by Cheryl Jackson Sunday February 27, 2011

Ottawa is unique.  It's a political town like no other, a city of affluent, highly-educated people, many of whom work, or aspire to work, in the civil service. To do that, you need to speak French and parents face huge pressure to enrol their children in French Immersion programmes. In fact, 60% of Ottawa children are in immersion. What problems does that pose for the school board here? Well, critics speculate it may have something to do with the fact that just four years ago, the Ottawa Carleton District School Board was in the bottom five Ontario boards according to EQAO scores.

We asked four very knowledgeable people to explore this issue with us.  You can find the discussion here later this week, once we edit and digitize it, but here's a glimpse pre-discussion. (Notice the broken foot - Erika Shaker was a trooper for making it in).

ottawa photo1

I asked questions that are on the minds of many parents in this town. Is French Immersion an elite programme for the smart and wealthy? What supports are there for kids who have special needs? Is there a stigma attached to choosing English-only education? (What? Your kids can't handle French?)  And what is the board doing to address the over-crowding in French Immersion schools and the low enrolment in English schools?

Give us a few days and then find the discussion right here.