French teachers in short supply but Chilliwack positions filled, for now

Shortage of teachers felt province wide, and parents urging government to make lasting changes

B.C. parents of French immersion students are becoming increasingly frustrated with the overall lack of teachers, and are asking the ministry of education to get moving on past promises to address the shortfall.

The Canadian Parents for French B.C. and Yukon wrote to Education Minister Rob Fleming and the media this week, calling the shortage of French teachers a “critical deficit” that’s been raised within the province for the past four years, with no action.

“Since this shortage was initially addressed, there have been no new initiatives, no new programs, and no new funding announcements to address the teacher shortage,” wrote Glyn Lewis, the group’s executive director.

In Chilliwack, all of the French immersion positions are currently covered, says Evelyn Novak, superintendent of schools. And they are already planning for next year’s addition of a Grade 5 cohort at Cheam elementary school.

“We will likely be trying to hire at least a couple of French Immersion teachers,” she adds. “We believe we are going to need to fill some French Immersion TTOCs for the fall as well.”

The district’s human resources department is already actively recruiting for those positions, and is planning to attend the Francophone Education Career Fair at the University of Ottawa in February, Novak says.

Recommendations for improvements

Some of the recommendations suggested by the Canadian Parents for French B.C. and Yukon include:

1. Collect better data on the supply and demand of K-12 teachers by teachable discipline. This would serve to strengthen the Labour Market Outlook and the Skills Blueprint.

2. Better fund the “Make A Future” arm of the Public School Employers Association. One role of an adequately funded ‘Make A Future’ could be to restart the Teacher Supply & Demand Consortium and bring together the various stakeholders on a regular basis to problem-solve the issues.

3. Work with community and education partners to better promote the teachable disciplines that are in demand to high school and post-secondary students.

4. Provide Student Loan Forgiveness to new teachers with educational backgrounds in high demand disciplines such as French, as is currently being done for teachers with a background in trades and technology.

5. Call for expanded immigration policies and programs to attract teachers and student teachers from French-speaking regions of the world.

6. Enable the transfer and recognition of French teachers from other provinces.

7. Improve subsidies for travel costs involved in French Teacher Bursaries and French Teachers Exchange programs.

8. Provide bursaries for non-French teachers wanting to become French teachers to develop French language proficiency and pedagogical skills.

9. Create incentives for teachers who may have left the French Immersion program to return to teaching in French.

10. Invest in teacher mentoring programs that focus on supporting and retaining teachers in BC schools.

11. Improve funding for French teacher training programs and for research on second language learning and teaching.


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

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Cheam elementary is home to Chilliwack’s early French immersion program.

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