People gathered across Alberta, including in Edmonton and Calgary, on Saturday to rally against the province’s controversial proposed K-6 curriculum.
The grassroots movement was started by parents and organizations concerned that the curriculum does not meet educational best practices.
Carla Peck is one of the organizers of the Ditch the Draft Protest in Edmonton and said they want a full moratorium on the proposal.
“The draft curriculum they have put together is not of sufficient quality for Alberta students or teachers and we need to start the process over. The process was broken from the beginning and we need to fix it,” said Peck.
The Alberta Teachers’ Association has been critical of the plan and asked the province to start again from scratch, and many boards across the province refused to pilot it.
ATA president Jason Schilling said the fact that the draft curriculum is slated to go ahead in schools this fall is a major point of frustration.
“If we put this into schools in the fall, we will see irreparable damage to our students for generations. And teachers and kids and parents, they just don’t want that,” Schilling said Saturday.
Parents at the demonstration voiced their frustration.
“I am worried about my kids,” said Alison Eshpeter. “I’ve got three kids total, two will still be impacted by the curriculum.”
“I’m concerned about my own children,” said Lisa Sharun. “But I’m more concerned about just the general path that we are taking now and I just don’t think it’s a good one for our province and our society in general.”
The province is pushing ahead, planning changes this September with students in kindergarten to Grade 3 learning a new math and English language arts curriculum, as well as a new physical education and wellness program for all kids grades K-6.
Grades 4 to 6 will see the new math and English language arts curriculum starting in 2023.
Critics say parts of the curriculum are not age appropriate, that it’s skewed toward Eurocentric history and referred to First Nations, Inuit and Metis only in the past tense. Teachers have also said it failed to include lessons on critical thinking skills and lacked accurate Indigenous perspectives.
In a statement Saturday, the press secretary to the education minister said the province had said it had “committed to a transparent and open year-long review process for curriculum and we kept that promise.”
“With this insight, in December we made content changes in four subject areas, provided a new design blueprint for draft K-6 Social Studies and adjusted implementation timelines. In January and February we provided new engagement opportunities for Albertans to share their viewpoints on the draft K-6 curriculum and design blueprint. They could also provide feedback through an online survey.
“The feedback from all engagement opportunities and classroom piloting is being used to further revise draft K-6 content,” Katherine Stavropoulos went on to say.
“We are taking a balanced and measured implementation approach for draft K-6 subjects based on insight and advice from the Curriculum Implementation Advisory Group.”
—with files from Christopher Chacon, Global News