Dozens gathered along Gaetz Avenue, by the office of Red Deer-North MLA and Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, to protest the provincial government’s K-6 Draft Curriculum Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Dozens gathered along Gaetz Avenue, by the office of Red Deer-North MLA and Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, to protest the provincial government’s K-6 Draft Curriculum Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Central Albertans protest K-6 draft curriculum in Red Deer

September is too soon to implement new curriculum in Alberta schools, says a union representative for Red Deer teachers.

“We’ve had two years (of COVID-19) and now things are just getting back to normal,” said Nate Siler, president of Red Deer Local #60 of the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

“You would think (Red Deer-North MLA and Education Minister Adriana LaGrange) would go, ‘You know what, maybe I should give them a year or two to get things back in order.’ But she’s not. She’s saying this is going to be implemented.”

Siler was one of the dozens voicing their concerns about the K-6 draft curriculum Saturday afternoon at the Ditch the Draft protest along Gaetz Avenue, just outside of LaGrange’s office.

Several other Alberta cities, including Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge, hosted protests at the same time.

The Government of Alberta will implement new K-3 mathematics and English language arts and literature curriculum, as well as K-6 physical education and wellness, starting September 2022. Implementation will affect approximately 390,400 students and 37,100 teachers.

READ MORE: Updated curriculum will move forward into classrooms this fall

Siler, a counsellor at Hunting Hills High School, said teachers will receive the official curriculum May 1.

“But from everything that’s been shown in the prototypes and the drafts, it’s terrible,” he said.

“I speak on behalf of many of my colleagues who are in K-3. They are so stressed.

“We have roughly 40 working days left (this year) and two of those are days without students. So these K-3 teachers who, let’s be hypothetical, on May 1 get the new curriculum – they’re going to have roughly two days to prepare everything for September.”

Prior to working as a counsellor, Siler spent several years as a science and math teacher. He recalls implementing a new curriculum in 2003-04.

“We were given prototype textbooks for an entire year, we were given the curriculum about 16 months in advance. We had time,” he said.

“What this province is doing, is they’re essentially saying, ‘Here you go, it’s May 1. You have 20 working days, two of which are maybe P.D. (days) and we expect it to go full throttle on Sept. 1.”

Alberta ranks near the top of the list on various forms of literacy through the Programme for International Student Assessment, Siler noted.

“If we are ranked so high according to a test that compares places around the work, why are we touching our curriculum?” he asked.

Dr. Anne Irwin, a retired university professor, said she was “shocked” when she first read the K-6 draft curriculum.

“Nothing I’ve seen from their response to widespread condemnation of this curriculum has suggested that the minister or anyone in the government is listening to our concerns,” said Irwin.

“They’ve made some little tweaks and delayed part of the curriculum, but the whole thing is so fatally flawed that it’d be a travesty to impose it on our children.”

Irwin said she feels for the teachers in this situation.

“How are these teachers going to prepare for a whole new curriculum in September when it hasn’t even been trialled? The resources aren’t there. It’s a travesty. I just wish (the government) would listen,” she said.

Last month, the provincial government said it is investing $191 million over three years, including $59 million in 2022-23, for teacher professional development and learning, and teaching resources to ensure teachers and students are equipped for updated K-6 curriculum in classrooms.



sean.mcintosh@reddeeradvocate.com

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Dozens gathered along Gaetz Avenue, by the office of Red Deer-North MLA and Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, to protest the provincial government’s K-6 Draft Curriculum Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Dozens gathered along Gaetz Avenue, by the office of Red Deer-North MLA and Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, to protest the provincial government’s K-6 Draft Curriculum Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Dozens gathered along Gaetz Avenue, by the office of Red Deer-North MLA and Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, to protest the provincial government’s K-6 Draft Curriculum Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Dozens gathered along Gaetz Avenue, by the office of Red Deer-North MLA and Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, to protest the provincial government’s K-6 Draft Curriculum Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)