Teachers and parents are calling on Albertans to protect education funding, address class size increases and stop controversial curriculum changes.
The Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) and Alberta School Councils’ Association (ASCA) have launched a campaign and are asking parents and the public who are concerned with the government’s changes to education to visit www.StandForEducation.ca.
Teachers say the proposed kindergarten to Grade 6 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. The curriculum reads like it’s from the 1950s.
ATA president Jason Schilling said teachers, parents, Indigenous and Francophone groups, and university professionals are concerned.
“There are a lot of voices saying you got this wrong. Can we go back and start looking at how we can get this right so we can better serve our students? And the government is not listening,” said Schilling about the curriculum that did not include input from teachers.
He said most school jurisdictions refused to pilot the curriculum, and less than 500 teachers will actually use it over the next few months.
“How do you implement a curriculum in the fall of next year that’s not been thoroughly field tested at all subject areas and all grade levels?” asked Schilling.
“They’re essentially putting curriculum into classes that’s not been tested to see if it works and that is a dangerous gamble with our students’ future.”
Alberta Education intends to implement its new elementary curriculum in 2022-23.
He said when it comes to provincial funding, educators faced a $30-million shortfall coming into the new school year. Schools with increasing enrolment are specifically not getting the provincial dollars they need because the new funding model is based on a weighted three-year average.
“Our position is a student needs funding the moment that they walk into a school and not two years down the road.”
Schilling said the province is also neglecting the issue of class size. In 2019 the province stopped collecting class size data from school boards, but the ATA’s own research shows about 25 per cent of classes have upwards of 30 to 40 students.
Alberta School Councils’ Association, which represents parents who sit on school councils across the province, says it is proud to join the ATA in calling for Albertans to fight back and stand together to protect public education.
“Funding reductions, increased class sizes, and questionable curriculum changes, are putting the learning successes of Alberta’s students at risk. Together parents and teachers share the responsibility for protecting children and preparing them for the future. We are uniting and urging all Albertans to join us,” said association president Brandi Rai.
— With files from The Canadian Press