The week before the May 2 federal election. Announcement from Calgary: dropping mandatory second language courses from grades 4 to 9. The second language could be, but need not be, French. After Grade 9, all second language courses are optional. Means that nowhere in the system is one complelled to at least try to learn French.
Newspaper headline misleading: “French classes no longer mandatory in Calgary public schools”. Looks to me that French language classes were never mandatory. Catholic system will continue to have mandatory second language classes in grades 4 to 7, with the option to continue in later grades.
One sentence tilts things for me:
…the decision does not affect (the Calgary Board of Education’s) many French immersion and bilingual programs currently offered. Public schools offer bilingual programs in Mandarin, Spanish and German.
Canada is a country with two Official Languages, not ten, or twenty. In times of fiscal constraint, there are certain language programs that should be cut first, assuming that they should have ever been funded publicly in the first place…though I always seem to be missing something, somewhere…
Postscript, May 11, 2011: Reading a news release that the Calgary Board wants to now guage public interest in establishing a publicly-funded Arabic bilingual alternative program, commencing in Kindergarten and Grade 1, as of next year.