NEWS

Quality of bilingual education a deep concern for West Island dad

10/10/2014 09:17 EDT | Updated 12/10/2014 05:59 EST
A high school ethics course that was supposed to be taught in French but was actually instructed in English has one father frustrated about the quality of his sons’ supposedly bilingual education.

Martin Roloff told CBC Daybreak on Friday that he only discovered one of his sons had been taught in English after the fact.

His three sons go to Macdonald High School in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue.

A concerned Roloff voiced his disappointment to the school and was told by school principal Jad Deegan that the situation had been rectified.

Deegan said as much to Daybreak on Friday.

"That class was certainly predominantly done in English because the teacher felt more comfortable in that language. It is the only class that I’m aware of that that happened and we’ve rectified the situation for this year," Deegan told host Mike Finnerty.

Except, according to Roloff, it hasn’t been fixed.

He said his youngest son is now being taught a French-language ethics class in English by a different teacher.

"The teacher came to my younger son in Grade 7 and said, 'Well, I’m mostly teaching in English because I’m lacking the resource material.' And then on curriculum night, he gave me the course outline and explained, 'I have a language policy. I don’t want French to be an impediment to their success in this course,'" Roloff recounted.

The father of three said the teacher told him every student should get at least an 80 per cent grade for the course. Roloff said that’s lowering educational standards.

He said there was a good reason he — like other parents who want their children to thrive in Quebec — wanted his children to be taught a French immersion curriculum, and the school is responsible to provide a quality bilingual program.

Budget constraints

Suanne Stein Day, the head of the Lester B. Pearson School Board, said she was not aware of the situation until she was copied on an email Roloff sent.

"It’s a very serious concern because we are very committed to French immersion, but we have budget constraints and staffing constraints," Stein Day told Daybreak.

She said it’s not as simple as hiring more French teachers, though.

"We are bound by collective agreements. We can’t just fire an English teacher and hire a French teacher," she said.

What they do do, Stein Day said, is hire francophones to teach immersion programs when anglophone teachers retire.

Stein Day said parents should have been informed about the language switch and the students’ transcripts should have been corrected to reflect that the course was taught in English.

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