Parents, teachers, say education treated like a political football in N.B.
A day after the auditor general released her findings on the New Brunswick education system, parents and teachers say they want education to stop being the government's political football.
“We've had 37 major changes in 35 years in New Brunswick education,” said George Daley, president of the New Brunswick Teachers Association.
Daley says teachers have raised that issue with governments over and over -- no matter their political stripe.
“Political parties use us as a football and opposition parties use us as a way to poke holes in government,” Daley said. “Because they will look at what is bad in the system and then will have the claims that the system is falling apart, when it's not. We have a strong education system, we can improve.”
The province's Auditor General said governments have made changes to the education system too often, hurting its stability.
Five education plans in 15 years and three changes to the French immersion program in a decade.
Daley says the priorities are all wrong.
“There's only so many hours in the day, right? What becomes the priority?” Daley said. “Is it the violent situation, is it the crisis situation, is it the hungry child? That's where most of my days got consumed.”
People's Alliance of New Brunswick leader Kris Austin took aim at French immersion on Wednesday.
“At some point, we've got to come to this reality is that French immersion in New Brunswick is a dismal failure,” he said. “The report today said 90 per cent are not meeting the expectations when they graduate. Look, if you fail in 90 per cent at anything else, you'd find ways either to get rid of it or change it.”
That comment that angered parent Bob Bernier.
“I would urge him to go into the classrooms and see what the students can do,” Bernier said.
Bernier is a member of Canadian Parents For French. He says the province's "targets' are the problem.
It expects students to graduate from Grade 12 with an advanced level of French.
Last year, 25.9 per cent of students achieved that level and 62.8 per cent of students achieved the intermediate or intermediate “plus” level.
That means a total of 88.7 per cent of students graduated last year with intermediate proficiency in French.
“A student at the intermediate plus level can socialize in the language,” Bernier said. “Now according to the stats in the province, this student would fail.”
Daley says that is “functional, conversational French that should be able to get you a job in almost every industry.”
Both Daley and Bernier suggest re-evaluating those expectations and not making the system itself -- the target.
One problem teachers want to tackle is attendance.There's no attendance policy in this province and Daley says there's a number of things that have be looked at there.
None of them, he reiterated, are political.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown.