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Here is the section

November 26, 2008

of the throne speech devoted to education, K-12 and post-secondary. I will pass over in silence the first part, except to comment, first, that District 8, which is trying to shut down two community schools, needs to be told of the government’s stated commitment to developing them. Second, I hope whomever wrote this didn’t break their fingers twisting around in an effort to avoid even one clear mention of early French immersion. But there are dedicated places to discuss the latter, so on to the speech:

The greatest commitment we can make to the future of our province is to provide New Brunswickers with the highest-quality education. Your government is committed to giving young New Brunswickers the best start in life.

This year, your government consulted with parents, educators and early childhood development experts to develop a 10-year early childhood strategy for New Brunswick entitled Be Ready for Success. New investments detailed in the Early Childhood Strategy Action Plan 2008-2009 [PDF] are being made and your government has recently issued a request for proposals for four new early childhood development centres.

Quality, integrated early childhood programs form the lifelong foundations for success for all New Brunswick children.

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Today, more New Brunswick children than ever are meeting their goals in reading and writing. Your government continues to invest in its education plan, When Kids Come First. Building on the success we have seen in the recent education results, we will continue our focus to ensure greater achievement in literacy, numeracy and science.

Since 2006, dozens of schools and teachers have benefited from the Innovative Learning Fund. Your government continues this innovation agenda by sharing the best ideas of our most creative teachers with all schools.

Your government has helped change the way children learn through community schools; places where the community works with teachers to provide hands-on, creative learning experiences. Since the release of When Kids Come First, 51 schools have been designated as community schools. Your government continues to cultivate stronger community partnerships in building strong innovative schools in our communities.

Last year, new specialists were added in the area of physical education, music and art, and new trades programs were introduced. Your government continues to build upon these programs to provide a full range of learning opportunities in every school. To help young New Brunswickers be healthy and more active, a model for 150 minutes a week of physical education and activity for all students continues to be developed.

Your government will implement a Student Code of Conduct to ensure our schools provide a feeling of security, respect for diversity and freedom from bullying and intimidation.

The Commission on Francophone Schools, chaired by Gino LeBlanc, recently concluded public consultations in all francophone school districts. The results of these consultations will be presented at a Summit on Francophone Schools in December 2008 and a report will be submitted to the Minister of Education.

Your government will respond to two recent reports of the Ombudsman, to ensure that government services are fully integrated, that government agencies are accountable for responding to the best interests of the child and that young New Brunswickers receive the supports they need.

Last year, your government signed an agreement with fourteen First Nation communities and the federal government to direct $40 million in funding towards First Nation students and to ensure collaboration between First Nations and district council leadership. The New Brunswick First Nations Enhanced Education Programs and Services agreements, designed to eliminate the student achievement gap, will be rolled out this year.

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For New Brunswickers pursuing higher learning, post-secondary education must be accessible and affordable. That’s the goal of the action plan for post-secondary education, Be Inspired. Be Ready. Be Better. [PDF] – students getting the quality education and training they need to build careers in the growing New Brunswick economy.

With 33 recommendations, the Action Plan represents the most comprehensive commitment to post-secondary education in New Brunswick in decades. It is an ambitious and essential investment in the future of New Brunswick and in its most important resource, its people.

Despite challenging financial times, your government remains committed to investing in post-secondary education. During this session, we will move forward on various key initiatives as outlined in our action plan for post-secondary education.

First and foremost, your government’s vision for post-secondary education is student-focused and this will be reflected in many of the action items initiated in the coming year. The cost of education and the long-term debt incurred by graduates are limiting post-secondary opportunities for too many New Brunswickers. Your government has assessed recent federal decisions to replace the successful Millennium Scholarships with more broadly-based financial assistance and will be responding with measures helping those students most in need of assistance.

Your government remains committed to the role played by universities in the economic, social and cultural life of our province. Working with post secondary partners, a number of important activities will be launched to ensure greater collaboration and effectiveness including boosting New Brunswick’s research and innovation capacity, increasing applied and articulated programs and creating stronger links between local communities and post-secondary institutions.

Your government will announce concrete steps to allow the New Brunswick Community College to reach its potential as a full partner with universities in the post-secondary education system. The creation of a modern autonomous college system will be initiated. At the same time, government will launch a substantial increase in college course offerings to provide New Brunswickers with more availability and more choice.

Apprenticeship Training is a tried-and-true method of preparing workers to meet the critical skill shortages of the coming years. Your government will take steps to create a more flexible and responsive apprenticeship system resulting in a substantial increase in apprenticeship registrations. In light of the Skills Summit held recently in Saint John, your government will establish a Standing Forum on Skills Development to advise the government on additional needs.

As post-secondary education is transformed, your government affirms its commitment to work towards preserving and promoting the language and culture of its two linguistic communities, the principles of linguistic duality and the legal framework regarding official languages in New Brunswick.

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