Widescale Opposition to Kenney Government's Draft Science Curriculum

The demand that the people of Alberta have a say in curriculum development has gone viral. At last count, more than 38,600 Albertans have joined the group Albertans Reject Curriculum Draft. The draft curriculum has been denounced by Indigenous peoples, Francophone organizations, and tens of thousands of people. People are finding ways to get petitions signed despite the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 (the Alberta government does not accept online petitions), and speaking out with thoughtful and incisive comments. Many people are saying they will stand behind teachers who refuse to do harm to their students by teaching this curriculum.

The Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) is calling for the Government of Alberta to stop all work on the piloting and implementation of the draft curriculum until an independent, open and full review and rewrite can occur.

The Association published full-page ads in daily newspapers across Alberta on April 16 to issue the call for a moratorium and to show support for school boards and teachers that decide not to participate in piloting.

The ATA said: 

"Alberta's students and teachers require an appropriate and workable curriculum. The government is being told loudly and clearly that this curriculum is unacceptable. We now need the government to announce a stop to their implementation plans and to spell out a new way forward," said Jason Schilling, ATA president.

ATA president Jason Schilling says the Association supports school boards that have decided not to pilot this draft curriculum, and he calls on all school authorities to refrain from directing their teachers to participate in piloting.

He stated, "Teachers who believe this curriculum is unsound and potentially damaging to student learning have the professional responsibility and moral right to refuse to participate in voluntary piloting. The government and school boards must respect the decision of individual teachers to not participate in piloting."

Although the teaching profession is frustrated by being left out of the curriculum development process, Schilling says teachers are more than willing to assist the government with a rewrite that reflects their extensive expertise and knowledge.

"We are committed to supporting the development of a high-quality curriculum, and the ATA is prepared to work constructively in partnership with the Government of Alberta toward that end. It is the only workable path forward. We just need to be invited," Schilling emphasized.

The call follows the release of preliminary survey results showing that 91 per cent of teachers and school administrators are unhappy with the draft curriculum, with three in four teachers stating that they are "very unhappy." The survey also showed that 90 per cent of elementary school teachers feel uncomfortable about teaching the new K-6 curriculum, and 95 per cent of principals feel uncomfortable about supporting the curriculum in their school and community.

The ATA is directing parents and the public who are concerned about the draft curriculum to pledge support for the moratorium and review by visiting curriculum [thelearningteam.ca].

(Alberta Teachers' Association news release, April 15, 2021)

This article was published in

April 19, 2021 - No. 30

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