A student does work in Cremona, Alta., on Monday, March 23, 2020, amid a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. A group representing Alberta teachers has released a review of the government's proposed kindergarten to Grade 6 curriculum that is rekindling fierce opposition to the plan.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

‘Laundry list of facts’: Alberta teachers group revives school curriculum criticism

‘Laundry list of facts’: Alberta teachers group revives school curriculum criticism

EDMONTON — The Alberta Teachers’ Association is inviting the minister of education to meet to go over a report containing fierce opposition to the government’s proposed curriculum for kindergarten to Grade 6 students.

Association president Jason Schilling said his group surveyed more than 6,500 teachers and school leaders about what he called the bungled curriculum draft. He said there is a moral imperative for the United Conservative government to hear the concerns the review gathered.

“Premier Kenny and his colleagues like to say their policies are a result of listening to what Albertans told them, loud and clear,” Schilling said during a news conference Wednesday.

“The government has been told loudly and clearly by people across the province that this curriculum is unacceptable. I want to sit down with the minister, go over the report … put a moratorium on the curriculum as it is right now, go back to the table, and do a fresh start on this.”

The report says teachers responded to open-ended questions about the curriculum, including whether the content for math, science, English and history classes is age appropriate.

It says 95 per cent of teachers and other school leaders surveyed said it isn’t.

“The subject overviews contain none of the information teachers require and, instead, read like communication tools,” the report says.

It says teachers found the proposed curriculum skews toward Eurocentric history, is full of jargon, doesn’t teach students critical thinking skills and lacks accurate Indigenous perspectives. For example, it refers to First Nations, Inuit and Métis only in the past tense. Teachers surveyed said it reads like a curriculum from the 1950s and lacks a clear vision and goal.

These are just some examples, Schilling said.

The report includes similar concerns hundreds of Alberta teachers raised in March when the draft curriculum was first released.

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said the report will be carefully considered.

“(Some) 380 teachers are currently piloting draft curriculum content and will be able to provide valuable in-classroom feedback. Teachers have and will continue to be involved in every step of the way as we continue the year-long review process,” said spokeswoman Nicole Sparrow.

Schilling said it was important to survey teachers as soon as the curriculum was published, because their voice was not included when it was first drafted. He said an earlier review by the government before the curriculum was published heard from 130 teachers.

He criticized the government for censoring details of what the review found and noted that reviewers were asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

“It is clear that the content included in this (curriculum) was not written by teachers and did not incorporate their views. Frankly, that is fundamentally why they’ve got so many things wrong.”

Jaquie Skytt, lead author of the association’s report, said teachers were emotional and fearful about the future of students.

“This curriculum is lacking the foundational elements that teachers need to plan for instruction. There is no rationale, no philosophy, no principles of learning, no goals, no scope and sequence, and the learning outcomes do not articulate what students must know and be able to do without these elements,” she said.

“The curriculum reads like a laundry list of facts, with no rhyme or reason.”

Schilling said throughout September, Albertans have neither seen “communication and transparency from the government on where they are right now in terms of the field-testing process” in some schools and grades nor the outcomes.

The Opposition NDP said the review gives the curriculum a failing grade.

“The review concludes that, ‘racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry have not been addressed and, in fact, the curriculum language promotes racism, sexism and bigotry,’” education critic Sarah Hoffman said in a statement.

“Jason Kenney’s draft curriculum for K through 6 is not just a disaster, it is dangerous.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press

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