By ADAM BOWIE
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.
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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.
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Anonymous Reader on 09/06/08, 6:33:24 AM ADT
And he lies again.
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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.
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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.
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Anonymous Reader on 09/06/08, 8:34:48 AM ADT
Monday, June 9, 2008
By ADAM BOWIE