School board trustees with Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools unanimously decided its schools in Red Deer and central Alberta will not pilot the controversial new draft curriculum for elementary students this fall.
NDP Education critic Sarah Hoffman said last night’s decision by Red Deer Catholic, the same board that Education Minister Adriana LaGrange chaired, should be a wake up call for the minister.
“That should send a very loud message to her about how the community and the schools that she worked with for so long don’t have confidence in what she’s brought forward. I think she would be wise to heed the advice of the board she was a part of, as well as the many, many, many other boards,” said Hoffman during an online press conference on Wednesday.
Two weeks ago, Red Deer Public Schools also said no to the pilot.
“As of this morning, 41 school districts representing more than 70 per cent of Alberta students have decided not to pilot this project.”
She said the criticism doesn’t stop there. Edmonton Public Schools is calling for a non-confidence vote in the curriculum at the upcoming Alberta School Boards Association meeting. Teachers have overwhelmingly voted against curriculum in an Alberta Teachers’ Association survey. Alberta Retired Teachers’ Association has called for a rewrite, along with First Nation and Métis populations. Francophones say the draft is an attempt to assimilate their culture.
LaGrange released the draft kindergarten to Grade 6 curriculum on March 29. A petition was launched April 5, and 16 days later, the Facebook group Albertans Reject Curriculum Draft had collected 11,723 signatures condemning the draft.
“We stand united to demand a curriculum for our children that is inclusive, accurate, forward thinking, relevant and age appropriate. The 11,723 signatures on these pages represent Albertans across all political backgrounds and are calling on our government to do what’s right for our children,” said Taylor Schroeter, an administrator with the Facebook page.
She said the draft has countless errors and inaccuracies, vast violations of human rights and moral standards, including plagiarism. LaGrange has said all students would see themselves reflected in the new curriculum, but Schroeter said her trans daughter certainly did not.
A pandemic is also not the time to overhaul the curriculum, she said.
“Our teachers need supports. Our teachers need resources. What we do not need is a time machine to 1950s education,” said Schroeter who also spoke at the press conference.
Recently the UCP government has come out with advertisements in support of the draft.
Schroeter said Albertans Reject Curriculum Draft has 39,600 members, and LaGrange has blinders on if she believes there is widespread approval of the curriculum.
“It is a genuine fear that a lot parents of have, that no matter what they think, or what they feel, government is going to shove this down our throats.”
LaGrange’s press secretary Nicole Sparrow said Wednesday the entire point of a pilot for the draft curriculum is to provide in-classrooms feedback to affect potential changes for the final documents.
“School divisions can opt to pilot all or some of the draft curriculum subjects (math, language arts, etc.). If some school divisions do not wish to pilot, they simply will not be able to provide direct in-classroom feedback on potential changes,” Sparrow said.
But she said all individual Albertans can provide their feedback at www.alberta.ca/curriculum-have-your-say.aspx.
Red Deer Catholic said it will undertake a comprehensive curriculum review over the coming months and share the findings and recommendations with Alberta Education.
“The review will include extensive consultations with parents, educators and members of our broader stakeholder community. We expect the final report to be released by no later than November,” said school board chair Kim Pasula.
Red Deer Catholic said it has received many concerns from teachers, students and their families in regards specifically to age and developmentally-appropriate content, the academic language related to curricular objectives, in addition to the timing of the proposed changes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The focus of the division in the fall will continue to be on the mental wellness of students, staff and families, as well as learning progressions and post-pandemic recovery in schools,” said superintendent Kathleen Finnigan.