Editorial: French school could be good addition to district

Canada has two official languages, French and English.

A group of parents is getting together to see if there is enough interest to open a French school in the Cowichan Valley.

This could be a great thing for our region.

Mary Dougherty, who is spearheading the effort, makes a good case for such a facility.

She is a parent who speaks French, and tried to get her children into French immersion in the district. The district uses a lottery model to decide which children will get into the limited number of immersion spaces available, and Dougherty was unlucky. She wants her children to be fluent in her native language, not just English, as they grow up. Understandably, she is concerned about them gaining and retaining proficiency if they hear English all day at school and from her husband, and French only from her at home. Realistically, here in the Cowichan Valley they will hear more English in public settings than French.

Canada has two official languages, French and English. Dougherty should have the option of her children growing up with her native language, no matter where they live in this country. She is surely not the only francophone parent in Cowichan faced with this problem.

Even a French immersion program would not give her children the same kind of French education they would get in a fully French school, and we think the lottery system for French immersion is actually the fairest way of determining who will get those spots. The previous system of having parents camping out, sometimes for several days, to try to be first in line for spaces discriminated against single, working parents, and even parents where both have to work and cannot take time off.

A totally French school would sidestep that process altogether, and we bet there are parents whose primary language is English who will be interested in such a school along with francophone parents.

We’ll have to wait and see how much interest there is in the idea, but it could be a good solution both to open up spots in the French immersion program and for those who couldn’t access it. If you’re interested, now is your chance.

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