Senior New Brunswick education official fired

The deputy education minister for English schools has been fired as the Higgs government continues its controversial campaign to replace French immersion with a new model in less than 10 months.

An internal memo to deputy ministers from Clerk of the Executive Council Cheryl Hansen, Head of the Civil Service, confirms that George Daley is “leaving the department”.

He was replaced by his predecessor, John McLaughlin, who retired the day Daley was appointed three years ago this week.

The Ministry of Education has two deputy ministers, one for the English school system and one for the French system.

In a statement to CBC News, Premier Blaine Higgs thanked Daley for “the valuable contribution he made in his role during the pandemic,” but did not explain why he fired him.

“We remain committed to creating a world-class education system and helping more students in the English-speaking sector reach their full potential,” Higgs said.

Daley was replaced by his predecessor, John McLaughlin, who retired the day Daley was appointed three years ago this week. (Radio Canada)

Daley’s dismissal follows the resignation of Education Minister Dominic Cardy last month.

Cardy cited a series of concerns about Prime Minister Blaine Higgs’ leadership when he resigned, but said the premier’s push to replace immersion by next fall was the last straw. The ministry had set a September 2024 deadline for a new French as a second language program.

In her resignation letter, Cardy accused Higgs of shouting “data, my ass!” to “a senior official” who presented him with statistics he did not like.

Cardy confirmed on Wednesday that the official was Daley. He said the dismissal is another reflection of Higgs ignoring evidence and expert advice on the matter.

“To see this politicization of education again, by someone who was elected promising to end it, is absolutely devastating, and it must stop,” he said.

Daley, a former teacher, vice-principal and president of the New Brunswick Teachers’ Association, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

The Ministry of Education has two deputy ministers, Marcel Lavoie, left, for the French system and, until this week, Daley, for the English system. (Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick)

Liberal Leader Susan Holt said in a tweet that she was concerned that “all of this upheaval…will harm our students, teachers, department staff and school system. Hoping for some transparency on these decisions.”

The memo says McLaughlin will serve as acting deputy minister.

McLaughlin co-authored an independent report released in February that recommended replacing immersion with a program for all students, aimed at helping them reach a conversational level in French.

He and co-commissioner Yvette Finn, however, warned the government should approach the recommendations with caution and said a new scheme required “careful planning” and could take “a number of years” to be fully implemented. work.

Instead, Higgs insisted the new model be in place next fall.

Education Minister Bill Hogan said students already in French immersion will be allowed to complete the program, with the new model being phased in from year to year.

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