Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange defended her new elementary school curriculum on Tuesday and denied that the Northwest Territories were preparing to drop it after 40 years.
LaGrange referred to NDP’s allegations as “inaccurate speculation” that the N.W.T. government was dumping the Alberta school curriculum it’s been using for four decades because of proposed changes to reduce Indigenous content.
The Red Deer North MLA told the media at a press conference on Tuesday that she just spoke to Education Minister R. J. Simpson of the Northwest Territories about Alberta’s draft K-6 curriculum — and reassured him that reconciliation and First Nation perspectives will still be key components.
According to LaGrange, Simpson told her that the N.W.T. is nearing the end of its latest five-year agreement with Alberta, and is merely doing “a normal curriculum review,” comparing the school education plans of various provinces — including Alberta’s.
She indicated Simpson was pleased by the progress report.
Just over half of N.W.T. residents identify as Indigenous, according to the 2016 Statistics Canada census. And LaGrange stressed that there will be plenty of Indigenous material in the new education plan.
“Let me be very, very clear,” she said — the new drafted Alberta K-6 curriculum will include “a broad, inclusive account of history” from Black, Indigenous and First Nations perspectives. Anti-racism education will also be part of it, mainly through Social Studies lessons, she added.
LaGrange said she looks forward to releasing the new K-6 draft curriculum for school division and general feedback this September. “All Albertans can review it and provide input.”
Some schools will begin piloting the new draft curriculum in the fall. The minister added participating school divisions will get additional money for the “validation” or implementation process, and these resources will not come out of school budgets.
On Tuesday, LaGrange announced a new bill that, if passed, would give the College of Alberta Superintendents (CASS) more power to decide what qualifications, training and continuing education school superintendents should have. This includes quality standards and a code of conduct.
CASS president Bevan Daverne said this is something his college has been wanting for 15 years.
He believes the bill that would make college membership mandatory for superintendents, their deputies, and “central office teacher/leaders,” would “elevate the profession,” strengthen education, and provide better student outcomes.
Bill 55 would not give the college union functions, however, or the ability to engage in collective bargaining. It would make school boards the official employer of superintendents as the education minister would no longer have to approve their appointments.