Alberta Education moves forward with K-6 curriculum

Kids work during class at St. Maria Goretti school in northeast Edmonton. Global News

The Alberta government is taking the next steps to make its controversial curriculum a reality in schools this fall.

The province has established a curriculum implementation advisory group that is made up of school board trustees, superintendents and some teachers who are piloting the curriculum. There will also be meetings with First Nation school authorities.

The government will take recommendations from the group to help with how the new curricula for English language arts and literature, math and physical education and wellness will be successfully implemented in the fall.

The group is expected to meet at least once a month until June.

The Alberta Teachers’ Association, which is not part of the implementation group, has concerns.

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President Jason Schilling said there is some teacher representation in the new advisory group, but the level of engagement is inadequate.

“At the end of the day, school boards don’t implement curriculum,” he said. “Superintendents don’t implement curriculum.

“Teachers implement curriculum and need to be meaningfully involved in its development.”

He also has concerns with the amount of time that will be left for teachers to learn the new curriculum for the fall.

“They are not looking for a meaningful critique. The government is looking for kudos for a draft that teachers fear is destined to fail,” Schilling said.

“If they are going to implement this in the fall, they can’t expect teachers to do this work over the summer to get prepared. That has to come earlier. That’s why we said we need to put a moratorium on this from the get-go, because there are still many questions around the content.”

Carla Peck is a social studies professor at the University of Alberta. She has also worked on previous curricula.

Peck is alarmed that the curriculum is being moved forward so quickly.

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“That is an incredibly short time frame to have an implementation committee do its work,” she said.

“Just to give you a counter-example, I sat on a curriculum advisory committee just for social studies with Alberta Education for three years.”

Peck said she believes the whole approach to this curriculum has been a complete failure.

“They don’t care about the significant concerns — they just don’t care. They have an agenda. They are moving forward with the agenda and it doesn’t matter that significant concerns have been raised.”

The province has put a pause on some changes to a few subjects, including social studies. The implementation advisory group will also provide supports to the remaining subjects which are expected to be implemented in September 2023.

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