a large part of the public said it wasn't what they wanted any way.

If the minister were given the chance to relaunch the project, do you think the minister should offer up the same discredited design?

If you answered ‘no,' you should hope that (Education) Minister (Kelly) Lamrock never takes over the transportation portfolio, because that is exactly the approach he is taking with his ‘consultation' on French language instruction.

Even though the rebuke by Justice McLellan gave him a golden opportunity to re-design the FSL plan according to professional advice, Lamrock has decided to relaunch the old, discredited Croll and Lee plan.

His ‘consultative' Web site even links to the exact same document that stirred the controversy weeks ago, the document that dozens of mathematicians considered statistically flawed, that was rejected by the inventors of Intensive French (the plan's major component), that all N.B. language experts have opposed, and that summoned sufficient public opposition to land the minister in court.

In educational planning, just as in engineering, if the design is wrong, you go back to the drawing board; if you try to fix a fundamentally flawed design, it ends in disaster. waiting to come home,

Shelley Ashfield, P. Eng., Cortenay, B.C.

French cuts delayed by judge's decision, or not

By Charlene MacKenzie
King's Record

SAINT JOHN In the wake of a judge's decision overturning the province's elimination of early French immersion this fall, New Brunswickers may not know whether the axe is still falling until Aug. 5.

Kings East MLA Bruce Northrup says if he could look into a crystal ball, he's pretty sure he'd see Education Minister Kelly Lamrock going ahead with the status quo, implementing the sweeping changes he announced March 14.
Parents are looking for a one-year moratorium on the changes and a proper investigation, not six weeks of "lip service," Keith said of Lamrock's proposed online consultation period.

"He needs to consult real French second language experts and end up with something credible, not full of flaws, mistakes, innuendo and anecdotes."

She's awaiting Ombudsman Bernard Richard's report later this month on his investigation into the province's decision to cut early immersion.

"It's far from over," agreed Northrup, who believes Lamrock and the Liberal government wasted a chance to take another year to consult experts in favour of adhering to their controversial plan. ...

Click here to link to full article.

Early immersion supporters call for one-year moratorium on reforms

The request comes in the wake of a court decision last week forcing the government to reopen debate on its plan for early immersion. To that end, Education Minister Kelly Lamrock launched a six-week consultation period.
"The government really has to go back to the drawing board and really listen to people, and make their voices count," said Jane Keith, the group's executive director. Lamrock's method of inviting people to share their opinions via the Internet, rather than face-to-face, is inadequate, she added.

Citizens for Educational Choice, the group that took Lamrock's proposal to axe early immersion into the courts, also issued a release Monday blasting the government over a brochure that was distributed in weekend newspapers.

The brochure provides an update on the province's education initiatives and includes a statement on the plan to eliminate early immersion.

"It clearly contravenes the decision that came down (in the court)," said Tim Jackson, who was involved in organizing the court challenge.

Communications New Brunswick spokesman Tim Porter said the education brochure was created and distributed to newspapers a full week before the court ruling came down, noting its purpose was to provide a comprehensive update.

Groups have started latching on to almost anything that could be construed in some way to support their point, Porter said.

"We are taking the high road," he said. "We are trying to consult. We are trying to come up with good ideas."

Bloggers' comment:

We are sure we are not the only ones confused about Mr. Porter's comments. Does the recent glossy insert entitled "Becoming the best - update on public education initiatives Anglophone sector" sent out June 14th contravene the ruling of court?

We must remind Mr. Porter that Minister Lamrock's decision on March 14th to end Early French Immersion in NB was quashed by Justice McLellan in his ruling on June 11th.

However, on the last page of the recent DOE flyer they indicated that Intensive French in grade 5 is the universal entry point to FSL learning; i.e, no more early French Immersion as of 2008. We realize that this flyer was printed before the ruling, however, the government did not stop its distribution. It was distributed through all three major NB Newspapers on Saturday, June 14th.

Clearly, DOE and NB Communication had enough time to ask the publishers to not insert the glossies in Saturday's papers. As of this posting, it is still on their website.

Canadian Parents for French calls for one-year moratorium


The New Brunswick branch of Canadian Parents for French is calling for a one-year moratorium on any changes to early French immersion and early core French.

The group is also requesting that a working group of French second-language experts and researchers be established - similar to the working group that was set up to look at post-secondary education - to develop the best possible French second-language plan for the province.

"We know the system has to be fixed, but that doesn't mean slash and burn, and eliminating programs that produce a high level of French proficiency, like early French immersion," said Jane Keith, the group's executive director.

She said parents aren't comfortable with Education Minister Kelly Lamrock heading up another round of consultation.

"Lamrock needs to put the brakes on and remove himself from the debate," said Keith.

"He's too enmeshed in the issue to be impartial. We need impartial French second-language experts and researchers to give us good, solid, trustworthy advice this time around."
Click here to link to article.

Monday, June 16, 2008

More Great Letters

Daily Gleaner
Some thoughts on Lamrock’s immersion plan -- Bruce Robertson, Sackville, NB
When confronted with parent school support committee surveys showing that parents oppose his French secondlanguage plans in a ratio of about 4:1, Education Minister Kelly Lamrock doubted the statistics, claiming that some who had expressed their opposition in the survey had subsequently telephoned to inform him that they had mis-voted.
I hope the next time someone conveniently parrots his talking points, Lamrock will have the forthrightness to inform them there is no reason to believe any greater number of students will be in immersion after Grade 5 under his plan, which provides only late French immersion. ...

Telegraph Journal
Lamrock shouldn't talk of abuse -- Sameera Yusuf, Fredericton, NB
It is amusing and revealing to hear Kelly Lamrock say that he and his colleagues "have a high threshold for abuse."
Are we to understand that the honourable judge's order to hold Lamrock to his promise of full consultation on the EFI issue constitutes abuse? Who is the minister to talk about abuse? He has abused the people's trust and our children's future. ...

Minister has lost credibility -- Bill Evans, Sackville, NB
Judge McLellan said the Minister's decision was "unfair and unreasonable" which confirmed the conclusion so many of us had reached after months of dealing with him on this issue. Simply put, Kelly Lamrock has lost all credibility with the public over his handling of this file. ...

Six weeks is not enough time -- Jean-Guy Richard, Notre Dame, NB
Following the court decision, it is obvious that six weeks is not long enough to consult and exchange ideas with all the stakeholders. ...


June 16, 2008, Globe and Mail Print Edition

'Quashing" is a technical, but pleasingly expressive word for what happened to an ill-considered decision to phase out early French immersion (EFI) in New Brunswick, Canada's most genuinely bilingual province, and our only officially bilingual one.

The judgment on Wednesday of Mr. Justice Hugh McLellan of the province's Court of Queen's Bench rightly took no position on the policy issues of bilingualism and education. On procedural grounds, he quashed, or struck down, a decision in March by Kelly Lamrock, the Minister of Education of New Brunswick. But those matters of procedure point to matters of substance.

One moral of the story may be that politicians should be careful of what they promise in the way of consultation. In July, 2007, the New Brunswick government appointed two commissioners to review second-language education in the province. The government would respond to their report within two months, which Mr. Lamrock said would "allow for a full debate and cabinet response."

The commissioners reported at the end of February. A government news release said the views of citizens on their findings and recommendations would be welcome and listened to.

The report found that many children who start in early French immersion do not carry on in French through high school, and concluded that it should be phased out.

That was just before the March break began. Within two weeks, Mr. Lamrock announced that the phase-out would start in September.

On the causes of the attrition in EFI, the commissioners had little to say. The report has many quotes and numbers, but little analysis - a gap that a real public debate could fill.

Two parents applied for judicial review, and Judge McLellan decided that Mr. Lamrock had raised a legitimate expectation that citizens would really be listened to on this language issue.

It is now Mr. Lamrock's legal duty to go back and review the question. Early French immersion in New Brunswick has at least two months more of a lease of life.

Canada leads the world in French immersion, and hitherto New Brunswick led Canada in providing it. The provincial government must now engage in genuine consultation, and the result should not be a forgone conclusion. It has an opportunity to reconsider its rushed ending of this valuable program.

Click here to link to article

District 16 schools planning for possibility [of] continuation of early French immersion

Published Monday June 16th, 2008
by Daniel Martins

Education Minister Kelly Lamrock announced the end of early French immersion in March, to be replaced by intensive French beginning in Grade 5. Core French would also have been abolished.
In the ruling, Justice Hugh McLellan of the Court of Queen's Bench called Lamrock's decision "unfair and unreasonable," and said the government needed more public consultation before making a final decision on early immersion.
Retired early immersion teacher Esther Mahoney said she was pleased at the judge's decision.

"We certainly need time for consultation," she said. "Hopefully [Lamrock] will be listening to the concerns of the parents and put a bit more thought into it before there is action; put some more thought into the future of our children, and certainly the future of bilingualism in the province."
During question period in the legislature last week, the Opposition Conservatives charged that Lamrock would scrap the program regardless of what the six-week consultation shows.

"This minister has no intention of debating the people of New Brunswick," said Opposition MLA Keith Ashfield. "He will take from those discussions what he wants, with no expertise other than his own, to promote French second language education in this province."

MLA Mike Olscamp wondered if the six-week consultation program was long enough.

"Given the chaos that has been created with this decision, does the minister believe that, come September, those issues will be settled and the school year will get off to a smooth, good start?" he said.

Click here to link to full article

Saturday, June 14, 2008

More articles in NB Press today

Telegraph Journal

Have your say on French immersion -- Minister Lamrock's approach to consultation about FSL training in NB.
Over the next few weeks, I will be given all submissions daily for my personal review, and I will be meeting weekly with staff of the Department of Education to review submissions again. During the six-week consultation period, government will participate in a roundtable with interested stakeholder groups, and the department will organize an open-house session in each of the nine anglophone school districts. ...
Click here to see full article and the comments in the Telegraph-Journal
Click here to see full article and the comments in the Daily Gleaner

FSL decision: wake-up call for Graham?--Robert Macleod Commentary.
Earlier this week, the justice system dealt a blow to Shawn Graham and Kelly Lamrock's plans to gut French second language education in the province. In his decision, Justice Hugh McLellan declared that the Liberal government's plan to eliminate both the Early French Immersion and the Core French programs was "unfair and unreasonable."
Anyone who has been following this debate most certainly agrees with the court. From the very beginning of this phony "debate" the Liberal government has shown nothing but contempt for concerned New Brunswickers. This contempt and an attempt at political trickery were evident at the very start of the process when the plan was sprung on New Brunswickers the Friday before March break, giving people basically only a week to respond.
The Court has left Shawn Graham some wiggle room to get out of this mess altogether... if he is clever enough to seize it. He should take advantage of the window presented by the Court and announce a plan to delay any changes for another school year. The Premier should announce that before he allows Kelly Lamrock to make any changes there will be a truly independent commission that will seek public input. The commission should be comprised of experts from the education faculties of the University of New Brunswick and the Université de Moncton.
Shawn Graham needs to do the right thing, and he needs to do it now. He needs to move Lamrock out of education and then unite this province by building an FSL education system that is acceptable to New Brunswickers.

Letter -- Impose the will of the citizens -- Lisa Herrington
It is obvious that the parents of New Brunswick are not willing to give up the early immersion option for their children. ...
When a report that was commissioned is proven to be flawed, then that report - no matter how vital to the minister's position - has got to be discarded. Educational choice must be restored. Anything less is unacceptable.
My 13-year-old daughter said to me last week "How is it that, the government is being sued by the same people it is supposed to be governing?"
"Exactly," was my reply. A 13-year-old child gets it, so why can't this government?

Times and Transcript
School districts make French plans -- Aloma Jardine

The Daily Gleaner
Referendum needed to solve French immersion issue?
Lamrock should resign

Friday, June 13, 2008

Be a part of it. A discussion paper for New Brunswickers.

Minister Lamrock's discussion paper is now out. Excerpts of particular significance from Minister Lamrock's document (click here to link to document):

"5. The Judicial Review
Some parents felt that the consultation period had not been sufficient for a number of reasons, and made application for a judicial review of the decision to eliminate the Early French Immersion program. On June 11, 2008 a judicial ruling was made that the Minister’s decision be “quashed”. Effectively, this means that the Minister’s previous decision to eliminate Early French Immersion is void and no longer applies. However, the matter of dealing with the Croll Lee Report recommendations was remitted to the Minister, who has decided to re-visit those recommendations.

6. Next Steps - Consultation
In reconsidering the Croll Lee recommendations, the Minister has committed to six weeks of consultation, ending on July 25, 2008. You are therefore asked to consider the challenges presented here, and to present your submissions, comments or proposals to the Minister either electronically or in paper copy, on or before July 25, 2008.

In addition to receiving written submissions, comments or proposals, the Minister will actively engage in the consultation process by meeting with interested groups or individuals. He will also review all comments, submissions and queries as they are received, so that he is fully informed at all times. After this additional period of consultation, the Minister will make recommendations to government. Government’s decision will be announced publicly on August 5, 2008."

Bloggers' comment: We look forward to "being a part of it". Hopefully the debate will be open and that the $100,000 spent on the communication report* will now pay dividends.

*Click here to link to: "It’s More Than Talk Listen, Learn and Act A New Model for Public Engagement The Final Report of the Public Engagement Initiative April 2008"

We will just list titles and links because there is so much news coverage today

Published Friday June 13th, 2008
The Daily Gleaner

Times and Transcript



Thursday, June 12, 2008

Des parents réjouis qui continueront leur combat

Mise à jour le jeudi 12 juin 2008
Par: Mylène Doiron
L'Acadie Nouvelle

SAINT-JEAN - L’émotion était à son comble dans une salle bondée de la Cour du Banc de la Reine, hier, à Saint-Jean, dans l’attente du jugement sur l’abolition du programme d’immersion précoce.

Les éclats de voix, les rires et les pleurs ont perturbé l’atmosphère habituellement calme de la cour lorsque les parents et les enfants qui les accompagnaient ont laissé éclater leur joie en apprenant que le juge leur avait donné raison.

"C’est de l’émotion! Ouf! C’est une décision très positive, l’immersion précoce demeure au N.-B. Le juge donne la possibilité au gouvernement de revisiter sa décision et d’avoir un processus de consultation adéquat", laisse entendre Jacqueline Jacob-Vogels, de Sackville et dont l’un des enfants est en immersion précoce.

Seule ombre au tableau: rien n’empêche le ministre Lamrock d’abolir à nouveau le programme d’immersion précoce dès qu’un processus de consultation raisonnable aura eu lieu. Malgré tout, Mme Jacob-Vogels a confiance.

"Je pense qu’il y a eu assez de débats. On a maintenant des parents, un juge, des enseignants, l’AEFNB, l’ombudsman, des spécialistes en éducation et en langue seconde qui ont dit que le programme que vous (le gouvernement provincial) proposez n’est pas bon.

"Je ne peux pas voir que le gouvernement va poursuivre avec ce qu’il voulait implanter. Alors, prenez le temps de consulter et de développer un programme adéquat pour nos jeunes", lance-t-elle en message au gouvernement.

Ray Small, patriarche de l’une des familles demanderesses dans cette enquête judiciaire, est enchanté de la décision rendue par le juge McLellan.

"D’après ce qu’on peut comprendre, le programme d’immersion précoce vient d’être réinstauré. La cour a parlé. Le ministre doit maintenant mener un processus de consultation du public qui sera juste et ouvert. C’est fantastique!" s’exclame M. Small.

Matthew Litvak et son épouse, Dianna Hamilton, sont professeurs de biologie et de statistiques. Ils ont lu et analysé le rapport Croll-Lee de façon extensive avant de rédiger eux-mêmes un document qui en démontrait les failles.

"Nous allons continuer à mettre en évidence les failles du rapport Croll-Lee. Nous voulons que tous soient au courant. Manifestement, le gouvernement ne nous a pas écoutés et il n’a pas écouté tous les experts qui ont admis que le rapport comportait plusieurs problèmes", déclare Mme Hamilton.

Phoebe Robertson, en 7e année à l’école Marshview, de Sackville, a séché les cours, hier, pour venir entendre la décision du juge.

"J’étais furieuse quand j’ai su que le gouvernement abolissait le programme d’immersion. Dans ma classe, tout le monde parle très bien français. Ça fonctionne, l’immersion! soutient celle qui est passée par le programme d’immersion précoce.

"L’immersion française m’a ouvert tellement de portes! Si mes enfants n’avaient pas ce choix-là, je pense bien que je déménagerais, c’est trop important le français!"

Pour Matthew Litvak, le temps est venu pour le gouvernement de prêter une oreille attentive aux inquiétudes et aux suggestions des parents.

"Nous sommes inquiets, comme tous les parents devraient l’être. Après tout, nous confions au gouvernement la tâche d’éduquer nos enfants. J’espère bien qu’il réalisera que ses actions étaient complètement inappropriées et qu’il prendra finalement conscience que le N.-B. est une province bilingue et que les anglophones souhaitent que leurs enfants soient capables d’interagir avec la communauté francophone."

Question Period NB Legislature.

Minister Lamrock refused to answer any of Mme. Dubé's questions about whether the Early French Immersion program would be re-instated today as was ordered in Judge McLellan's decision.

Click here to link to the question period in today's Hansard.

Coverage in NB press

Lamrock says he's ready for 'abuse'
Published Thursday June 12th, 2008
The Canadian Press

The provincial government is being forced to reconsider its decision to scrap early French immersion, but it's not backing away from the plan yet.
Education Minister Kelly Lamrock said Wednesday he will bow to a court ruling that quashes his decision and orders the government to allow for a "full debate" on the plan to eliminate early French immersion, beginning in Grade 1.
Lamrock said he will allow six weeks of consultation in June and July before making a final decision Aug. 5, leaving just enough time to make changes for the start of the school year in September.
But he warned that the status quo is not acceptable, saying if parents who want to keep early immersion believe they can hammer the government into submission, they are wrong.
"I and my colleagues have a high threshold for abuse," he said, adding he is open to new ideas on how to improve French language instruction in Canada's only officially bilingual province.
Justice Hugh McLellan of the New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench ruled it was "unfair and unreasonable" of the government to axe early immersion in English schools without allowing for full debate and public consultation.
Click here to see full article and comments on the web

Parents win round
Published Thursday June 12th, 2008

Clea Ward is celebrating with caution.
The Fredericton mom is thrilled Justice Hugh McLellan of the New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench sided with parents opposed to the provincial government's decision to cut early French immersion.
He has allowed a judicial review of the government's decision, stating Education Minister Kelly Lamrock was unfair and unreasonable in not allowing enough time for debate on the issue.
The ruling is a victory for parents, but the fight is not over, Ward said.
"I'm cautious about celebrating too much because I don't know what this will mean for early French immersion in the long run," Ward said. "(Lamrock) has been so set in this decision that I'm not sure he's going to take this ruling seriously."
Click here to see full article and comments on the web.

Judge forces province to play nice
Published Thursday June 12th, 2008
Ruling Government to seek more public input on early French immersion after decision.
SAINT JOHN - Parents won a victory in the divisive battle over early French immersion in New Brunswick schools Wednesday as Justice Hugh McLennan ruled the government fell down on its duty to consult with the public.
Calling Education Minister Kelly Lamrock's decision "unfair and unreasonable," McLellan quashed the phase-out of early immersion and urged the province to allow time for interested citizens to make their opinions heard.
To that end, Lamrock will be opening up the issue to a six-week discussion period, during which other potential programming plans can be tabled and examined. On Aug. 5, a final decision will be announced that will determine what happens in September.
Elation erupted at the Court of Queen's Bench - filled to capacity with parents, children and journalists - after the judge handed out paper copies of his seven-page decision. A brief scramble to obtain copies of the documents was followed by silence as people pored over the contents.
Soon, gasps of "we won" rang out from parents and a few hand claps grew into a round of applause. Handshakes and hugs were exchanged, and backs slapped.
"We're feeling pretty great," said Ray Small, one of the parents named in the affidavit submitted with the application for a judicial review of Lamrock's decision.
"The court has spoken."
Click here to see full article and comments on the web

Setback should be opportunity as well
Published Thursday June 12th, 2008
MARTY KLINKENBERG, Telegraph-Journal

The government that spent $100,000 this spring to learn how to better engage New Brunswickers was slapped upside the head by a judge on Wednesday for refusing to engage New Brunswickers.
Obviously, there is a lesson here, but if Wednesday is an indication, it will be lost on the Liberals. Shortly before they were chastised for limiting public discussion on early French immersion, they made a move in the legislature to stifle debate on 19 bills that are waiting to be considered, Sunday hunting included.
Sooner or later, the government will either understand its opinion isn't the only one that counts, or it will be bounced from office by those pesky voters that keep making it hard for the Liberals to do what they please.
In a decision issued in Saint John, Justice Hugh McLellan on Wednesday called the government's plan to scrap early French immersion "unfair and unreasonable" and ordered that future decisions not be made until citizens and organized groups have an opportunity to be heard.
Click here to see full article and comments on the web

Sackville council asks premier to save immersion
Published Thursday June 12th, 2008, Times and Transcript
Wallie Sears
Council calls on premier to halt changes until long-term economic impact can be assessed
SACKVILLE - Proposed changes to French second language instruction in the province are seen here as a further hindrance to economic development and in one of its first moves, the recently elected town council has called on Premier Shawn Graham to put a halt on implementing the procedures until its impact on long-term economic interests of the town can be assessed and an appropriate mitigation strategy adopted.
The motion notes that the province will be left without a system of second language instruction comparable to other provinces and the changes will not affect the nearby town of Amherst, which operates an early French immersion program.
The council motion goes on to stress that Sackville now competes on a global, national and regional basis when recruiting professionals, academics and businesses that can locate anywhere and that Sackville's ability to recruit people who value second language instruction for their children will be seriously compromised by the proposed changes to the province's education system.
Click here to see full article and comments on the web

Immersion changes unfair, judge rules
Published Thursday June 12th, 2008, Times and Transcript
Education minister pledges more consultation, says changes could still be in place for September
Mary Moszynski, Times & Transcript Staff
FREDERICTON - Education Minister Kelly Lamrock will consult New Brunswickers over the summer regarding changes to French immersion after a judge ruled government didn't allow enough time for debate on its decision to scrap early immersion.
But Lamrock was adamant he wants to hear alternative suggestions to cancelling what's considered by many as the Cadillac program for teaching French, saying government isn't going to abandon its goals of improving bilingualism rates and addressing the issue of streaming.
"If the next six weeks turns into a test of 'can we hammer government so hard that they'll simply forget they ever wanted questions to answer, they'll turn their backs on those kids.' That isn't likely to happen," he told reporters. "I, and my colleagues, have a high threshold for abuse.
Click here to see full article and comments on the web

N.B. holds more talks on early French immersion after losing court case
Published Wednesday June 11th, 2008

FREDERICTON - Plans to scrap early French immersion in New Brunswick's schools were put on hold for at least the next couple of months on Wednesday after parents fighting the government decision scored a victory in court.
Education Minister Kelly Lamrock says in the meantime, he will set up a website and consult with those affected until July 25 before announcing his intentions for the program on Aug. 5.
The government had planned to scrap the program starting in September, but that was thrown into doubt when Justice Hugh McLellan of the New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench ruled Lamrock didn't allow enough time for debate on the issue.
"Thus the decision of the minister was unfair and unreasonable," McLellan wrote.
The judgment quashed Lamrock's decision in March to scrap the program and sent the matter back to the government for further review.
Click here to see full article and comments on the web

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

N.B. early French immersion cuts 'unfair and unreasonable': judge

Click here to link to CBC report

Education minister says he'll announce program's fate in August

The New Brunswick government's decision to scrap early French immersion programs was quashed for at least a few months by a provincial court judge Wednesday.

Justice Hugh McLellan, of the Court of the Queen's Bench in Saint John, ruled there should be a judicial review into the cancellation of the early French immersion program, which was offered to students entering Grade 1.

In his seven-page decision, McLellan wrote that the decision to cut the French education program was "unfair and unreasonable."

"The application for judicial review is allowed. The minister's decision to phase out early French immersion is removed into the court and quashed."

Breach of contract alleged

The group had called on the court to delay the program's cancellation. The court challenge dealt with two specific children who are currently enrolled in kindergarten and registered to start early French immersion in the fall, but the case will affect the entire province.
McLellan said that parents who had enrolled their children in the program for the fall "had a reasonable and legitimate expectation that program would not be cut without them having a real opportunity to be heard by the minister."
Lamrock said he would set up a website and consult with those affected by the decision. The consultations are set to continue until July 25, with the announcement on whether the program will go ahead in September to be announced on August 5.

He said the six-week consultation period will allow the government "to hear if there are other ideas from New Brunswickers as to how we can meet our goals. For example, making sure we have a higher rate of participation in immersion programs, making sure we have more bilingual graduates, not fewer, making sure we have more equality and equality of access to bilingual access. These are important questions."

He said he hoped there would be "good conversation" over the next few weeks and that he would keep an open mind.

He said a decision in early August would still leave time to implement his proposals from March for the start of the school year. He said whether another plan could be implemented on this timeline would depend on the details of the alternate plan.

Bloggers' notes: Minister Lamrock's comments in the media are somewhat confusing in light of Justice McLellan's decision. "Quashed" means that Minister Lamrock's plan is terminated and that EFI is reinstated. It means that he now has to re-hire the immersion teachers, not sell the EFI books, put EFI information back on the web, offer information sessions on EFI for next year ... If he does not do this, then we will never know that his consultation period is genuine and he is potentially in contempt of court.

Small & Ryan v. New Brunswick (Minister of Education), 2008 NBQB 201

Decision--June 11th, 2008







- and -

as represented by the Minister of Education


BEFORE: Mr. Justice H. H. McLellan

AT: Saint John, NB

DATE OF HEARING: June 4, 2008

DATE OF DECISION: June 11, 2008

COUNSEL: E. Thomas Christie, Q.C.
for the Applicants

C. Clyde Spinney, Q.C. and
Heather Doyle Landry
for the Respondents

Concluding paragraphs from Mr. Justice H. H. McLellan's Decision


24. In this case I must apply the principles from the precedents including the factors identified in Baker. In my opinion the disputed decision of the Minister in March 2008 was made in contravention of his own representation in July 2007 that the decision-making procedure would have time to “allow for a full debate”.

25. Because of that representation by the Minister I am satisfied that the applicants as parents of children registered to begin Early French Immersion in Grade 1 in September 2008 had a reasonable and legitimate expectation that program would not be cut without them having a real opportunity to be heard by the Minister.

26. In my view the news releases on February 27 and 29, 2008 and the Minister’s invitation for comments did not satisfy the requirements of consultation created by his own “full debate” representation.

27. Thus the decision of the Minister was unfair and unreasonable. The application for judicial review is allowed. The Minister’s decision to phase-out Early French Immersion is removed into the Court and quashed.

28. Following the precedent of the MacDonald case, I remit the matter back to the Minister. The Minister may if he wishes again consider the matter. Any further decision by the Minister should not be influenced by any expectations, consequences or possible waste caused by the March decision that has been quashed. Also any further decision should be made in accordance with the principles of fairness after an appropriate opportunity for interested citizens and organized groups to be heard to satisfy the Minister’s representation that there would be time to “allow for a full debate”.

29. Counsel will be heard with respect to costs.
H. H. McLellan
A Judge of the Court of Queen's Bench
of New Brunswick


Bloggers' notes:

After deliberation, and considering the significance of the case before the courts, Mr. Justice H. H. McLellan awarded the applicants $5000 after indicating the typical award is in the $500-$1000 range.

It was a good and a sad day. The good is that we had our day in court and that an impartial examination of the facts surrounding the elimination of EFI in the anglophone school system resulted in quashing of Minister Lamrock's decision. The sad part is that we had to take the government to court to be heard. Clearly, the Liberal government needs to engage the population of NB when making a decision of this magnitude.

Judge sides with parents

From The Globe & Mail:

Justice Hugh McLellan of the New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench sided with parents who argue Education Minister Kelly Lamrock didn't allow enough time for debate before making his decision on the program.

“Thus the decision of the minister was unfair and unreasonable,” Judge McLellan wrote.

The judgment quashes Mr. Lamrock's decision in March to scrap the program and sends the matter back to the government for further review.

“Any further decision by the minister should not be influenced by any expectations, consequences or possible waste caused by the March decision that has been quashed,” Judge McLellan says.

“Also any further decision should be made in accordance with the principles of fairness after an appropriate opportunity for interested citizens and organized groups to be heard.”

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

French immersion changes proceed as province, parents await court ruling

Published Tuesday June 10th, 2008
Jesse Robichaud -- Canadaeast News Service

MONCTON - The opposition that has erupted in response to the Liberal government's decision to cut early French immersion has not derailed the process of implementing the reforms in time for the start of classes this fall.

Parents Paula Small and Patrick Ryan filed affidavits with the Court of Queen's bench in Saint John last month in support of their application for an injunction that would halt Lamrock's reforms pending a judicial review.

Department of Education deputy minister John Kershaw filed documents seeking an application to end the legal action, claiming financial hardship would occur if the reforms were overturned after $2 million has been spent on restructuring the immersion system.

Lawyers for both sides have stated their cases before McLennan.

Legal counsel to the parents group, Thomas Christie, claimed in court that Lamrock's amendments will contravene the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom's minority language education guarantee. He also focused on what he alleged were incorrect procedures.

Christie charged that Lamrock left only two weeks between issuing a release asking for public input into the decision, which was based on 18 recommendations from the Croll-Lee report. He said that was not enough time to collect meaningful input on the policy change.

The province's lawyer, Clyde Spinney, said Lamrock had no obligation to consult with the public over a matter of broad public policy.

Lamrock sounded the death knell for early immersion in March when he announced reforms of the French second language system based on a controversial report by Jim Croll and Patricia Lee.

Click here to link to full article.

Letters June 10th -- the letters keep coming

Daily Gleaner
N.B. should be embarrassed of French immersion decision

On May 29, the federal commissioner of official languages, Graham Fraser, released his annual report.

In it, he specifically mentions the New Brunswick minister of education and the changes made to French second-language education.

Specifically, the report reads: "... the Commissioner is concerned about the recommendations made by the commission charged with reviewing French-as-a-second language programs and activities in New Brunswick and the decision of the province's Minister of Education to end early immersion programs.

"A very larger majority of experts still agree that immersion, and early immersion in particular, is the best way to learn a second-language."

Premier Shawn Graham should be embarrassed that his Department of Education has been specifically and negatively named in the commissioner's report.

Personally, I'm tired of hearing expert after expert prove how wrong it was to eliminate early French immersion. Premier Graham, it is time to prove that you know what the right decisions are:

* reinstate EFI;

* and remove Education Minister Kelly Lamrock.

Jenny Doucette, Fredericton

Why wasn't Genesee part of team reviewing immersion?

In a letter published in a recent edition of The Daily Gleaner, Dr. Fred Genesee of McGill University took Education Minister Kelly Lamrock to task for misquoting him in some arguments for making New Brunswick Canada's only province without a public early French immersion program.

Genesee points out many flaws in Lamrock's use of his research, but he never mentions the greatest flaw of all. If Lamrock believes that the opinions of experts such as Genesee need to be consulted to justify these decisions, why didn't he hire at least one of them at the beginning of this process, as a member of the panel studying FSL in New Brunswick?

Then, instead of misquoting Genesee's research in a vain attempt to prop up his ill-conceived ideas, he could simply let Genesee speak for himself, and we New Brunswickers would have the benefit of a truly well-thought-out plan for French education.

Debbie White, Fredericton

Even government's lawyers don't support decision

Weeks ago now, when Education Minister Kelly Lamrock decreed that all French instruction would be removed from kindergarten to Grade 4 in schools, he attempted to characterize it as the result of a proper consultation.

When the Croll-Lee study, on which he based that decision, was discredited by wave after wave of criticism, he thereupon tried to suggest that by brushing off opposition as not "Christian" or arguing that the new plan contained a "hidden X factor," he was undertaking a "time of discussion" which should lead to decisions.

If one thing is clear from the recent judicial review of this decision, it is that nobody believes Lamrock's story, not even the government's own lawyers.

It was recently reported that the government's defence will not follow Lamrock's story; instead, they will argue not that he has done his proper duty as a minster, but merely the much safer point that "Lamrock had no obligation to consult the public before making the decision."

It seems that Lamrock, who once wrote the NDP election platform, is leading the way in forming two new Liberal policies: consult only when necessary by law; and admit to a lack of consultation only when sworn into a court.

Kelly Black, Oromocto, N.B.


Liberal popularity drop may be costly

Recent polling suggests the Liberal government has suffered a 12 per cent drop in popularity, but are still ahead of the leaderless Conservatives.

Some will claim 12 per cent isn't much and that it's normal for this point in a mandate when difficult decisions have been made. However, a closer look at the numbers would be warranted.

First, popular vote does not always equal victory. In 2006, the Liberals lost the popular vote but were elected anyway. It has to do with winning seats. Twelve per cent doesn't mean 12 per cent in every riding - in all likelihood the drop is higher in places where people are most angry.

In 2006, 10 Liberal MLAs won by a margin of 15 per cent or lower, and six of these won by less than 10 per cent - ridings where French immersion participation ranges from 37 to 49 per cent. If anger is even slightly concentrated in these areas, their problems are compounded.

Second, this poll was conducted before it was revealed that the government appears to have hired consultants (Croll and Lee) who were looking for data to match their pre-determined conclusions, rather than drawing conclusions based on data.

Third, people have long memories when it comes to their children. Every year parents will have to watch as their children lose out on opportunities to become bilingual. The Liberals are in trouble over this, whether they want to admit it or not. They need to undo the damage now before it's too late.


Lamrock's reality even more elitist

An elementary school still needs to hire the same number of teachers for the same number of students. The number of textbooks will not change. There is no extra cost to early immersion. In fact, costs will skyrocket as communities formerly served by French immersion now assert their constitutional rights for their own francophone schools. This will cost tens to hundreds of millions of dollars.

There is no denying that French-language training in early years is crucial for success. Lamrock concurs, explaining his own child's success in early immersion. Now he deems it better to have more students obtain a mediocre French proficiency evaluation than pay a non-existent cost for an "elite" few to score high. This is not a fix. This is making the problem even worse. A nefarious regression to the mean is no longer good enough. We must also lower the mean.

Lamrock continues that elitism inherent in the status quo is responsible for New Brunswick's terrible scholastic results. He ignores Canada's top performing provinces; all have early French immersion.

Lamrock's new reality is even more elitist and more unjust than before. New Brunswick will soon have two tiers: bilingual francophones and unilingual anglophones. It gets better: a privileged few anglophones may enrol their children into favoured francophone schools, while neighbouring taxpayers cannot. This year, our own local francophone school has dedicated one of four kindergartens entirely for anglophone children.

We can take small comfort; at least the Péquists in Quebec applaud Lamrock's folly.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Science, not pseudo-science

Published Monday June 9th, 2008

It seems that when you don't have science on your side, you turn to pseudo-science.

Kelly Lamrock's French language instruction plan has been given the thumbs-down by a long line of language learning experts, including the two who devised the Intensive French program on which he is banking so heavily.

Now the Minister is attempting to buoy his sinking plan by announcing that "People have missed the plan's ‘hidden X factor,'" in two parts.

First, "integrating more conversational French opportunities into school life" — something that will be hard to do in the only province in Canada whose elementary school setting will not offer a single hour of French language instruction.

The second element is "events that introduce students to the bilingual and French culture in New Brunswick."

Indeed, listening to Acadian stories told in English for half an hour a month will do much more for our province's understanding of French than actually learning the language.

Education is no different from health and finance: when it comes to making plans for our future, the province's citizens expect something better than "X factors."

We'll settle for nothing less than a plan devised by experts.

Sarah Wilby

Immersion changes not properly explained, parents say

Times and Transcript, June 9th
Surveys quizzed parents on planned FSL curriculum changes

FREDERICTON - The results from surveys handed out in schools across the province are starting to come back, and the response thus far is overwhelmingly against the elimination of early immersion.

Within weeks of Education Minister Kelly Lamrock's sweeping reforms to the French second language system, a number of parent school support committees sent a survey home with students to gather more information on how the changes were being perceived by parents.

Approximately three-quarters of parents who responded expressed dissatisfaction at the axing of early immersion.

The process has been completed at five schools -- three in Fredericton and two in Sackville -- and at least a dozen more surveys are still under way, in regions including Saint John, Moncton, Miramichi and Sussex.

The survey contains seven questions, asking parents to weigh in on whether Lamrock's decision was adequately explained, the level of consultation, and whether plans for implementing the changes are sufficient.

Parents are also quizzed on their support for the new intensive French program, the elimination of core and early immersion programming, and the Ombudsman's recommendation to delay Lamrock's plan.

The numbers tell a similar story in each of the five surveys completed so far. In most schools, between a third and a half of parents responded. Overall, approximately 70 per cent said the decision was not properly explained and the opportunity for feedback was inadequate.

About 75 per cent were against the elimination of early immersion, while only about half supported the new intensive French program.

Widespread opposition to changes -- June 9th, 2008


Hundreds of parents across New Brunswick are hoping the results of surveys conducted by parent school support committees (PSSC) on changes to early French immersion programs will voice their true opinions.

The Daily Gleaner has obtained results from surveys conducted at several schools in the Fredericton area and several more in Sackville.

The tallied results from each school indicate most of the surveyed parents are against the elimination of early French immersion and believe Education Minister Kelly Lamrock failed to explain his decision or provide adequate opportunity for feedback.

Parents with students in grades that will be affected by the changes were sent surveys and asked to respond.

The surveys asked parents to indicate if they agreed or strongly agreed, disagreed or strongly disagreed, or whether they had no opinion on the subject, to a series of statements.

Parents had to respond to statements such as, "I believe the reasons for change to the FSL programs have been adequately explained," or, "I support the elimination of Early French Immersion."

Connaught Street School PSSC member Kate Rogers said the surveys were distributed in April and the results were tallied in May.

Seventy-eight per cent of the parents responding from Connaught Street Elementary School said they disagreed with the elimination of early French immersion. Seventy-seven per cent said they disagreed that they had adequate opportunity to provide feedback on these changes.

She said 118 parents at Connaught Street school responded, sending a clear message that they wanted to voice their opinions.

"If given proper opportunity, people do provide input," he said.

"There are some things that (all parents in the anglophone school system) clearly want and one of those things is French-language instruction, whether it comes in the form of early French immersion or it comes in the form of core French.

"We all want that and we want it before Grade 5."

Sixty-four per cent of responding parents at Barkers Point Elementary School, which is in Lamrock's riding, disagreed that they had adequate opportunity for feedback about the changes.

Sixty-nine per cent of responding parents were against the elimination of early French immersion.

At Park Street Elementary School, 195 parents filled out the surveys and 70 per cent of responding parents disagreed with the elimination of early French immersion.

Sixty-three per cent disagreed with the notion that the changes had been adequately explained.

The results were similar at Salem Elementary School in Sackville where 79 per cent of responding parents felt the changes weren't adequately explained.

Seventy-two per cent felt they didn't have enough opportunity to offer feedback.

Lamrock, who has reviewed the results of the PSSC surveys, said he understands that many parents feel uncomfortable with his decision.

But he said he believes there has been adequate consultation and the decision to act was taken.

"I would say, like most things, if you agree with the decision you think there was enough consultation, and if you disagree, you don't," he said.

He said the surveys were conducted soon after the changes were first announced and many people were still gathering information.

Lamrock said he's spoken with many parents who have filled out the surveys but have since changed their position.

"I've had a lot of parents in schools like Barkers Point call my office and they said, 'Well, I answered those but I didn't know for instance that 93 per cent of kids with special needs are in the same classroom. No one told me that. I want you to know that changes my opinion,' " he said.

"Some called and said, 'I didn't realize only 20 per cent of kids are in French immersion after Grade 5. If I'd known that I would have felt differently,' "

Rogers said Lamrock met with PSSC groups recently but chose not to debate the findings of the surveys.

"He answered a lot of questions and everything but he wouldn't discuss the surveys," he said.

"And I think his view is that he did his form of consultations and this is irrelevant."

Parents will have to wait until Wednesday to learn the outcome of the application for a judicial review of the decision to eliminate early French immersion.

Click here to link to article and read the many comments on the web.

A few choice comments from the web as of 8:51 this morning!

Lamrock says that many parents have since changed their minds? based on what??
He can't stop himself from making stuff up as he goes... We're not that stupid.
16 Thumbs Up 1 Thumbs Down
Anonymous Reader on 09/06/08, 6:18:41 AM ADT

The surveys have been done at different times, and the Sackville ones have just been completed as recently as last week.
Its not getting better, Lamrock and you demonstrate once again that you play fast and loose with information to win the debate.
15 Thumbs Up 1 Thumbs Down
Anonymous Reader on 09/06/08, 6:33:24 AM ADT

And he lies again.
13 Thumbs Up 0 Thumbs Down
Anonymous Reader on 09/06/08, 7:14:13 AM ADT

There is clearly no limit on how low Lamrock will go.
Lamrock is out of control and the Liberal government has the reigns and refuses to bring him into control.
Now he is attempting to discredit the PSSCs of the province.
This sure does not sound like a functioning democracy.
14 Thumbs Up 0 Thumbs Down
Anonymous Reader on 09/06/08, 7:17:56 AM ADT

Kelly Lamrock's response is just plain ridiculous. Yeah right... over 100 parents from Barkers Point School called his office to tell him that they've changed their minds since completing the survey. This is just plain LYING and he needs to be held accountable.
A more genuine response would be to actually LISTEN to what parents are saying.
Shame on you Lamrock. Shame on you "Liberal" government.
2 Thumbs Up 0 Thumbs Down
Anonymous Reader on 09/06/08, 8:34:48 AM ADT

Survey says 'non' to FSL changes -- June 9th


FREDERICTON - The results from surveys handed out in schools across the province are starting to come back, and the response is overwhelmingly against the elimination of early immersion.

Within weeks of Education Minister Kelly Lamrock's sweeping reforms to the French second language system, a number of parent school support committees sent a survey home with students to gather more information on how the changes were being perceived by parents.

Approximately three-quarters of parents who responded expressed dissatisfaction at the axing of early immersion. The process has been completed at five schools - three in Fredericton and two in Sackville - and at least a dozen more surveys are still underway, in regions including Saint John, Moncton, Miramichi and Sussex.

"What this tells us is there is no silent majority, or the silent majority isn't perhaps what the government thinks it is," said Diana Hamilton, who helped tabulate survey results for the support committee at Salem Elementary School in Sackville.

The survey contains seven questions, asking parents to weigh in on whether Lamrock's decision was adequately explained, the level of consultation, and whether plans for implementing the changes are sufficient. Parents are also quizzed on their support for the new intensive French program, the elimination of core and early immersion programming, and the Ombudsman's recommendation to delay Lamrock's plan.

The numbers tell a similar story in each of the five surveys completed so far. In most schools, between a third and a half of parents responded. Overall, approximately 70 per cent said the decision was not properly explained and the opportunity for feedback was inadequate. About 75 per cent supported the Ombudsman and were against the elimination of early immersion, while only about half supported the new intensive French program.

"This shows there's incredible opposition to what's being done," Hamilton said, adding she was struck by the time, effort and thought parents put into making comments on the survey. Some wrote directly on the survey sheet, while others attached separate letters.

"My impression is people really appreciated that someone was finally asking what parents thought, because the government hadn't done it," she said.

According to Freda Burdett, spokeswoman for Citizens for Educational Choice - a group that has taken the government to court over the French second language reforms - the surveys speak volumes.

"Parents are saying we were not consulted, we were not listened to, we don't like the speed at which you're making these changes," Burdett said. "Parents across the board are upset."

Lamrock has remained steadfastly behind the reforms, saying in a recent interview that those who disagree with the program changes are getting desperate in their attempts to discredit them.

"At the end of the day, what matters is getting the policy right," Lamrock said. "I still believe, after all the months of debate we've had, I'm more convinced than ever that a universal system is better than one that teaches French to 20 per cent of kids."

Click here to link to article and comments posted on web.

Tasting one's own medicine -- Letter in Times and Transript

June 9th, 2008

To The Editor:

There is only so much hypocrisy a person can take.

Health Minister Mike Murphy is raging about the federal government's new prescription drug plan, as reported in the media June 6. "There's only so much greed that can be supported," Murphy said. "I think the federal government really has to look at this carefully."

He also blasted the federal government for not consulting the provinces, and for allowing health ministers only 15 days to respond to the alterations.

Now, Mr. Murphy, you know how parents feel regarding the French second language plan. Kelly Lamrock presented the ridiculous Croll & Lee Report on Feb. 27, a couple of days before the March Break. He grandly stated that there would be "extensive consultation" prior to making a decision. He then implemented the report "in full" on March 14, two weeks later.

It's nice to see the Graham government get a taste of what it feels like to have a hugely impactful policy shoved down their throats with no consultation. I hope that they succeed in having Ottawa give them the chance to contribute to real solutions, and in turn, I trust they will do the same for the parents and children of New Brunswick.

Carla Dunphy, Fredericton

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Lettters June 7th

June 7th, 2008

EFI decision should embarrass Premier

On May 29, the Federal Commissioner of Official Languages, Graham Fraser, released his annual report. In it he specifically mentions the New Brunswick Minister of Education and the changes made to French second language education.

The report reads: "... the Commissioner is concerned about the recommendations made by the commission charged with reviewing French-as-a-second language programs and activities in New Brunswick and the decision of the province's Minister of Education to end early immersion programs. A very larger majority of experts still agree that immersion, and early immersion in particular, is the best way to learn a second-language."

Premier Graham should be embarrassed that his Department of Education has been specifically and negatively named in the Commissioner's report.

I'm tired of hearing expert after expert prove how wrong it was to eliminate EFI. Premier Graham, it is time to prove that you know what the right decisions are: reinstate EFI and remove Kelly Lamrock.


Daily Gleaner, June 7th, 2008
Policy is tainting other MLAs

This is an open letter to Liberal MLAs.

Rest assured while education may not be your portfolio, you are all being tainted with Education Minister Kelly Lamrock's experiment in social policy.

In private, you may have questions about his plan to eliminate early French immersion or force all children into an experimental intensive French program.

You may even completely disagree with his decision but, we the public, will never know unless you take a stand.

Great politicians and public servants are not known for their ability to toe the party line. Rather, we respect and admire those willing to take a stand against poor policy and bad decisions.

After this fiasco, Kelly Lamrock will be nothing more than a footnote in the pages of New Brunwick political history. Those who step forward to put an end to this mockery of our bilingual culture will be the individuals our children will be learning about and discussing as models years from now.

Take a stand, MLAs.

You represent the people of New Brunswick, not the Liberal Party of New Brunswick.

Force the premier and education minister to reverse the FSL changes.

Sue Park, Saint John, N.B.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Interesting survey by the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce

What do businesses think about the removal of Early French Immersion? The Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce recently ran an on-line survey to answer this question.

The results were clear--respondents were of the opinion that removal of Early French Immersion will not be good for business in the Greater Moncton area.

Click here to link to their results page.

Minister should give credit where it's due

Mirimichi Leader
Opinion--Published Friday June 6th, 2008

At the New Brunswick launch of the Royal Conservatory of Music's Learning Through the Arts, Minister Kelly Lamrock stated in his praise of the program that it shows, "... you can use music and art to create a more engaging classroom ... the kids are far more engaged than sitting still in a chair." Minister Lamrock claims he visits classes frequently. Has he not observed that elementary teachers already do this? Does he really think today's students are painfully sitting still in chairs and that this is the first proof that integrating singing and art into the larger curriculum is a good idea?

The Learning Through the Arts website at wisely makes no such claim; rather it states that the project's goal is to provide "...rigorous, structured curriculum" and lesson plans that supports teachers who are already a long way down this road.

Minister Lamrock needs to stop taking credit for the improvements teachers have already made long before he became minister.

A more productive use of his time would be to find some way to reverse the damage he will do to our province by eliminating all French instruction from the first five years of schooling.

Michelle Williams

Letters: Friday June 6th, 2008

Education data explanation needed

The shell game this Liberal government has been playing has got to stop. I have been asking for answers on specifics of the upcoming program changes, which the Liberal government has announced for this coming school year.

It would seem from the article in Tuesday's paper "That's the rub - Data" that I have been asking the wrong questions.

It has been quietly alluded to that the government had made up its mind about these changes long before the Croll/Lee report was commissioned; now it seems there is some evidence in support of this.

The Liberal government spent $180,000 on a report which has not only been shown to be flawed but now it seems very possible the conclusions of the report were arrived at first, then the data selected to fit those conclusions!

The response from the government official is just as reprehensible.

When the data points in a direction other than the one they desire, the teachers are blamed. Is the arrogance of the Liberal government so entrenched that they really expect us to believe that the teaching in the immersion program is substandard?

And this, the program the minister referred to as an enrichment program for elitist parents. They cannot have it both ways!

If the data in this report was truly manipulated to fit a preconceived conclusion, the people of this province deserve an explanation.

The current minister of education must be held responsible. This is on his watch and he alone is accountable.


Daily Gleaner
Lamrock's mind is clouded

Education Minister Kelly Lamrock and his handful of political hawks are leading his Liberal government on a warpath.

He thinks he's found the weapon of mass destruction in the education system, and it's called early French immersion.

He struck quickly and with stealth. He produced a biased report and then dropped the bomb two weeks later. He's been spinning political propaganda ever since - convincing the public and his own caucus that the EFI program is guilty of crimes in the education system.

He demonizes his opponents, draws upon misleading and inaccurate statistics, and blacks out parts of reports that don't support his position.

He does this all very eloquently.

He still comes across as the smartest guy in the room - so sincere, concerned and genuine. But shrewd is not the same as smart.

A smart politician would have looked a little deeper and would have actually consulted with the experts, teachers and parents.

He would have been flexible in his policy decisions, not single-minded. He would have been truthful in his approach.

Instead, he has his own agenda, claiming that EFI is the smoking gun. The real crime against New Brunswick children is the lack of resources in the education system, as all past reports have stated.

Lamrock could have done the right thing and lobbied his government to address inclusion, enhance core French, infuse EFI with real resources and still fully implement his intensive French program. This would have produced a true increase in learning outcomes, as opposed to smoke screened test results.

Lamrock is leading the education system into a quagmire that subsequent governments will have to clean up.

We need some doves in this government to provide the leadership to change this direction before its too late.

Mike Wolfe, Fredericton

Appalled by decision

As the grandparent of a child in French immersion at Fredericton's Connaught Street School, I have been so impressed by the program and the rapid language development of my granddaughter.

I've been privileged to attend several class events, and it's evident that the children are engaged, stimulated and fulfilled by their school experience.

This contrasts starkly with my own children's experience 30 years ago in French immersion in Ontario, and my grandchildren's current unilingual schooling in British Columbia.

Connaught is head and shoulders ahead of those.

I'm appalled that Education Minister Kelly Lamrock is planning to take arbitrary action to tamper with this obvious success - this jewel in the crown of New Brunswick's education system.

Bob Gibson, La Peche, Que.

Letter to the Editor
Published Friday June 6th, 2008
Dear Editor,

In March and April, two Ministers of government each made a major announcement. One formed his plan with international experts in the appropriate industry, HLT Advisory Inc. and KPMG; the other hired two New Brunswickers with only a passing knowledge of the field.

The first signalled months ago that he was taking New Brunswick into a new venture; the second allowed only two weeks for citizens to discuss the most radical changes in his field in twenty years.

The first has treated the small amount of opposition to his plan with respect and dignity; the second came out swinging when research centres, scholars and citizens called his plan the bad result of a bad process.

I am referring, of course, to Minister Boudreau's recent announcement of a casino in Moncton, and Minister Lamrock's still-embattled plan for French instruction in the province, most recently derided by Dr. Genesee of McGill university as like taking a sledgehammer to fix a boat.

Liberals who persist in supporting Lamrock's plan probably imagine that the growing opposition is some sort of anti-Liberal campaign. But they should take note of these differences: Minister Boudreau did his homework and is advancing his file; Minister Lamrock continues to govern through intuition and is miring the whole party down with him.

Michel Roy, Fredericton