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ATA says 91% of Alberta teachers against draft curriculum, doubts UCP will listen to critics

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The Alberta Teachers Association president said Friday that a huge majority of teachers are unhappy with the UCP’s draft grade school curriculum, and there are worries those concerns will go unaddressed despite a pledge from Premier Jason Kenney to make revisions.

Read more: Edmonton Public Schools will not pilot Alberta’s new K-6 curriculum

“As soon as the curriculum came out, teachers did a deep dive into looking at the matter of the content that’s in there and identified very quickly that this curriculum is not age or grade appropriate,” said Jason Schilling.

“There’s several problems with the content, and it doesn’t push students into deeper-level thinking or higher-level thinking or engage them with their learning.”

The ATA surveyed 3,500 Alberta teachers and school staff between March 29 and April 7, 2021, with results showing 91 per cent of teachers are unhappy with the UCP’s proposed K-6 curriculum.

“The survey that we did, we did it in order to capture teachers’ voices, which were not included within this curriculum development,” Schilling said.

“[The survey results are] a big red flag about this curriculum.”

Read more: Alberta’s proposed K-6 school curriculum focuses on basics, practical skills

The proposed kindergarten to Grade 6 curriculum was introduced in late March by Education Minister Adriana LaGrange and is set to be piloted in some schools this fall, although some school divisions have already said they will not be using the draft.

Click to play video: Alberta’s revamped curriculum raises questions over history, religion and equal representation

The ATA survey found that three out of four teachers are “very unhappy” with the draft. The results also showed that 90 per cent of teachers say they are uncomfortable teaching the current draft, and 95 per cent of school leaders said they would be uncomfortable supporting it.

“We’re seeing some concepts that traditionally would be in junior high in math, but down into the upper elementary school levels. And students just aren’t ready for that,” Schilling said.

Read more: Rock thrown through Alberta education minister’s office

In Question Period on Thursday, Kenney said that there are plans to revise the draft.

“This government got our marching orders from ordinary Albertans, over a million of them, who endorsed our platform that said we would put an end to the obsessive focus on the failed experiment on discovery math and inquiry learning,” Kenney said. “We’ve done that.

“We’ve brought forward a curriculum based on widespread input including from teachers, Mr. Speaker, we will make revisions based on constructive criticism.”

However, Schilling says the ATA remains concerned.

“[Kenney] will say that, but whether or not that happens is a different story,” he said Friday. “Last December about 100 teachers got to see the curriculum, but they had to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

“We don’t know what their feedback was. We don’t know if the government took their feedback into account.”

Click to play video: Albertans continue to push back against draft curriculum

The Alberta government previously had a partnership with the ATA, which was dissolved by the UCP in 2019. The previous agreement had provided teachers the opportunity to have input in the province’s curriculum.

Read more: Alberta government cancels partnership with teachers’ association

Schilling said that educators in the province are still hopeful that consulting will take place.

“We’re willing to work with government to create a curriculum that is forward thinking, that serves our students well.”

The ATA’s concerns follow a series of other issues with the UCP’s curriculum draft, including accusations of plagiarism, “monumental concerns” from First Nations, and the inclusion of the premier’s grandfather in planned Grade 6 music lessons.

Click to play video: NDP says new Alberta curriculum will be tossed if elected in 2023