New Brunswick: Let John Caldwell School keep EFI

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Wed May 7 14:38:04 UTC 2008

We, Citizens for Early French Immersion in Grand Falls/Grand Sault,
believe that the Early French Immersion (EFI) program should not be
eliminated from John Caldwell School (JCS) in Grand Falls for the
following reasons:

- Our school is situated in a majority French community (80 per cent)
and our facility exists as a Minority English Community School for
this North-West region of New Brunswick. There are four French sector
Elementary Schools in our town within a 6 km. radius, but John
Caldwell School is our community's only English sector school.

- If EFI is cut at JCS then many of our Anglophone parents will
attempt to enrol their children in one of our town's three French
elementary schools. This will create a significant decline in the
enrolment rates at JCS and negatively affect funding at JCS. This will
also have an effect on the Francophone sector schools, as they are not
accustomed to having significant numbers of Anglophone children in
their schools.

- Presently, we have 38 students in kindergarten and 32 of these 38
children wish to enrol in EFI. Unlike the remainder of the province,
this is an 84 per cent entry rate. Every year at JCS the enrolment
rate is between 80 to 85 per cent. The Minister of Education has
stated that province wide there is only a 20 per cent enrolment rate
in EFI.

- JCS has an extremely low drop out rate in their EFI program (only
1-2 per cent by grade 5). The Minister of Education states that 75 per
cent of EFI students drop out by grade 5 province wide. Also, at JCS
the number of students with Special Education Plans (SEPs) in the EFI
program and the English core program are quite comparable. The
Minister of Education lists one of the main reasons he is eliminating
EFI is that the stronger students enrol in EFI and the children with
special needs are left in the regular English or Core program.

- Our children need to be immersed in French early or they will not be
able to participate in community events and activities. For example,
Parks and Leisure activities in Grand Falls such as minor baseball,
hockey, and soccer are driven by volunteers and most meetings and
instructions are given in French. Our Anglophone children would feel
isolated if it were not for EFI. Under the new French Second Language
policy, our Anglophone students will not receive any French
instruction at all in school until grade 5. The government is
replacing French classes in the lower Elementary grades with extra
music, physical education, and art classes.

- Previously, our Anglophone students could learn French in school and
then actively participate in community activities. This meant they
immediately applied their new language skills outside the school
environment. This created a natural reinforcement of their second
language skills.

- Because of our rich cultural mix, JCS school has never experienced
the difficulty expressed by other jurisdictions in the province
regarding difficulty hiring competent French teachers. Much to the
contrary, immersion teachers love the dedication and support shown by
the administration at JCS for the immersion program.

- Companies such as McCain's have always been able to depend on our
EFI program as a strong point in convincing English employees to work
in Grand Falls. They have become accustomed to settling here so their
children can learn a second language to a high degree of proficiency.
Already with the announcement of its elimination, some of these young
employees are speaking of leaving the area. To preserve our economic
base we need to attract more of these people, not force them to leave.
Our area cannot promote self-sufficiency if policies that are put in
place make it less attractive for Anglophones to live in our

We are asking for a regional exemption from the new French Second
Language policy (Policy 309) for the numerous and valid points that we
stated above. We have requested to have a meeting with the Premier,
Shawn Graham, and the Minister of Education, Kelly Lamrock, to discuss
a regional exemption, with the support of our MLA, Ronald Ouellette.
Our group has been told that this meeting will take place very

We welcome and urge everyone in the community to join in our cause to
receive a regional exemption for John Caldwell School from the Liberal
government. Our group can be contacted at citizensefigf at

Citizens For early French Immersion.
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