The UCP created a K-6 school curriculum draft, planned to be piloted by AB schools this fall. However, most Alberta school divisions do not agree with the proposed curriculum. Of Alberta’s 61 school divisions, 58 have announced that they will not be piloting the draft curriculum. Divisions and Albertans have agreed that the draft largely ignores Indigenous history, culture, language, and perspective.
The Alberta Teacher Association (ATA) conducted a survey finding that less than one in five Albertans support the UPC’s draft curriculum. The ATA also released the following statement: “The Government of Alberta needs to work alongside First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Elders and Knowledge Keepers, communities and organizations, to ensure that the curriculum is rebalanced to authentically include Indigenous ways of knowing, and Indigenous perspectives, experiences, and stories in order to advance truth and reconciliation.”
ATA president Jason Schilling told Alberta Native News that he’s suspicious of the UPC’s claim that over 100 educators were involved in the draft’s creation. Schilling stated: “Albertans are saying to us that the curriculum is poorly done, and it is inappropriate for students. They also recognize that the problem was largely created because teachers were left out of the planning.”
Criticism also came from education experts in the province and teachers. A Facebook group titled Albertans Against the Curriculum Facebook has gathered over 40,000 members.
The Northland School Division (NSD), headed by Dr. Nancy Spencer-Poitras, is also not on board with the curriculum. Curtis Walty, NSD Media Relations Manager, made a statement regarding the Draft K-6 Curriculum in April: “At this time, NSD will not be piloting the draft K-6 curriculum for the 2021-2022 school year. The Board of Trustees and Administration reviewed the draft content, outcomes, and measures proposed in the applicable subject areas, and discussed alignment with the vision, commitment, core values, and priorities of the Board ...The Indigenous perspectives and experiences that were included in the previous curriculum seem to be omitted.”
NSD defends their position by stating that they are “focused on student and staff well-being during a time where continuity of learning and recovery from the pandemic is paramount. NSD considered the current realities we are living through as a result of COVID-19.”
NSD, like many AB school divisions, supports the modernization of the K-6 curriculum: “The Board recognizes the importance of redesigning the curriculum for the benefit of student learning. A new curriculum is important and will impact teaching and learning for years, so now is the opportunity to make sure we get it right for our students. [We] will be supporting the modernization of the curriculum by engaging our parents, students, and staff and gathering their input for possible revisions … As we move forward, it’s important Northland students, parents/guardians, staff, and community members have an opportunity to give their input. The communities we serve need to be heard, and Northland students must see themselves in the draft curriculum.” School boards are currently concerned with learning loss and getting students back on track and into schools for in-person learning.
In addition to many rural school divisions, the Calgary School Board of Education (CBE), Edmonton Public Schools, and Edmonton Catholic Schools have also announced that they will not pilot the draft curriculum.
With the majority of school divisions not on board with the draft, it’s evident that UPC needs better consultation and communication with Indigenous communities and AB school boards. Before the draft is fully implemented in the 2022-2023 school year, Alberta school staff, students, guardians, and parents can view the curriculum in its entirety here and provide input here until Spring of 2022.