NOTE: We’ve created a mailing list devoted to this issue, intended for parents that are concerned about reductions in French immersion. Sign up HERE

If you’re new here, you might want to check out our timeline and background page for what’s happened so far, and also check the media coverage page.

The below was updated June 6th

Hi all:

I just want to provide you an update on our activities last week.

Last week Monday May 29th, a small group of parents from schools around the city met with the trustee, superintendent and director of instruction for 90 minutes.  We viewed it as an opportunity to voice our concerns and get questions answered face to face.  It was a productive meeting.  Much of what has been said previously through various channels was restated.  However, some takeaways:

  • VSB is committed to the FI program as far as spaces but as far as committing to restoring those K classes in the following year, no firm commitment.  (They stated a similar commitment in their meeting with Canadian Parents for French.)
  • As far as recruitment goes, they are actively looking for opportunities to recruit teachers.  For example, new FI teachers are immediately provided continuing contracts.  There are currently multiple positions available around the city.
  • They expressed concern fairly early on after the SCC ruling that the issue of K/1 splits would impact their flexibility, they have asked for flexibility from employee unions but this has not been granted.
  • Based on his teaching experience in multi-track French immersion school, superintendent Robinson does not believe that there will be an educational impact on the children entering French immersion in Grade 1.
  • Trustee did note concern for the “community” aspect of this, ie: with an entire classroom entering later, how will this impact building a community
  • They are considering logistics of opening up French summer school to non-immersion students to provide further opportunities for students to get FI exposure.

In addition to taking them to task regarding poor communication, we also had more specific questions and received a commitment to get more detailed information to answer specific parent questions.  For Trafalgar specifically, we had the director of instruction agree to a walkaround re: enrolling space, scheduled for Friday, to look at options for classrooms at our school  (more on these below)

Last week Wednesday May 31st, a delegation of parents from schools around the city attended the VSB Committee III meeting.  These committees are an opportunity to get our concerns on the official record.  Requests made by delegations are not generally or always debated at these meetings.  20 or so parents from various schools attended in support of our delegation.  We stated our concerns about the impacts on community, teachers, parents and children.  Our ask was that all parties (in which I include employer and employees) to look for flexible solutions and to improve their communication regarding changes.

Our delegation was followed by a presentation by the director of instruction. The director spoke from slides, however, the supporting materials are available here – http://www.vsb.bc.ca/sites/default/files/17May31_op_commIII_item2.pdf .  This ties in strongly with another document, here – http://www.vsb.bc.ca/sites/default/files/17May31_op_commI_item%203.pdf  These details helped answer many questions our parents had with regards to VSB constraints and actions to date.

This is far more understandable than the previous reply we received (or at least, detailed enough to provide criticism to).

During the meeting, the trustee spoke of the SCC ruling implementation being a challenge and their commitment to “getting things right”, and that situations can continuously change.

Last week Friday June 2nd, the director of instruction met with parents and admin at Trafalgar and did a walk through of Trafalgar as well as did a classroom by classroom breakdown of the enrollment numbers.  The discussion was informative, and Trafalgar parents were able to provide some options that hadn’t previously been considered.

During the walk through, we took the opportunity to remind the director of the trustee’s commitment to getting this right and provided some creative ideas to find the space that is required.  We look to the board to do their part to listen to parents and explore all available options.

Action items

We want to continue advancing the case that our parents are passionate about restoring the removed kindergarten classes.  We will schedule a meeting with Andrew Wilkinson, the MLA for our riding, to go along with the other MLA meeting we have already conducted.  We have been asking our parents to write letters and contact key decision makers — we will make another push via our  class parents.

Original letters are often more effective, but we’ve provided contact information and some templates to provide ideas below.

We have provided a template letter attached, if you wish to use it as a base: VSB Letter Template

  • Find out who your local MLA and their leader is and contact them to ask for their support
Vancouver Point Grey david.eby.mla@leg.bc.ca Leader john.horgan.mla@leg.bc.ca
Vancouver Fairview george.heyman.mla@leg.bc.ca Leader john.horgan.mla@leg.bc.ca
Vancouver Quilchena andrew.wilkinson.mla@leg.bc.ca Leader Christy.Clark.MLA@leg.bc.ca

We have provided a template letter attached, if you wish to use it as a base: MLA Letter Template

It is worth noting that the district is intending a review of ALL choice programs next year.  As far as changes go, that may be more significant to school communities as the VSB looks at where students for choice programs come from and (presumably) tries to make the best use of their schools (rather than having some overfull and others underutilized).  This is the first big picture review in decades.

As parents we need to hold the board responsible to consult and communicate with the communities they serve.

Thanks,
Gord Lau
Trafalgar PAC co-chair