The idea that parents should have choice programming within the public school system was a good one. As long as there is funding and space, “choice programming” works.
The Clark government has underfunded education, thus school boards lack money for programs and teachers and in overcrowded districts it is used to maintain and get more portables.
Surrey has over 7,000 kids in portables and by the time the new schools are built, we require new ones. Over time, many choice programs are cut or constantly moved because of lack of space or to ensure there are full classes to justify the expense. Sadly, many families are unable to drive their children to programs outside their catchment area and are disappointed when there is no choice in the neighbourhood, never mind that they moved there in the first place to attend the program.
When parents fight to keep it, they are told that the regular “neighbourhood” program takes precedence, even if the majority of parents want the choice of French. Students are asked to leave their friends or siblings if they want to continue the program. Some parents may end up driving to three schools to drop off and pick up.
The popularity of French-immersion programs remains, and studies show a second language is good for a child’s brain power. Previously, parents lined up overnight to ensure their child got in. Often, there was bitterness, since some parents simply could not afford to take the day off. It also looked bad to the public, seeing parents argue over who was first in line.
Then, placement through a phoning priority was tried.
Again, many parents waited hours only to find out they were out of luck and disappointed more so when their neighbour happened to get through. Now we have a lottery system to make the best of a bad situation.
The idea that our second official language is taught via lottery is unfair and goes against the principle of our linguistic duality. It is another example of how this government does not care about public education. More money should be given by the provincial and federal governments if citizens want to be bilingual.
It takes good government to meet the needs of their citizens and in B.C. that is lacking, so lottery it is – so sad if your ticket is not drawn.
Niovi Patsicakis, Surrey