Government Cancels Partnership with Teachers on Curriculum Development

August 17, 2019 ATA News Staff


The Alberta government advised the Alberta Teachers’ Association late Friday afternoon, without meaningful advance notice or any consultation, that it was cancelling the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding with the Association which established a partnership to advance provincial curriculum development. The decision followed on statements made by Premier Kenney the previous day that made unfounded claims about the content of the draft grades K to 4 curriculum and about Alberta student achievement.

Alberta Teachers’ Association President Jason Schilling received the news with disappointment and resignation.

“This partnership engaged the Alberta Teachers’ Association in assisting government in the curriculum design process and played an important role in mobilizing teachers’ practical expertise and support for the redesign of Alberta’s decade’s old curriculum, a project that had languished since Minister Hancock first launched his Inspiring Education initiative in 2009.”

The Memorandum recognized that teachers, who will ultimately deliver the curriculum, have special expertise worthy of consideration and it ensured a high degree of engagement with teachers, through their Association, in the curriculum renewal processes.

“Teachers live the curriculum; they know what works and what doesn’t work in today’s diverse and complex classrooms” said Schilling. “Ultimately, if a curriculum does not work for teachers and support student learning, it will fail and, for us, failure is not an option.”

Through the partnership, the Association provided advice to department officials on all aspects of design and implementation of the new curriculum and helped to recruit hundreds of teachers with classroom and subject area expertise to work on drafting and validating content. As well, the Association promoted the curriculum redesign process at its professional development events and through its various communication channels. This cooperation is now at risk as, potentially, is the curriculum redesign process itself.

Schilling rejected the notion that the Memorandum excluded participation by other stakeholder groups: “The minister and department officials can talk to whomever else they want, when they want—and they should be seeking advice from a broad cross section of Albertans about what Alberta students should be learning—the agreement with the Association did nothing to prevent that.” Schilling stated bluntly “This decision and this government’s approach seems to be motivated more by ideology than by a desire to ensure authentic engagement to benefit students.”

As for promises that the teachers will continue to be involved? “Given the way this decision was sprung on teachers late on a Friday afternoon without any conversation, I am not left with a whole lot of confidence in this Minister’s commitment to consultation on curriculum. I hope I am mistaken and proven wrong.”



What Alberta’s teachers believe about curriculum and curriculum reform

Background and timeline on the Memorandum of Understanding and curriculum development