Saturday, March 15, 2008

If you don't believe Lamrock - Just ask the Opposition

Since being elected in 2003, I have heard some strange arguments during debate inside the Legislature about policy and decisions governments make but yesterday's exchange between Kelly Lamrock, Minister of Education and Mike Olscamp, the MLA for Tantramar just about summed it up for me on the effectiveness of the French Second Language Program in New Brunswick.

March 14, 2008 Not finalized / Non finalisé le 14 mars 2008

Mr. Olscamp: Yesterday, the Minister of Education mentioned many times that the early immersion program was responsible for streaming. I do not disagree that streaming contributed to difficult situations in the core program. As a teacher in the core program, I received some of the toughest kids who ever went through Tantramar High, I can assure you. I think that, because I believed in them, I was able to deliver a half-decent program. I never expected the core kids to achieve at the same level as the immersion kids. I can assure the Minister of Education and anyone who is listening that the early immersion students I taught in Grades 10, 11, and 12 could sit and converse with me on almost any subject, for almost any given period of time.

Mr. Minister of Education, my question to you is this: Is this business of streaming a precursor to an eventual homogeneous high school curriculum, a one-size-fits-all program for subjects like math, physics, social sciences, and history?

Mr. Speaker: Time.

Hon. Mr. Lamrock:
I think perhaps the statement that worries me is when the member for
Tantramar says that he did not expect the core students to perform like the immersion students. That is the problem.
We have had streaming for so long that we have come to believe that one system is the place where you go to fail. If there was ever an eloquent testimony to why the previous government was wrong to ignore this problem, you have just heard it. You have heard somebody say that we do not even expect students in the core program to do as well as those in the immersion program.

This team differs. We expect all kids to succeed in New Brunswick, because this team will never accept the discrimination of low expectations. If we have been streaming kids into one program for so long that we have stopped believing any of them can perform, maybe that is why we have been left last in literacy, last in math, last in science. We left too many kids waiting for help.

Mr. Olscamp: I never indicated for one minute that those children could not achieve. With your inexperience in the classroom, you lead people to believe, or at least to get the impression, that all kids can achieve at the same level. That is not the case. The core program, when well presented, allows those children with difficulties to reach a level that is their level.

Young children, or people, just like water, seek their own level. The last thing . . . I challenge
anyone in this House to stand up and tell me that they are bilingual.
We are the decision makers in this House. My experience, from listening, is that there are very few “bilingual” people in this House, but everyone can communicate in both languages. I understand them.

What are your thoughts?


NB said...

Well, to be honest, Mr. Olscamp is right on the money. It is not as much about the failure of the core program (and education) as it is about the failure of governments in our province to put forth the right policies that would make us more competitive (in comparison to other jurisdictions).

I think Olscamp has even championed that line with regards to the delivery of trades in our school system?

I mean let's face it, I can name at least 250 people off the top of my head who I went to school with and have made it big (executives, lawyers, entrepreneurs, CEOs, etc.), unfortunately just not in our province.

Take my brother as an example, he went through the core academic program. What is he doing now?

He's a top flight electrical engineer, and is now pulling in just under a million per year with Cisco systems in Ottawa. Which makes me wonder, how many more are there out there like my brother? Hundreds? Thousands?

So really, it's not as much about the delivery of education as it is about the lack of effort, by government, to nurture a competitive economic climate (i.e. the retention of our quality students via a strong economy).

Plus, just think of how much revenue has been lost in the last 40 years due to outmigration of our best and brightest, not to mention, the billions our province invested in them at both the public school and university level. It's frightening just to think about it.

mikel said...

Lamrock: "We expect all kids to succeed in New Brunswick, because this team

"will never accept the discrimination of low expectations""

From the UNBSJ/MtA report:

"The Minister has said that his goal is for 70% of students in the province to communicate effectively in French. He has set this level at intermediate proficiency. Intermediate proficiency is defined as follows on the Department of Education website:

Able to satisfy routine social demands and limited work requirements.

Can handle routine work-related interactions that are limited in scope.

The individual can get the gist of most everyday conversations but has some difficulty understanding native speakers in situations that require specialized or sophisticated knowledge.

The individual's utterances are minimally cohesive.

Linguistic structure is usually not very elaborate and not thoroughly controlled;

errors are frequent.

Vocabulary use is appropriate for high-frequency utterances, but unusual or imprecise elsewhere.

Eugene said...

What do I think? I think that spin has reached an all time low when someone uses the term "discrimination of low expectations" as a synonym for reality. Explain again how the acceptance that some kids will struggle with, while others will exceed, curriculum goals has anything to do with the effectiveness of French language instruction?

If you honestly believe the new programs are better, why have the stated goals been downgraded to intermediate/intermediate plus instead of the advanced standing expected from the EI program?

If you honestly believe there are negative issues with streaming, why does to government continue to promote differentiation in the classroom? Isn't this the same thing?