The Calgary Board of Education is the latest Alberta school board that won’t pilot the province’s new draft K-6 curriculum this fall, and Alberta’s education minister is warning that school districts that don’t participate won’t be able to provide the same kind of feedback that other districts will.
The Calgary Board of Education released a statement on Friday: “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 board said the decision was also made in part due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to focus on the current needs of students.
Other major districts, including Edmonton Public Schools and the Lethbridge School District, have also said they won’t pilot the curriculum this fall.
The chief superintendent of the Calgary Catholic School District said on Saturday the district won’t force any of its teachers to pilot the new curriculum.
“If you want to have a great curriculum in Alberta, we have to step up participation of our teachers to help improve something that we know right now has some critical flaws in it,” said Bryan Szumlas.
Szumlas said that he wants to be part of the solution to make the draft better.
“This is like a six-course meal, and social studies is one of the servings, and obviously, it’s not tasting very good to anybody,” Szumlas said. He said that CCSD officials will be meeting this week to determine to what degree the district will participate.
On Friday, the Alberta Teachers’ Association said a recent survey showed that 91 per cent of teachers are unhappy with the draft. The feedback shows that teachers strongly believe that the new curriculum is both age and developmentally inappropriate.
ATA president Jason Schilling said the draft curriculum is “fatally flawed.”
“This curriculum is not age- or grade-appropriate, there are several problems with the content, and it doesn’t push students to deeper-level thinking or higher-level thinking or engage them in their learning,” Schilling said, “which is something that teachers would want to see in a curriculum as we move forward in Alberta with something that is a little more modern.”
Alberta’s education minister said on Saturday that if some school divisions do not wish to pilot, they won’t be able to provide the same kind of feedback on potential changes.
“Those school divisions that are going to pilot it, they will be able to provide us that rich feedback. While we will get feedback from CBE and others who do not choose to pilot, the actual rich feedback that we will get from teachers on the ground actually putting it into practice will be indispensable to us,” Adriana LaGrange said.
“We will gather that information from those who choose not to pilot but the ones who choose to pilot will be leaders and they will be able to give us that rich feedback that we are looking for.”
Medeana Moussa, executive director of the Support Our Students Alberta advocacy group, said the growing pushback shows the government should go back to the drawing board with the draft curriculum.
“I don’t think it’s surprising that the CBE doesn’t support it. I think they recognize that it is not in the best interest of children to pilot this regressive draft curriculum. It misses the mark on so many points. Lots of experts have spoken out against it,” Moussa said.