Thursday, June 5, 2008

Letters | Family reconsiders moving to New Brunswick

Daily Gleaner
Published Wednesday June 4th, 2008

This letter was sent to Education Minister Kelly Lamrock

I am writing to you to express my concerns over the proposed elimination of the early French immersion program in New Brunswick.

We are a family from Alberta who will be moving to New Brunswick in July this year. This decision greatly affects our family, even to the point where I am wondering whether we should be moving to the province at all.

My youngest child will not have the option to study early French immersion in New Brunswick. When we return to Alberta, he will have missed out on the basics of early French immersion and his transition into French immersion here will be that much more difficult. By then, it might not even be an option for him.

My second child will also be missing out on core French (learning a second language has become mandatory in Alberta beginning in Grade 4). She, too, will be missing out on the language instruction which she will be expected to pick up and continue upon our return.

Lastly, my eldest daughter, who has done French immersion since Grade 1, will fortunately have the opportunity to continue in the immersion program.

However, our choice of schools has become greatly limited, as we wanted to have our children attend the same school.

I was so looking forward to coming to New Brunswick because I knew that it was the only officially bilingual province in Canada. This changes everything.

And now I am wondering if the children and I should even come at all. It might be better for my husband to come to your province alone and work, and for the children and I to stay in order to protect the integrity of their education.

For us, the choice has come down to having our family separated, or jeopardize the educational future of our children.

Did you consider any of this when you made your decision? Did you even stop long enough to give people whom it would affect the most, the opportunity to at least let you know how it would affect them?

Furthermore, as a new Canadian, I understand that one of my rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is that my children (all Canadian citizens) have the right to be educated in either of Canada's official languages.

Could you please clarify this for me, Mr. Lamrock? Or have I misunderstood my rights and freedoms?

Janelle Jorgensen, Pincher Creek, Alta.

Speaking out on behalf of teachers who can't

Because a "code of professional conduct" precludes school teachers from expressing any opposition to Education Minister Kelly Lamrock's stream of announcements, I, a retired school teacher, will make a plea on their behalf.

Mr. Lamrock, please stop pretending that you have personally invented all innovative modes of teaching from the past 50 years. When at Park Street Elementary School, you stated: "We have to break away from the idea that learning happens in silos."

With those words, you insulted every elementary teacher who works in this province, and just about everyone who trained them.

These people have thought and worked hard to provide integrated teaching environments well before you arrived as minister of education. In fact, I venture to guess that many of them taught math with song when you were still in diapers. Similarly, how can you claim that out-of-class events introducing students to the French culture of New Brunswick is a new idea, much less a "hidden X factor" in education?

You might be surprised at how many school visits to Le Pays de la Sagouine took place before you took office. The only important difference in the future will be that none of the children visiting from elementary schools will know a single word of French. That's the one change that you and the Graham government can honestly call all your own, since nobody before had even proposed it.

But you know what the citizens of this bilingual province think of that.

Pearl Bryenton, Fredericton

Liberal MLAs: Take a stand

To the Liberal MLAs: Rest assured while education may not be your portfolio, you are all being tainted with Minister Lamrock's experiment in social policy.

In private, you may have questions about his plan to eliminate EFI 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 Brunswick political history. Those that 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

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