NB Government MP asks to slow down on French Immersion

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NB govt member calls for slow down on French immersion

Parents and teachers sharply criticized the abolition of the French immersion program in front of the Minister of Education during a public consultation in Moncton on Thursday evening.

Andrea Anderson-Mason is a member of the Progressive Conservative Party, in power in New Brunswick.

MP Andrea Anderson-Mason of the Progressive Conservative Party is calling on the Government of New Brunswick, of which she is a member, to “step on the brakes” and gradually implement its new French immersion.

This intervention comes as the Ministry of Education is holding a series of public consultations on the gradual abolition of its French immersion program. One was particularly stormy Thursday night in Moncton, where Minister Bill Hogan was heckled.

A new learning program French as a second language will replace French immersion in the Anglophone sector starting in September.

According to Fredericton, this is an innovative immersion program in which young people will do exploratory learning in French for half a day. The other half will be devoted to other subjects, taught in English.

Only students in grades 2 to 12 who are already enrolled in immersion will be able to complete their course.

Andrea Anderson-Mason, MP for Fundy-Les-Îles-Saint-Jean-Ouest, told the Standing Committee on Public Accounts that she was concerned about the pressure this new program could put on teachers.

Deputy Minister of Education John McLaughlin told the committee that a decision would be made at the end of consultations to determine whether the new curriculum as a whole will see the light of day or whether changes must be made.

John McLaughlin is Deputy Minister of Education in New Brunswick.

I want to be clear that this is a proposal, said the deputy minister. He added that the new program was to come into effect in September 2024, but that it was a government decision to implement it in September 2023.

Andrea Anderson-Mason then said told reporters that she only heard negative things about the announced changes to the French immersion program.

In writing, Education Minister Bill Hogan said he still wanted the new program to be implemented next fall.

On Thursday evening, the Minister of Education, accompanied by senior officials from his department, held a public meeting in Moncton on the new program.

Parents, teachers and community members showed up in large numbers. Over 300 people attended. The organizers expected to receive 135 people instead.

More than 300 people participated at a public meeting on the phasing out of the French immersion program, Thursday evening in Moncton.

While the meeting was intended to be a forum for friendly exchange, Minister Bill Hogan quickly faced several speeches going against his reform.

He did not obviously didn't like it. Here's how it's going to be tonight, he replied. We can be respectful and follow the procedure or end it all right now. The choice is yours.

Bill Hogan, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, November 18

Minister of Education and Deputy Minister John McLaughlin defended Fredericton's plan despite everything. We think it's a good program, said the deputy minister. It's not like we want to ruin the lives of children. We are trying to improve it.

Parents who took part in the meeting said they were disappointed and felt that they had not received concrete answers to their concerns.

The program that the government is proposing is not a French immersion program, laments Michel Gallant, parent of an immersion student.

“They say it's a consultation, but it's not. We do not see how they will be able to make changes if they do not listen to us. »

— Michel Gallant, parent of a French immersion student

De Many parents traveled to Moncton on Thursday to voice their concerns about the planned changes to the French immersion program.

Nadine Fullarton would have liked to enroll her son, who will start grade 1 in September, in the current French immersion program. She believes that everything is not yet decided and that all New Brunswickers must put pressure on the government.

This decision will affect us all. Not just the students, but also the people who will determine the future of our province.

Chris Collins, Executive Director of Canadian Parents for French, last December

Chris Collins, spokesperson for Canadian Parents for French, says Fredericton still has a chance to back down on the new program. They won't have enough teachers for September. Many people in New Brunswick are unhappy with the new program.

Public consultations continue on January 24 at the Delta Hotel in Saint John and January 25 at the Fredericton Delta.

Virtual sessions will be held on January 31 and February 2. A survey is online until February 3.

With information from Margaud Castadère, Michel Corriveau, Maeve McFadden (CBC) and Jacques Poitras (CBC )

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