People rallied across Alberta, including in Edmonton and Calgary, on Saturday to rally against the province’s controversial K-6 curriculum.
The grassroots movement was started by parents and organizations concerned that the program does not meet educational best practices.
Carla Peck is one of the organizers of the Ditch the Draft protest in Edmonton and has said she wants a full moratorium on the proposal.
“The draft curriculum they have developed is not of sufficient quality for students or teachers in Alberta and we need to start the process all over again. The process was broken from the start and we need to fix it,” Peck said.
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The Alberta Teachers’ Association criticized the plan and called on the province to start over, and many councils in the province refused to pilot it.
ATA President Jason Schilling said the fact that the draft curriculum is set to roll out to schools this fall is a major point of frustration.
“If we put this in schools in the fall, we will see irreparable damage to our students for generations. And teachers, kids and parents, they just don’t want that,” Schilling said on Saturday.
Parents at the protest expressed their frustration.
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“I’m worried about my kids,” Alison Eshpeter said. “I have three children in total, two will always be impacted by the program.”
“I worry about my own children,” Lisa Sharun said. “But I’m more concerned about the general path we’re taking now and I just don’t think it’s a good path for our province and our society in general.”
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The province is moving forward and planning changes in September with K-3 students learning a new math and English curriculum, as well as a new physical education and wellness curriculum for all children from kindergarten to 6th grade.
Students in grades 4-6 will see the new math and English curriculum begin in 2023.
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Critics say parts of the program are not age-appropriate, that it is biased towards Eurocentric history, and that it only refers to First Nations, Inuit and Métis in the past. Teachers also said it did not include lessons on critical thinking skills and lacked accurate Indigenous perspectives.
In a statement Saturday, the education minister’s press secretary said the province said it had “committed to a transparent and open curriculum review process and that we have held this promise”.
“With this idea, in December we made content changes in four areas, provided a new design outline for the K-6 social studies project, and adjusted implementation timelines. In January and February, we offered new engagement opportunities for Albertans to share their views on the draft K-6 curriculum and design plan. They could also provide feedback through an online survey.
“Feedback from all engagement opportunities and classroom piloting is used to further revise the K-6 content project,” continued Katherine Stavropoulos.
“We take a balanced and measured implementation approach for K-6 subject projects based on insights and advice from the Curriculum Implementation Advisory Group.”
—with files from Christopher Chacon, Global News
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