NBTA president challenges talk of French immersion reform

The president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association says the province can't afford another abrupt change in French immersion policy.

Peter Fullerton says sound data and research is needed before changing early entry point again

The president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association says the province can't afford another abrupt change in French immersion policy.

New Brunswick Teachers' Association president Peter Fullerton. (CBC)
Peter Fullerton was reacting to a promise by Liberal Leader Brian Gallant to look at restoring the entry point for early French immersion at kindergarten or Grade 1, if his party is elected in September's provincial election.

In 2008-09, the Liberals changed the entry point by moving it to Grade 3 from Grade 1.

"Education is once again being used as a political football," said Fullerton.

"Here we go all over again. I wonder why politicians are making these decisions and why it's not left in the hands of educators within the system."

Fullerton said Gallant met recently with the executive of the teachers' union and he never mentioned his plan to revisit the entry point for early immersion.

"It was news to us," said Fullerton.

We can't continue to rob from Peter to pay Paul to be able to run a system that just changes willy-nilly every four years.- Peter Fullerton, NBTA president

Any decision to change the system once again needs to be based on sound research and data, said Fullerton.

"We can't continue to rob from Peter to pay Paul to be able to run a system that just changes willy-nilly every four years. Set a focus and let's chart the course."

Fullerton said he would consider asking the Liberals to take a look at withdrawing the promise. He notes the children who began early French immersion in 2008-09 have not yet reached high school.

"The data is not yet in on the Grade 3 immersion point," he said.

"I think, at best, the data is incomplete."

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