The new school year begins soon for Red Deer and central Alberta students. (Contributed image from Red Deer Public Schools)

The new school year begins soon for Red Deer and central Alberta students. (Contributed image from Red Deer Public Schools)

Concerns continue regarding Alberta’s controversial curriculum

Some students will be introduced to new curriculum this fall

Critics of Alberta’s new elementary school curriculum say they can relate to the frustration of many municipalities opposed to a provincial police force.

Recently, Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro outlined the government’s blueprint for provincial police in rural areas despite the concerns of rural municipalities.

Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) president Jason Schilling said the province is also dead set on its new curriculum regardless of how many people have raised concerns.

“You’ve had tens of thousands of Albertans, teachers, university profs, parents, community members saying we don’t want this curriculum, and the government is just pushing ahead with it regardless of what they’ve heard. I definitely saw the parallels between those two things,” said Schilling about the province’s focus on a new curriculum and a provincial police force.

In September, kindergarten to Grade 3 students will learn new mathematics and English language arts and literature curriculum, while all kindergarten to Grade 6 students will learn from a new physical education and wellness curriculum.

It’s the first phase of the new kindergarten to Grade 6 curriculum.

Related:

New elementary curriculum ready for Alberta classrooms in September

Taylor Schroeter, with the Facebook group Albertans Reject Curriculum Draft, also saw similarities with the plans for the police.

“It’s a very loud voice opposing (a provincial police force), and they just keep smiling and nodding like everything is fine and everyone is happy with it, and that’s not the case,” Schroeter said.

She said when it comes to the curriculum, parents feel snubbed.

“The government is ignoring us entirely. They are not acknowledging our concerns. It’s extremely frustrating.”

Alberta Education spokesperson Katherine Stavropoulos said school divisions and staff have been preparing to implement the new curriculum since they were announced in March, and updated drafts were released April 13.

“Alberta’s government remains committed to helping ensure elementary teachers are prepared to teach the new curriculum this fall,” Stavropoulos said.

“In 2022-23, $59 million is being invested in teacher professional learning and learning and teaching resources to make sure teachers and students are equipped for the updated K-6 curriculum in classrooms. This funding is part of a $191-million investment over three years to support curriculum implementation across the province.”

She said about $20 million was provided for teacher professional learning and release time for new curriculum implementation in 2022-23, and was allocated to school authorities based on a rate of $800 per implementing teacher.

Alberta Education also released a series of on-demand video resources to support learning opportunities for teachers.

Schilling said teachers have indicated through an ATA survey that they are anxious about implementing a new curriculum while some students need to catch up after more than two years of COVID-19 and the lack of time teachers had to prepare to teach something new.

He said there has been a lack of consultation with teachers on curriculum development and how it will be rolled out. No ATA representatives were invited to be on the government’s Curriculum Implementation Advisory Board.

“These teachers working with this new curriculum are the ones that have to implement it, and work with it, and have been thoroughly ignored. I’m hoping government and school boards will provide the support that teachers need,” Schilling said.

Related:

More draft curriculum heading to Alberta schools for classroom pilot

Stavropoulos explained a balanced and measured approach is being used to implement the new curriculum based on insight and advice from the Curriculum Implementation Advisory Group and feedback from other education partners, including current classroom elementary school teachers, an elementary school principal, representatives from the College of Alberta School Superintendents, the Alberta School Boards Association and the Association of Independent Schools and Colleges in Alberta, who in turn each engaged with their members.

“The advisory group members all have extensive qualifications, expertise and experience working within the education system. We have also been working closely with school authorities who are supporting their teachers to prepare.”

Schroeter said the province has not been forthcoming on the feedback it has received. The new school year starts soon and concerned parents are not going away.

“Everybody is kind of bracing for impact,” she said.

Stavropoulos explained that renewing Alberta’s curriculum to emphasize the literacy and numeracy learning foundations, and outcomes students need for rich personal and working lives, is a key commitment government made to parents and students.

When the draft K-6 curriculum was released in March 2021, the government committed to a transparent and open year-long review process for the curriculum and that promise was kept.

“We listened to feedback on the draft from Albertans including parents, teachers, piloting school authorities and other education partners,” she said.

“Feedback from all engagement opportunities and classroom piloting informed the final K-6 Mathematics, English Language Arts and Literature, and Physical Education and Wellness curriculums.”



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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