French Immersion was and still is a bad idea

This is primarily directed to the District 73 school trustees and to the parents of the children enrolled in French Immersion. As we are now comfortably into the 2011/12 school term, it has been a year and a half since the latest re-configuration, as it affects the French/English curriculum in District 73, and I would like to discuss a few points.

French Immersion (FI) was a bad idea decades ago and it is still a bad idea today. It is expensive and illogical. The previous 'dual-school' system was functional, but barely. There were families with one or more kids enrolled in FI and families with one or more kids in the English-only program and sometimes kids from one household were in separate programs but at least they attended the same school.

With the switch to FI (only) at Lloyd George one year ago, these families were put into disarray. Imagine not being able to attend your closest neighbourhood school simply because you chose an English-only program. There are many families in the Lloyd George catchment area and throughout the city and district who will not participate în FI for a variety of reasons. Other families decided to remain at the school, in spite of the FI, but sadly for the wrong reasons.

Therefore, I must now ask the parents of the children enrolled in FI (especially Lloyd George) exactly why they chose this program. Is it because your heritage has roots in French Canada, or you imagine the benefits of having your kids learn two languages at the same time, or you never had the opportunity to experience such a unique program when you entered kindergarten or Grade 1, or you envision some special advantage for your kids after they complete high school such as employment with the federal government at Revenue or Canada Post?

Could it be as simple as residing very close to an FI school or is it merely a status thing by being proud to point out that your boy or girl speaks French? (Whoo-hoo!)

There really is a simple solution. If enough of the FI families opted out there would be diminished enrolment, hopefully enough to make the program unfeasible. As it stands today, regular teaching of French language as part of the curriculum in District 73 (English) schools begins at the 4th. grade level so, parents and trustees, why the big rush? Children do not learn at the same rate and many are incapable of absorbing two languages at such an early age. Let us level the playing field by starting everyone in an enhanced French program at the same (4th grade) level at every elementary school in the district.

I personally know of several K and grade one kids who had a very tough time in F.I. yet were promoted to next grade level. Their parents should have done the smart thing by switching to any English school.In a perfect world, Lloyd George would be that main school. Stuart Wood, already City property, can eventually become Kamloops' new museum and, if need be, Ralph Bell could be resurrected as a (private) French-only school, to accommodate the true Francophone families in this district.

But, it isn't a perfect world, is it?



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