The Alberta Teachers’ Association is advising caution after learning that some government MLAs have sent personal invitations to some teachers to participate in “curriculum working groups.” The invitations were sent in reaction to considerable public outcry over the recently released draft K–6 curriculum. Parents and other constituents who have contacted MLAs to voice their opposition to the curriculum have also received invitations to participate in the working groups.
In a copy of an invitation sent by the constituency assistant on behalf of Tracy Allard, MLA for Grande Prairie, Allard explains that the virtual sessions are a response to messages from constituents and are meant to supplement consultations that the government has already undertaken.
ATA president Jason Schilling says the working groups, despite their name, do not reflect the teacher working groups that were previously facilitated by Alberta Education department staff.
“The term ‘teacher working groups’ was originally used to describe the very genuine and considered process undertaken by Alberta Education department staff to write and review what became the 2018 draft curriculum,” Schilling said. “A working group is much more involved and robust than mere consultation.”
The historical working groups involved strategic and planned selection of participants (with input from the ATA), who worked collectively over hundreds of hours and who were compensated with an honorarium. But perhaps most notable is that the sessions were conducted with education department staff and not politicians.
“This kept the work free from political interference,” Schilling said. “What was proposed by these MLAs is exactly the opposite.”
Schilling said the Association is concerned about the potential use of nondisclosure agreements, about how the information will be collected and shared, and about how the existence of these groups will be represented to the public. Thus, he is advising teachers to approach these invitations with considerable caution.
“We would normally encourage teachers to meet with their MLAs and discuss their concerns. In fact, if teachers want to have one-on-one meetings, we fully encourage it. But these working groups are too problematic, and we are concerned that any input would be used to legitimize a predetermined outcome or, at worst, used against other teachers in the profession.” ❚
Education professors share research-based curriculum analysis
A group representing Alberta’s faculties of education have published an analysis of the curriculum on a website, and are encouraging other academic experts to do the same. The analysis and call for other contributors to provide research-supported analysis and assessment has been published to a publicly available website.
The new website is spearheaded by Dr. Carla Peck, Dr. Sarah Elaine Eaton and Dr. Angela Grace. It aims to provide scholarly examination and critique from diverse, non-partisan sources across the province.
The website can be found at https://alberta-curriculum-analysis.ca/.