Vocal opposition to the province’s proposed K-6 curriculum continued on Saturday, leading to ‘Ditch the Draft‘ rallies across Alberta on Saturday including in Lethbridge.
The movement has been organized by concerned teachers and parents like Jayne Werry, who says her kids have struggled enough over the last two years.
“With the COVID changes, the way their social circles have changed, the immense stress that they’re going through as it is — I see it at home, I see it in their personal relationships — I think that school needs to be a safer place,” Werry said. “And I think a lot of the changes that are coming up with that are not going to help.”
Critics have said that parts of the proposed curriculum is not age appropriate and is skewed toward Eurocentric history.
Werry says from her perspective, a lot of what’s included seems to be out of order.
“There are concepts introduced before they should be, there’s some things that — with math in particular — there’s something that starts in grade 3and then it’s introduced as a concept in grade 6, and the timeline doesn’t work,” she said.
The province is pushing ahead with a phased introduction of the new curriculum starting in September.
The Alberta Teachers’ Association has been critical of the plan. At the Ditch the Draft rally in Edmonton on Saturday, president Jason Schilling said teachers have not seen a draft with just five months until the start of the next school year.
In a statement, the press secretary for Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said that the government respects Albertans’ right to protest, and that an open and transparent year-long review process had been followed through on.
“The feedback from all engagement opportunities and classroom piloting is being used to further revise draft K-6 content,” the statement read. “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. These individuals all have extensive qualifications, expertise and experience working within the education system.”
The spokesperson said that the curriculum development process also included extensive public engagement opportunities.
Schilling said that only one active teacher is included in the advisory group.
Werry believes that the government has decided to ignore the feedback of Albertans.
“I think when they say they are listening to feedback, it’s just what they say. I think it’s ‘Sure, we listen to that, but we’re going to barge ahead doing whatever we please anyhow,’ and it goes against what I’m hearing from all of the teachers and educators in my circle,” Werry said.
Werry says most of those who attended the rally on Saturday in Lethbridge participated in a mail campaign, filling out their own specific concerns on post cards that will be sent to LaGrange’s office.
“I believe I started with 250 of those and they have all been given out. Many were collected back and we’re going to send them to her office as a message from the people who she’s meant to be serving,” she said.
“Main message: ditch this draft. It’s garbage, it needs to be started over.”
The province says it will start 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.