Education Minister Adriana LaGrange released draft K-6 curriculum last week. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange released draft K-6 curriculum last week. (File photo by Advocate staff)

NDP, ATA president critical of K-6 curriculum draft

Teachers have been put on the sidelines of the curriculum redesign process since August 2019 and it shows, says Alberta Teachers’ Association.

The association has launched an engagement project with active teachers to gather feedback on the proposed K-6 curriculum released last week by the UCP government.

“By disregarding the expertise and experience of teachers, the government has set up the redesign process for potential failure, something that Alberta teachers have said they do not want to see,” association president Jason Schilling said in a Facebook post Thursday.

“Teachers want a new curriculum that excites their students and engages their learning. Our current curriculum is outdated in many respects; however, we don’t modernize an outdated curriculum by including outdated thinking and research around curriculum and pedagogy.”

Several school boards not wanting to participate in the pilot for the provincial government’s K-6 curriculum draft is “no surprise,” says the Alberta NDP’s critic for education.

Sarah Hoffman said the proposed curriculum, which was introduced by Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, is a “disaster.” Edmonton Public School Board – the second-largest district in the province – recently stated it does not want to participate in piloting the curriculum.

Tens of thousands of students, parents, school board trustees, educational experts, Indigenous leaders, Métis peoples and more, have shared their deep concern with the draft released, Hoffman said Thursday.

“This draft contains outdated and offensive language, it includes unscientific views on climate change, and it puts memorizing Anglo-Saxon European and American history ahead of Indigenous history.”

Hoffman and the NDP are calling on the UCP to “go back to the drawing board and focus on preparing our students for the future, not the past.”

READ MORE: Protest against curriculum changes planned for Red Deer next week

On Tuesday, Albertans will attend events, including one in Red Deer outside of LaGrange’s constituency office, to voice concerns about the curriculum draft.

When the curriculum was released last Monday, LaGrange said it delivers on the government’s commitment to Albertans to “refocus learning on essential knowledge and skills in order to give our children the best possible chance at success.”

“Parents and teachers have waited a long time for this, and I’m pleased to say that we’ve delivered. Another promise made, promise kept,” she said.

READ MORE: Alberta plan for new K-6 school curriculum focuses on basics, practical skills

Schilling said he sees “many issues” with both the content and the validation process.

“Obviously, there are sections of the curriculum that are flawed in regards to content, scope and sequencing. There are also several issues with process.

“There is a lack of concrete answers to our questions about resources, professional development and assessment. There are even greater gaps of silence when it comes to inclusion,” he said, adding these issues could have been avoided if the government engaged with teachers in a more meaningful way.

The ATA engagement project will feature an online questionnaire open to all teachers and principals in Alberta’s public education system, including hundreds of elementary subject and grade-level specialists.

A number of round-table discussions with subject-matter and curriculum development experts will follow in late spring. The ATA will provide updates and a final report to the government and the public throughout the process.

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