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14 January 2017

English Schools Being Hollowed By French Immersion

The question of turning some of our English-language kindergartens into French Immersion kindergartens is the subject of Kate Jaimet's article in the Ottawa Citizen, published on December 19, 2016. 

Beginning September 2016, all kindergarten programs will be 50% English and 50% French. The entry point for Early French Immersion will move to grade 1.  All students in grades 1 through 3, enrolled in Early French Immersion, will have math instruction in English beginning in September 2016.

Apparently, this is being done to save money as Education, like Health, is suffering from lack of money.  This is just one of the ways for the Ministry of Education to save money.  Ms. Jaimet says that this is not just discriminatory but is not allowed by the Ministry's policy.  English is still the official language of Ontario & English-speakers (whether or not English is their mother-tongue) still make up the majority of Ontarians.  Why would we force people, who want their children taught in the majority language, to take their children out of their communities & bus them somewhere else just because some parents have been frightened into believing that bilingualism is an achievable goal?  The actual rate of success is very low & Margaret Wente's article, below Kate Jaimet's, will list all the reasons why this policy is not a good one.  Follow all the links in that article - they are all relevant to her message. 

Another article by Caroline Alphonso (Education reporter) - The Globe and Mail, Monday, Jan. 09, 2017 12:25PM EST) gives you the rate at which English-language schools are being replaced by French Immersion schools in Alberta, Ontario & BC.  These tables cannot be reproduced here so please link to the article or contact me.

If you live in the Ottawa area, please try to attend the next OCDSB meeting on January 24th at 133 Greenbank Road, starting at 7:00 pm.  Even if you don't make a submission, just showing up to protest this threat to our English-language education will be enough.

This is not just happening in Ontario.  I just received an article from Victoria, BC, where Canadian Parents for French are pushing for more resources to expand French Immersion Schools.  That organization is very well-funded by the Federal as well as provincial governments & they are very active in promoting French.

Kim McConnell


http://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/jaimet-cutting-the-english-stream-from-ottawas-english-public-schools-is-discriminatory

Jaimet: Cutting the English stream from Ottawa's English public schools is discriminatory

Published on: December 19, 2016 | Last Updated: December 19, 2016 1:32 PM EST 

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board is wrestling with language education. Errol McGihon / SunMedia 

It seems too illogical to be true: Ottawa’s English public school board is proposing a policy that would cut English-language instruction out of some elementary schools – barring kids from attending those neighbourhood schools unless they’re able, and willing, to learn in French.

It is a travesty for an English-language school board to prevent small children from attending their local, walkable public school, simply because those children need or want to study in their native language: English. It shouldn’t be necessary to point out that English is one of Canada’s two official languages; the official language of Ontario; and the operating language of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board itself.

Yet buried within the board’s blandly titled “school framework proposal” is a recommendation that would have the effect of turning some elementary public schools into French Immersion-only schools, if there are not enough children in a school’s English stream to form 1.5 classes per grade level. In these schools, all students from grades 1 to 6 would learn every subject – except for English and math – in French.

The proposal will be debated by the Board on Jan. 17, 2017, and come to a vote Jan. 31.

Let’s leave aside the question of how many children constitute “1.5 classes” – a number not defined in the document. That’s a technicality, and there’s no point wasting time in debating technicalities, when the whole principle behind this proposal is wrong-headed and legally questionable.

The Ontario Education Act does not give an English school board any legal mandate to create French Immersion-only schools.

The Act states that there are four types of schools: English-language public schools governed by an English-language public district school board; as well as French-language public schools,  English-language Roman Catholic schools, and French-language Roman Catholic Schools (all governed by their respective school boards).

There is no such thing in the Act as a French-language school governed by an English-language school board. And make no mistake: a school in which all children must learn all subjects except math and English in French is – from the point of view of the child’s learning experiences – a French-language public school.

The Act does state that the education minister may “permit” an English board to establish French-language programs for English-speaking pupils. But the Board can only do so “provided that programs in which English is the language of instruction are made available to pupils whose parents desire such programs for their children.”

In other words, the Act explicitly protects the rights of English-speaking children to go to school in English. The board needs to take its role as protector of English-language education more seriously, especially in schools where children in the English stream are now in the minority.

Data from Statistics Canada and the Toronto District School Board show that if English-language students are excluded from their neighbourhood public schools, the impact will be greatest on certain groups of children: boys, new immigrants and children from families of lower socio-economic status.

Excluding these children from their neighbourhood school contravenes the Ontario Education Act which states that “Every board shall … promote a positive school climate that is inclusive and accepting of all pupils, including pupils of any … place of origin (or) sex.”

The OCDSB’s own 2014-2015 annual report states that “there is a drop in the retention rate by Grade 8 for the Early French Immersion program, primarily due to students moving over to the English program.”

If the board creates exclusive French Immersion schools, children who do not thrive in French Immersion will be forced to change schools midway through their elementary education, and transfer to English-stream schools outside of their neighbourhoods, severing ties of friendship and community.

This is too high a price to make an English-speaking child pay for the perfectly reasonable desire to go to school in English.

 Kate Jaimetis an Ottawa writer.


http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/the-follies-of-french-immersion/article30259804/

Margaret Wente

There's just one problem with French immersion ... well, several, actually Add to ...

Margaret Wente

The Globe and Mail

Published Saturday, Jun. 04, 2016 8:00AM EDT

Last updated Monday, Jun. 06, 2016 10:05AM EDT

Nothing is cuter than tiny tots speaking French. Their accents are impeccable. Their vocabulary is much larger than mine. I took French for years, and I can barely order lunch. These children are formidable! No wonder Canadian parents have gone crazy for French immersion. Who wouldn’t want to raise a bilingual kid? Across the country, demand is soaring through the roof. Schools are scrambling to cope. In some districts, 25 per cent of the primary-school kids are in French immersion. School officials say there would be far more if they could only find more teachers.

Just one problem. Well, several, actually. For many parents, French immersion is a way to game the system. It filters out the kids with behavioural problems and special needs, along with the low achievers. In short, it’s a form of streaming. Most French-immersion students are from affluent, high-achieving families that work hard to give their children an edge. And who can blame them? It sure beats forking over $27,220 a year for the Toronto French School (and that’s for kindergarten).

Unfortunately, this selfish but entirely natural parental tendency is at total odds with the gospel of the Canadian school system, which strives to be equal and inclusive above all else. For schools, “streaming” is a dirty word. We are constantly assured that high-performing kids actually do better in classrooms that include all those other kids. And vice versa.

This tension between the school boards and the parents has created an impossible dilemma. Some schools’ English-language programs are being hollowed out. In dual-track schools, they now have a much bigger ratio of disadvantaged, behavioural, etc. kids than the French programs do. The schools are being accused of entrenching inequality. As one immersion advocate told Maclean’s, “If we’re going to offer this program, how can we justify it if we don’t give kids – from whatever background – the tools they need to succeed?”

What to do? Some school boards (Ottawa-Carleton, for example) have decided that the answer is to give everybody a little bit of French immersion in kindergarten, to see if they like it. The students will be only semi-immersed. But at least everyone will be equal.

French immersion was born during the age of Trudeau the First. The vision was of a bilingual nation, where citizens would be fluent in a second language. It was both inspiring and patriotic – part of a nation-building effort that would bind us together and broaden our horizons. Most Europeans manage to speak at least two languages, so why can’t we? On top of that, research seemed to show that speaking a second language has significant cognitive benefits. Bilingualism makes you smarter! Today, the idea of French immersion as a magic smart pill is virtually unquestioned.

Sadly, there’s not the slightest shred of evidence that French immersion has accomplished any of its lofty goals. After 40 years of ever-expanding immersion programs, the percentage of Canadians who can speak both official languages has dropped. At two of the Greater Toronto Area’s largest school boards, half of French-immersion students bail out by Grade 8. By the time they graduate high school, only 10 per cent achieve proficiency in French (which is not the same as fluency).

The reasons for this miserable success rate are no mystery. Their entire world outside the classroom immerses kids in English. They play in English. They live in English. Everybody they know speaks English. If you want them to be bilingual, you’d better take them to live in France or Quebec – or at least make sure you’re married to a French speaker.

The downsides to French immersion, though seldom mentioned, are also real. Kids who struggle with English will also struggle with French – and who needs that? Dual-track schools create separation, not cohesion – immigrant kids (who normally do not enroll) against Canadian-born ones, girls against boys (many of whom drop out). For an unvarnished account from a parent, read what Emma Waverman (who also writes a cooking column for The Globe) had to say in Today’s Parent. Among her discoveries: The programs aren’t very good. In the early years, they focus on rote memorization of vocabulary lists. Brighter kids are likely to get bored. Not all the teachers are terrific either.

Yet the dream lives on. As enrolment shrinks, school boards are desperate to keep parents happy so that they don’t defect from the public system. Like all-day kindergarten – which was also supposed to make kids smarter – French immersion turns out to be too good to be true. But too many people have too much invested in it to say so.


Subject: Mississauga school mulls conversion to French immersion, forcing English students elsewhere - The Globe and Mail

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/mississauga-school-mulls-conversion-to-french-immersion-forcing-english-studentselsewhere/article33544187/

The French immersion program at Mineola Public School caters to families looking to give their children a competitive edge or fluency in a second language

Caroline Alphonso

EDUCATION REPORTERThe Globe and Mail Last updated: Monday, Jan. 09, 2017 12:25PM EST

Mariana Taylor, a mother of two young children, has attended school meetings and has spoken to neighbours and parents rallying to their common cause. She has posted a sign on the front lawn of her Mississauga home: “S.O.S. SAVE OUR SCHOOL.”

But her school is not being closed.

Instead, Ms. Taylor is facing down the possibility that Mineola Public School could be converted into a French-immersion-only school, meaning her children – students in the regular English stream – would have to go elsewhere and would no longer be able to walk to their neighbourhood school.

“I think it’s alarmed a lot of parents, because we have all this uncertainty of what the future holds,” she said.

Her worries are felt by other families in many parts of the country.

French immersion is popular – enrolment climbed about 41 per cent between 2004-05 and 2014-15, according to Statistics Canada. It is also a continuing challenge for school boards, who have been overwhelmed by the interest. The New Brunswick government recently announced that it would move early entry into French immersion to Grade 1 from Grade 3, fulfilling an election promise. In some districts in British Columbia, parents line up outside school doors to ensure that their children can get a spot in the program. And some Ontario boards have put a lottery system in place to contain the exploding growth, with the unlucky forced to spend the school year in English-only classrooms.

French immersion enrolment levels by province

Ontario

British Columbia

Alberta

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: Canadian parents for french; note: by academic year end

Year

Ontario

British Columbia

Alberta

2011-01-01

7.9

8.3

5.9

2012-01-01

8.5

8.2

6.6

2013-01-01

9.1

8.5

6.7

2014-01-01

9.8

9.0

6.6

2015-01-01

10.5

9.2

6.7

French immersion enrolment levels by province

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https://s3.amazonaws.com/chartstg/DALBpD3sxqsP8DbJe/thumbnail.png

But as the program has become the preferred destination for families looking to give their children a competitive edge or fluency in a second language, it has also gutted the regular English program.

Mineola is a small school. About three-quarters of its students are enrolled in French immersion, 60 of them in Grade 1. There are only two students in the Grade 1 English stream. One of them is Ms. Taylor’s son, six-year-old Cameron. He’s in a split classroom, sharing space with Grade 2 and 3 students. Ms. Taylor said Cameron struggled in reading and writing and staying in the English program has benefited him.

Minneola Public School enrolment, incl. 2017-21 projections

French immersion

English track

Year

French immersion

English track

2012-01-01

311

113

2013-01-01

353

95

2014-01-01

352

94

2015-01-01

328

105

2016-01-01

313

101

2017-01-01

312

95

2018-01-01

312

84

2019-01-01

296

72

2020-01-01

295

73

2021-01-01

293

67

Minneola Public School enrolment, incl. 2017-21 projections

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https://s3.amazonaws.com/chartstg/H7g9ddnjd7BfAbmAj/thumbnail.png

One Ontario school board trustee says the problem is so acute that the provincial government needs to step in. Unlike most other provinces, Ontario allows school boards to decide when to start French immersion. Most boards offer it in kindergarten or Grade 1.

Minneola Public School, Grade 1 enrolment, incl. 2017-21 projections

French immersion

English track

Year

French immersion

English track

2012-01-01

73

5

2013-01-01

83

9

2014-01-01

60

6

2015-01-01

60

4

2016-01-01

60

2

2017-01-01

60

2

2018-01-01

60

3

2019-01-01

60

3

2020-01-01

60

3

2021-01-01

60

3

Minneola Public School, Grade 1 enrolment, incl. 2017-21 projections

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But the Halton District School Board, west of Toronto, recently voted to delay entry to Grade 2 so parents can take an extra year to decide if it’s the right fit for their child. The board also hopes the move will help manage the growth over time.

Joanna Oliver, a trustee in Halton, says the Ministry of Education could create policy on when the program should start and how it should be delivered. As it stands now, principals struggle to find experienced teachers to satisfy the demand while trying to keep the English program viable.

“The Ministry of Education is responsible for development of the curriculum, including how much time is spent on numeracy and literacy per day. I think there is a role and opportunity for the Ministry of Education to set out a framework for French immersion,” Ms. Oliver said.

But Heather Irwin, a spokeswoman for the ministry, said the government has no plans to get involved.

“When it comes to making decisions about optional programming, including the provision of French immersion, we believe our school boards are in the best position to make decisions that support local needs,” she said in an e-mail.

The lack of provincial direction has resulted in school districts being left to “experiment” with how to deliver the program, Ms. Oliver said.

The Peel District School Board, to which Mineola belongs, took the controversial step four years ago to cap French immersion at 25 per cent of Grade 1 enrolment and to use a lottery system when the number of students applying for the program exceeds the available spots at a particular school. The measures were put in place because the board struggled to find enough French-speaking teachers to meet the high demand.

Janet McDougald, the board chair and school trustee for Mineola, said Peel is reviewing the policy, with a report expected at the end of 2017.

The review could affect Mineola, she added.

Ms. McDougald said she understands that parents want to keep their neighbourhood school, but with so few families choosing the English stream, the board struggles to provide staffing and resources for such a small number of children. School boards receive per-pupil funding from the government, and it’s more difficult to bring English resources into a school that has a large French-immersion population.

“I was hoping Mineola … parents would choose the English program to save the neighbourhood school, but currently this does not seem to be the case,” Ms. McDougald said.

This concerns Ms. Taylor. She attended Mineola and wants her children to walk to school, as well.

“It does appear that the community is speaking and we do want French. But there are a very few of us who know it’s not suitable for our children,” she said. “And I’m really alarmed by the fact that my two children may be displaced because of the issue.”


COMMENTS FROM READERS

Thanks Kim,

Whenever I meet a parent who has enrolled his child in FI, I tell him flat out that I think it's a terrible idea. Believe me, this sure gets his attention. I proceed as follows:

  1. The French language is of little practical use anywhere in the country outside Quebec, and there its use is artificially propped up by fascist nationalists. Who needs a language that cannot stand on its own?
  2. French is in decline around the world as more and more people wake up to the notion that the universal language of business is English. Not French, not Italian, not German - English.
  3. If the child intends to stay in Canada and make a success of his life, he would be far better to learn Arabic, Mandarin, Spanish, or even Russian as a second language, the better to reach beyond our borders to maximize his business/financial interests. 
  4. The language issue has always been about politics and was never about the best interests of the children: PET wanted to colonize the West and viewed the gradual imposition of bilingualism as the most practical means to do so.
  5. Bilingualism is supposed to be utilitarian; in Canada, and especially in Quebec, it is totalitarian. In my opinion, for what it's worth, more parents need to be educated about FI from this angle, as expressed in the four points above. 

Barry J.


The French realize that “bilingualism” sounds a lot less threatening to the “gullible L’anglais” and can even be stretched to the point of sounding like “fairness/equality”. Do not be fooled. It is just another way for French to dominate every waking moment and be an “essential skill” that is leveraged for economic and political control. Look at New Brunswick if you want to see what it leads to.

Neil


Comrade Unjust-in Zoolander, during his "Just Look at Me" Canadian tour, has interfered with City of Ottawa politics by saying that bilingualism SHOULD be made official in Ottawa.

MP


beyondthenews@cfra.com

I was told about your show last night (Friday 13th from 7:00 - 10:00 pm).  I just heard the podcast with the link below:

http://www.iheartradio.ca/580-cfra

Podcast - hour 2 & 3:

Brian Lilley reported that Justin said, when asked by an attendee at his meeting in Peterborough with the Liberal-supported public, that Ottawa should be made OB.

It appears that Justin is in the habit of changing his mind whenever he's confronted on any contentious issues.  The person who asked Justin that question was probably a Francophone or Francophile, one of the French minority that wants unlimited access to privilege.  Confronted by this person, Justin was unable to stick to his original statement:

http://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1006318/reactions-reponse-justin-trudeau-bilinguisme-ottawa-gatineau  

"Any decision about whether Ottawa should become officially bilingual needs to be made by municipal leaders and not by the federal government, said Trudeau."

It appears that this weak-minded "pretty boy" is unable to stay constant on any topic.

Your comments on the air about a reasonable approach to OB is worth listening to.

If you have time to reply with a short comment, I'll circulate that to the Ontario list that CLF has.  It may alert more people to tune in to your shows.

Kim


I am not bi-lingual; however, I can read road signs & make out a menu if needed. Cannot converse in French at all.

Both my children went through the French Immersion in Halton region here in Ontario. My thoughts at the time was to provide an opportunity for them should they want to work in the government.   Our Daughter went through K to Grade 12 and did quite well.  I was able to help early on with my limited French.  Her math won honors.  Today she works in a bank and has not used her French since she left high school.   I don't think she has retained much use of the language.

My son started in K but we decided to take him out for High school as he struggled with it.  He now works with me in the family business.

I would prefer to have my taxes go to better health care, education and infrastructure.  I totally agree that too much money has been wasted over the years satisfying Quebec language requirements.

It would be great if more businesses would get involved and I think they would if better informed.  We are a member of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and they have a network of businesses across Canada. Maybe you can connect with them if you haven't already.

Good luck and Keep Up the Good Fight!!

Rick - business owner


Hi Kim,

It still gets down to how useful is French to the average Canadian? and if the governments of all levels want to talk nonsense about “bilingualism”, which means two, then where are the schools in Quebec where children are taught in English only?  I can guarantee 100% that it is more beneficial for those kids to know English to function in today’s world than it is for the ROC’s students to know French.  We have so many languages here, and it is good to be able to speak more than one, that promoting only 1 language, which is a minority and a proven failed social engineering experiment, is a waste of our education dollars;  a waste of value regarding outcomes for our students;  a failure to recognize that it is time for some common sense.  The pushers and followers of french immersion are not showing much intelligence themselves but rather an agenda regardless of its success.  That makes no sense.  

When Wally, my husband, was teaching in the 70’s in Calgary the french teachers arrived, schools were given more money to teach french, and the staff rooms were divided.  The french were so uppity and would not rub shoulders with the other teachers.  Only the brightest were accepted into the French classes leaving the English speaking classes with the problem kids, the learning disability kids, the average kids.  It was divisive and discriminatory and still is.  With our health care the unions don’t want any 2-tier deals going on but they sure don’t mind dividing our education levels. 

It blows me away that NB functions the way it does.  They are broke but spend money on french while 70% are English speaking.  They have 2 systems for bussing students.  A bus will go by carrying one student and refuse to pick up another standing in the cold because he/she is from the other system.  Ridiculous.  The french have lost it, they are imbeciles at this point.  Regular people do not act this way.

Try to enjoy your day

Kathy in Red Deer


Thanks, Kim, this is very timely for us. French Immersion is returning to Grade 1 and is being PUSHED by the Gallant government. Enrollment is down over 30% from last year and a Protest is planned at the Legislature Building in Fredericton on January 31st to “take Education back from Politicians”. Teachers, retired teachers, parents (and the Opposition Leader and People’s Alliance are all against it) … but Gallant pushes on! We’re hoping we can shame them with statistics, etc. to change their mind!

Claire

 



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