Education lawyers have called on the province to scrap the new draft curriculum

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Protesters in Calgary have called for the complete abolition of the province’s restructured K-6 draft curriculum as opposition to partial implementation gains steam the following year.

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Members of the Alberta Teachers Association and Support Hour Students Alberta held an education rally outside the McDougall Center on Saturday when the province announced plans to delay parts of the draft curriculum. Teachers, education lawyers and parents who were present said the whole draft should be removed.

“It is not surprising that this deeply flawed process resulted in a deeply flawed product. The draft curriculum does not have the support of teachers and administrators in the province,” Jason Schilling, president of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, told about 80 people at the rally.

“And let me be clear, this tiny, tiny change that the government announced this week will not fix this draft. This draft cannot be fixed. It must be scrapped, it’s time to dump the draft. “

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Alberta Education Minister Adriana Lagrange announced changes to the rollout of the draft K-6 curriculum on 13 December.

In an emailed statement Saturday, Alberta Education Press Secretary Nicole Sparrow said the government was following the draft curriculum with a promise to listen to Albertans.

“With changes to the implementation timeline, changes in content on four topics and a new social studies blueprint, we are following through on our commitment to provide a modern curriculum as well as hear feedback from Albertan and education stakeholders,” he wrote.

Instead of launching province-wide, three issues will be introduced in phases in September Mathematics, physical education and wellness and English. Other topics, including Fine Arts, French Language Arts, French Immersion Language Arts, and Science, will be pushed back in line with the new drafts expected this spring.

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SOS Alberta and ATA hosted an educational rally on Saturday, December 18, 2021 at the McDougall Center in Calgary.
SOS Alberta and ATA hosted an educational rally on Saturday, December 18, 2021 at the McDougall Center in Calgary. Photo by Darren Makovichuk /Darren Makovichuk / Postmedia

The new social studies course, which has been widely criticized by parents, teachers and experts for being racist and age-appropriate, will be revised on a blueprint basis to restructure the content.

LaGrange said the ministry had heard “loud and clear” from teachers that it was not possible to launch the full draft curriculum by next autumn due to work pressure and resource constraints from the epidemic. However, LaGrange said he believes that delaying the course altogether “will not be in the best interests of the students.”

The Calgary Board of Education United said in a December 15 letter to the Conservative government that more time was needed to implement these three issues next autumn. Content is not developmentally appropriate, lacks logical sequencing and critical thinking, and has vague evaluation expectations according to the letter.

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The Board has reaffirmed its support for the Alberta School Board Association Resolution for the Second Amendment in phases by 2024.

The protest comes a day after the Northwest Territories government announced it would not use Alberta’s new curriculum, ending a 40-year partnership.

In a press release, the NWT government said the decision was the result of extensive research, analysis and more than 40 consultations and engagement sessions with tribal governments, educational institutions, the Northwest Territory Teachers Association (NWTTA) and academics.

Sparrow said in an emailed statement that while the decision was “unfortunate”, the province could understand their decision to partner with a province with a “final curriculum”.

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SOS Alberta and ATA hosted an educational rally on Saturday, December 18, 2021 at the McDougall Center in Calgary.
SOS Alberta and ATA hosted an educational rally on Saturday, December 18, 2021 at the McDougall Center in Calgary. Photo by Darren Makovichuk /Darren Makovichuk / Postmedia

According to the province, 360 teachers and 7,800 students are currently testing draft K-6 content in elementary classrooms across Alberta. The province did not answer questions about how many schools or which schools run the curriculum.

‘It was just a nightmare all the way’

Since LaGrange unveiled details of the draft curriculum this past week, the province has come under fire for criticism, with stakeholders saying it is not age-appropriate, focusing too much on memorizing random information and paying too little respect to Canadian aboriginal and Francophone history.

An ATA poll published in April found that 91 percent of teachers surveyed were dissatisfied with the draft curriculum, while 90 percent of primary school teachers and 95 percent of head teachers did not feel comfortable supporting their school curriculum.

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John Williamson, who teaches with the Calgary Catholic School District and participated in the review of the draft with 100 other disciplinary experts, said the teachers found multiple problems.

These included the lack of mention of LGBTQ + people, the misleading explanation of consent, and the emphasis on calorie counting in health and wellness courses.

“Then through social studies, we found that the curriculum recognized Indigenous and racist people as ‘other’ than Canadians. The Department of Religion favored Christianity more than any other religion. From an inclusion and diversity perspective, it was just a nightmare. “

Rosman Valencia, a teacher at CBE, says the draft of the K-4 curriculum introduced by NDP in 2018 is not perfect but it can work.

“As an immigrant, as a teacher, (the draft) is the first time I’ve seen myself included in the curriculum,” Valencia said. “The curriculum we need should be focused not only on resilience-building, but also on equity. And it doesn’t represent the proposed draft curriculum right now. “

bgervais@postmedia.com

Twitter: RitBrittGervaisAB

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