The Calgary Board of Education is the latest in a string of Alberta school districts that won’t pilot the UCP government’s new draft curriculum, released March 29, in its K-6 classrooms.
In a statement on Friday afternoon, the CBE said after carefully reviewing the curriculum and “current realities within our system,” it decided not to participate in the program, which is planned for Fall 2021.
“While we appreciate the government’s intention to redesign the curriculum for the benefit of student learning, we have concerns similar to those expressed by educators, academic staff, parents and community members,” the CBE said.
“As the largest public school board in Alberta, we believe it is vitally important to provide Alberta Education with feedback on the draft curriculum.
“In the fall, we will gather meaningful feedback through focus groups with classroom teachers and curriculum specialists.”
The CBE also encouraged staff, parents and guardians as well as community members to give feedback to the government online.
The CBE joins major districts including Edmonton Public Schools, St. Albert Public Schools and the Lethbridge School District, which have said they won’t pilot the curriculum in their classrooms this fall.
Earlier on Friday, the Alberta Teachers’ Association said 91 per cent of its educators were opposed to the draft curriculum, and following a “deep dive,” found “very quickly that this curriculum is not age or grade appropriate.”
“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 said.
Several community groups have also voiced their concerns with the curriculum and its contents, including the Metis Nation of Alberta, which said it had “several concerns” with the proposed teaching guide for Alberta students.
“For there to be true inclusivity in the curriculum, representation from many voices must exist at every level of the curriculum-making process and that includes Métis voices,” MNA president Audrey Poitras said at the end of March.
“Our citizens were shocked, and we are disheartened, to see our input and collaboration reduced to nothing more than a side-note in the draft that was presented to the public.”
Critics have taken issue with many aspects of the draft curriculum, including the social studies, religion and Indigenous history components.
One academic also found parts of the curriculum had been plagiarized from sources without crediting them, including a definition of “adventurous play,” which she believes was lifted from a Vancouver-area recreation centre’s website, as well as descriptions in the Grade 6 social science curriculum that appears to have come from a Wikipedia page.
In an emailed statement, Opposition NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman said the UCP’s curriculum “will not prepare students for advanced education and their future careers.”
“More than 10, including three of the province’s four largest school boards, have now taken a stand against the premier’s plan for educating Alberta children,” she said.
“I hope the government will finally listen to the people of this province and put an immediate halt to the curriculum pilots. Kids deserve better.”
In Question Period on Thursday, Kenney said that there are plans to revise the draft, which was written after a robust consultation process.
“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.”
— With files from Emily Mertz, Allison Bench and Tom Vernon, Global News, and The Canadian Press