The Government of Alberta is calling their new draft K-6 curriculum, released on March 29, 2021, a renewed focus on “essential knowledge and skills,” however, much of the reaction has not been positive.
Education Minister Adriana LaGrange released the new draft K-6 curriculum and development timelines for the new Grade 7-10 and Grade 11-12 curriculum.
Camrose MLA Jackie Lovely stated in a release that she welcomes the new curriculum that “gets back to basics.”
When the UCP were elected they halted the NDP’s curriculum review and launched their own Curriculum Advisory Panel in summer, 2019.
A new Ministerial Order on Student Learning was also developed.
“One of the most important issues that people brought up to me while door-knocking was how unhappy they were with the school curriculum,” said Lovely in the release.
“Our government committed to pausing the NDP’s curriculum review and broadening consultations to be open and transparent,” she said.
“We have kept that promise, and I’m very happy about the implementation of the new draft K-6 curriculum that was developed based on input from parents, education system partners and subject matter experts.”
The proposed K-6 curriculum includes four key learning themes: literacy, numeracy, citizenship and practical skills.
The curriculum aims to re-focus on the basics of reading and writing and a return to “tried and true methods” for mathematics.
“Drawing from history, geography, economics, civics, and other studies, students will develop an appreciation of how Albertans have built one of the most generous, prosperous, and diverse societies in the world,” states the release.
The UCP says the curriculum also includes aspects of climate change, renewable and non-renewable energy, Alberta and Canada’s cultural, ethnic and religious diversity, including examples of racism and discrimination, and wellness education that includes consent and sexual health content.
“It’s so important that we set our kids up for future success,” said Lovely.
“Returning to common-sense teaching methods that focus on the key knowledge and skills our students need to succeed will ensure they are well equipped for their futures.”
Months before the draft was released, there was concern about the direction it was taking.
Back in August, 2020, the Alberta Teacher’s Association (ATA) called for curriculum advisor Chris Champion and LaGrange to be dismissed.
“An advisor who has called the inclusion of First Nations perspectives in school lessons ‘a fad’ needs to be dismissed from his role in advising on Alberta’s social studies curriculum,” said ATA president Jason Schilling in a press release.
The ATA responded to the release of the draft K-12 curriculum on March 29, stating it planned on undergoing an in-depth evaluation of the proposed curriculum by education experts: teachers.
The minister plans to pilot the new curriculum in the 2021/22 school year, to which Schilling says himself, as well as nine out of 10 teachers has “serious concerns” about.
“What was released today is barely a plan, and certainly not a plan for success,” said Schilling.
The ATA says their review will include an online questionnaire open to all teachers and principals in the Alberta public school system and round-table discussions.
Updates will be provided and a final report will be given to the government and the public upon completion of the review.
The Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) is also not impressed with the draft, calling for a rewrite of the K-6 curriculum.
MNA stated it has “monumental concerns about the Euro-American colonial undertones,” in the draft.
“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,” said Audrey Poitras, president of MNA in a release.
“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. The tone of the curriculum carries a Eurocentric-American point of view that effectively eliminates the voice and history of the Métis Peoples in Alberta.”
The NDP are supporting the MNA’s call for a rewrite.
“I fully support the Métis Nation of Alberta in their call for this unacceptable curriculum to be withdrawn and rewritten,” said Sarah Hoffman, NDP critic for education, in a release.
“Albertans have found bizarre factual errors throughout this curriculum, and choices in priorities that promote European history, art, and religious traditions at the expense of the many other cultures that are fundamental to the lives of Alberta students.
“The delay and removal of Indigenous content is one of the most egregious examples of this.”
The draft K-6 curriculum is online at alberta.ca/curriculum.