Thursday, May 10, 2007

Justin Trudeau is right about segregated schools

The National Post takes Justin Trudeau to task for his recent criticism of segregated schools, suggesting he read the charter of rights.

...Justin Trudeau's Friday outburst at a meeting of New Brunswick academics raises a more bizarre possibility: that even a child of the Charter's chief architect may not know what is actually in the document.

How else can one explain the incredible timing of Mr. Trudeau's rumination? If you had to choose a venue in which to suggest that the existence of separate anglophone and francophone school systems was obsolete, divisive and costly, you'd be halfcrazy to even put New Brunswick on the list. It's a place where the surviving linguistic minority was not only conquered, but terrorized and dispersed. It's the only province where linguistic equality and linguistically separate school systems are guaranteed explicitly in the Charter -- a document that devotes more of its length to language rights than it does to due process or voting.

Yet despite Trudeau's apparent ignorance of the charter's provisions on linguistic school boards in New Brunswick, fundamentally he is right. Whatever it says in the charter, segregating public school students on the basis of language is as objectionable as segregating students by race.

You can teach French in English schools and English in French schools, but most kids will finish their schooling functionally unilingual without sufficient exposure to native speakers of the language they are trying to learn. Consequently, most of the money we spend in this country on English and French second-language training is wasted.

Why not put the French and English kids together in the same school and teach them to become proficient in both French and English as Trudeau suggests?