Northwest Territories weighs dropping Alberta education curriculum for B.C.’s: NDP

Click to play video: 'Proposed new Alberta social studies curriculum called ‘embarrassing’ and ‘ideological’'
Proposed new Alberta social studies curriculum called ‘embarrassing’ and ‘ideological’
WATCH (Oct. 21, 2020): A document leaked to the CBC recommends, in part, not teaching elementary students in Alberta about residential schools. Fletcher Kent has reaction to the policy advice. – Oct 21, 2020

Alberta’s Official Opposition says Northwest Territories is preparing to drop Alberta’s curriculum, which it says has been used in schools for more than 40 years, in favour of British Columbia’s curriculum.

The NDP says the change is due to “the widely-criticized rewrite by Jason Kenney’s UCP government.”

While UCP Education Minister Adriana LaGrange called the claim “completely inaccurate speculation,” NDP Education Critic Sarah Hoffman said she has it on “strong authority from multiple sources” that she has “a high degree of confidence in.”

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In a statement to Global News Tuesday, a spokesperson for Northwest Territories’ department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) said no decisions around a change of curriculum have been made.

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“ECE regularly reviews its curriculum and resources to ensure they align with the NWT’s priorities and values for education,” Christina Carrigan said.

“Exploring what options are available is a normal part of reviewing and renewing curriculum, as such, we have conducted research to explore how other provinces and territories approach curriculum.”

Carrigan said NWT is researching other jurisdictions’ curricula, including B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as well as the Yukon and Nunavut.

She said the scale of this current review is “certainly more extensive than previous reviews, as it involves all subject areas and grades.”

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“No decisions around a change of curriculum have been made, and will not be without input from Indigenous governments and key educational stakeholders, including elected NWT education leaders,” Carrigan added.

In response to a request for comment from Global News, B.C.’s ministry of education said: “The Ministry of Education, Culture and Employment of the Northwest Territories was conducting a jurisdictional scan for research on best practices in K-12 curriculum and assessment, and B.C. has responded to requests for information.”


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Petition calls for more anti-Black racism teaching in Alberta schools

Hoffman said she isn’t surprised NWT has not spoken out about the decision publicly but said the territory’s government is “very close to making it formal that they are aligning with B.C.”

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She said it shows other regions and leaders don’t have confidence in Alberta’s curriculum any longer.

Hoffman said LaGrange “botched” the curriculum file, and describes Alberta’s redesign as “racist.”

“[The education minister] invited the premier’s racist friends to hold the pen and didn’t blink when she heard they want to erase the history of Indigenous people in Alberta in favour of more European history,” Hoffman said.

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On Tuesday, LaGrange said she spoke with NWT’s minister of education that morning “and he was very pleased with our commitment to addressing key principles of Reconciliation and First Nations in our draft curriculum.

“The minister also assured me the NWT is simply going through their normal review process as the previous five-year agreement that they had with Alberta is coming to an end in September.”

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Alberta education minister speaks about curriculum review panel

LaGrange said the NWT is looking at a number of provinces, including Alberta, “during this routine review.”

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She reiterated that Alberta’s “future curriculum will include a broad, inclusive account of history, including Black history and Indigenous history. It will include First Nations, Indigenous and Metis perspectives.

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“It will also address concepts, issues and topics related to anti-racism, especially in social studies.

“This is a commitment I’ve made numerous times and one I intend to keep,” LaGrange said.

She added that the draft K-6 curriculum will be made public in the “coming months” and then, all Albertans can review it and provide feedback.

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When the first eight appointees to the UCP’s curriculum review panel were announced, the government was criticized for its lack of equity, diversity, inclusion and representation.

Later, the panel grew to 12 members, including five women.

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