Alberta Education Minister and Red Deer North MLA Adriana LaGrange says 360 teachers and some 7,800 students in Alberta are piloting the new K-6 curriculum. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff)

Alberta Education Minister and Red Deer North MLA Adriana LaGrange says 360 teachers and some 7,800 students in Alberta are piloting the new K-6 curriculum. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff)

Alberta’s Education Minister has ‘safety concerns’ for schools that are piloting new curriculum

LaGrange defends low school participation in pilot

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said safety concerns are keeping her from revealing which two per cent of Alberta schools are piloting her contentious new curriculum.

“It has been hyper politicized and I worry for the safety” of participating teachers and students, said LaGrange, who answered media questions while attending an unrelated funding announcement in Red Deer on Monday.

The minister and Red Deer North MLA said 360 teachers and some 7,800 students in Alberta are piloting the new K to Grade 6 curriculum and she looks forward to hearing what they will have to say. “It will be beneficial.”

While only two per cent of all Alberta schools have agreed to test out the new proposed elementary school curriculum, LaGrange provided reassurance that a broad cross-section of responses will still be obtained by her department.

“There are schools from across the province, urban and rural, and students from across the province… we will also be getting feedback from surveys and webinars and engagement sessions involving francophone and First Nations” people, as well as members of the College of Alberta School Superintendent and Alberta School Boards Association, she added.

Although no francophone schools have officially offered to test the new curriculum, some French language educators agreed to do a “deep dive” into what’s being offered and will give feedback, LaGrange said.

When asked whether the modest sampling obtained through the pilot will be reflective of Alberta perspectives, LaGrange responded that she had initially hoped to be able to pilot the new curriculum in more schools — but two per cent is more than the zero per cent that piloted past curriculum changes. “It works out to be 200 per cent more than it was piloted in the past,” she added.

Educators have noted, however, that past Alberta curriculum changes were not as wide-reaching as this latest re-write — which is being slammed for being Eurocentric, dismissive of Indigenous perspectives, grade-inappropriate, and focused on rote memorization.

About 61 school boards across Alberta have refused to pilot the revised curriculum — including both Red Deer Public Schools, and Catholic Regional Schools — of which LaGrange was the former chair.

Edmonton Public Schools called for a non-confidence vote on the curriculum at the Alberta School Boards Association meeting earlier this year. Teachers overwhelmingly voted against the changed curriculum in an Alberta Teachers’ Association survey. Alberta Retired Teachers’ Association called for a rewrite, along with First Nation and Métis populations. And francophones have stated the draft is an attempt to assimilate their culture.

Many parents are also objecting to what they’ve called inaccurate depictions and out-dated concepts.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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