Alberta government posts proposed curriculum changes online

What could soon be taught in Alberta classrooms is gaining a lot of attention outside of schools. The opposition is accusing the government of keeping the curriculum changes secret. But the NDP is revealing what they've come up with so far. Kendra Slugoski reports.

People who want to see what Alberta is doing with school curriculum changes can look for themselves online.

Education Minister David Eggen says his department has posted the raw proposals for changes to what students in kindergarten to Grade 4 are taught.

Eggen says he had hoped to polish the proposals after getting feedback from teachers, parents, and others, but says it’s best to get the existing information to the public.

READ MORE: Alberta announces sweeping 6-year overhaul of school curricula at cost of $64M

Until now, Albertans could only see the proposed changes if they went to meetings and agreed to leave behind all written material provided by organizers.

That led to confusion over what was being proposed in the first part of a sweeping multi-year curriculum overhaul.

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READ MORE: Future teachers excited about Alberta curriculum overhaul

Eggen has said any changes will continue to emphasize the fundamentals of reading, writing and math, but will also include climate change, gender diversity and sexual orientation.

There will also be renewed emphasis on the role of First Nations and francophones in Alberta and Canadian history.

LISTEN BELOW: Education minister David Eggen speaks with 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen

Eggen said some of the curriculum in schools is more than 30 years old and the consultation process started with a blank page.

“There’s no element of secrecy here, we simply wanted to have working drafts that were incorporating different layers of input,” he said.

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Eggen’s office had already begun releasing the draft proposals to the media this week to allay any public concerns. He said the next logical step was to distribute it to everyone online.

“Our intention was to have input and feedback incorporated into each draft as we moved along. It’s an organic process,” Eggen said Thursday.

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“My hope was to release it in that (refined) format, but it’s out now, so we’ll put out the working documents in their entirety.”

But Opposition Leader Jason Kenney and the UCP accused the NDP government of rewriting school curriculum in secret — but focused on proposed changes to social studies.

LISTEN: Education minister David Eggen joins Danielle Smith to discuss the proposed curriculum

Kenney accused the NDP of swapping out critical thinking and instead making students “effective agents of change,” stating students must be equipped to make their own decisions, instead of being told by the NDP what to think.

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“That’s why I’ve said from the beginning that if the NDP tries to foist this kind of an ideological and unbalanced curriculum on Alberta students, that a future conservative government will shred that curriculum,” Kenney said in a recent Facebook video.

READ MORE: Cree curriculum at heart of new Alberta First Nation education plan

He has also promised to throw out any curriculum changes, if they stray too far from subject fundamentals, should he become premier in next spring’s election.

Eggen called Kenney’s comments “deeply offensive” and said experts from across the province have been consulted.

“This is good work that Jason Kenney is choosing to politicize for his own narrow ambitions.”

READ MORE: Not up to Premier Notley to dictate how Catholic schools teach sex education: Jason Kenney

Eggen is expected to approve the revised kindergarten to Grade 4 curriculum by the end of the year.

He announced the $64-million review for all grades two years ago. It is expected to be completed by 2022.

To view the proposed changes to Alberta’s K-4 curriculum, click here.

— with files from Global News’ Kendra Slugoski

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