Carr cancels language monitors for French schools
Education minister says new system staffed by laid-off teachers will be better
The Department of Education is cutting a program that helps children who do not speak French pick up the language so they can attend francophone schools.
More students are enrolling in francophone schools and some of those children are unable to speak French fluently when they arrive in class.
School districts have been providing classes with language monitors to help improve their language skills.
Franck Roublin, the president of the parents committee at Sainte Bernadette school in Moncton, said 75 per cent of the kindergarten and Grade 1 students barely speak French.
Roublin said those children used to have a language monitor work with them in order to learn French quickly but that program is being ended.
"The minister of education is actually cutting a program that is definitely helping kids to master the French language," he said.
Education Minister Jody Carr said in an interview he has a better idea on how to teach these students.
Instead of language monitors, Carr said the provincial government is going to use teachers who would have been laid off because of declining enrolment levels.
He said his initiative will be more inclusive and the instructors will work on all learning problems, such as reading, spelling and speaking.
"So, therefore, we have better quality, better-trained teachers and we're reaching more students in all of our schools," he said.
There were 101,079 students enrolled in New Brunswick schools in 2012, 71,955 in the anglophone districts and 29,124 in the francophone districts.
That is a sharp decline from 2008, when there were 108,407 students with 77,288 in the anglophone districts and 31,119 in the francophone districts.
The Department of Education has a policy that outlines the schools where children can attend.
The rule says children can attend a school if they speak the language of that institution, both official languages or neither official language.
The only time a student can enrol in a school without meeting those guidelines is if they are considered an ayant droit.
Ayant droit refers to children who have one parent who was schooled in French and enjoys protection under the constitution's minority language education clause and another parent who does not speak French. The constitution grants those children the right to attend a French school even if they are not fluent.
Acadian Society concerns
The province’s Acadian Society is not sure if the Department of Education’s proposal to use laid-off teachers instead of language monitors is going to work.
Jeanne D'Arc Gaudet, the society’s president, said English-speaking children in the French system need to focus first on learning the language.
"Many of these kids they come into our schools they can't speak the language they don't even understand but we have an obligation to help them, " she said.
Gaudet said as more parents opt to put their children into the French system, the provincial government will have to make sure it can provide the proper education.
She said she will wait to see if the new plan works.
But Gaudet said the previous system of language monitors was successful in raising the language skills of children.