Teachers Have Lost Trust in Curriculum Redesign Efforts

Release Date 2020 10 21

Proposed curriculum revisions contained in leaked documents are regressive and inappropriate, and highlight the critical problem of cutting teachers out of the curriculum process, says the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

“It is much more clear now why the government ended the agreement with the ATA last summer to work together on curriculum: teachers would not support this direction for curriculum.”

—ATA President Jason Schilling

CBC has reported on leaked documents that outline recommendations made by so-called subject matter experts on the draft K to 4 social studies and arts education curriculum. Among other things, the recommendations call for eliminating all references to residential schools and equity, and advocate for more memorization of facts related to ancient history. The prior drafts of curriculum, developed by hundreds of teachers with input from thousands of Albertans, focused on understanding multiple perspectives and included age-appropriate understandings of the history of colonization in Canada, including residential schools.

“The Indian Residential School system was created to erase the cultures, histories, languages, and perspectives of Indigenous peoples within Canada, and these recommendations perpetuate that erasure. The recommendations perpetuate systemic racism through whitewashing of the draft curriculum. These recommendations cannot be taken seriously and must be rejected outright.”

—ATA Staff Officer for Indigenous Education Melissa Purcell

The recommendations were made in part by UCP government appointees Chris Champion and William French. The ATA has previously called for the dismissal of Champion from this work based on his controversial views about curriculum and residential schools. Schilling says neither Champion nor French are experts in curriculum, and their backgrounds don’t make them suitable for this work.

“Teachers are experts in curriculum; they understand the readiness of young students for different pieces of content and they understand what it means to bring curriculum to life in the classroom. I am calling for the minister to unequivocally reject these proposals and to immediately bring teachers back to the table on curriculum development.”

—ATA President Jason Schilling

Schilling says he has written the minister recently to request a meeting on the government’s current curriculum review efforts, but that the request for a meeting has been rejected.

The Alberta Teachers’ Association, as the professional organization of teachers, promotes and advances public education, safeguards standards of professional practice and serves as the advocate for its 46,000 members.