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'Teachers must be at the head of the table': ATA wants voice in curriculum update

Last Updated Nov 5, 2020 at 3:20 pm MDT

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange speaks at St. Marguerite School in SE Calgary to update on the province's education curriculum review on Jan 29, 2020. (PHOTO: Tom Ross, 660 NEWS)

EDMONTON (660 NEWS) – The Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) is calling on the province to let them back into the curriculum development process.

The ATA’s provincial executive council has passed a motion expressing lack of confidence in the process currently underway.

The move comes as leaked recommendations — which include suggestions to drop talk of the residential school system from early grades and teach primary school children bible verses about creation as poetry — from some of the UCP government’s hand-picked panel have raised eyebrows.

“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,” said ATA President Jason Schilling.

“Teachers must be at the head of the table when curriculum development occurs; otherwise, it is destined for failure.”

WATCH: Residential school survivor concerned over curriculum review expert

Schilling said teachers aren’t the only ones concerned about the future direction of the curriculum. More than 15,000 people have signed a petition calling for the leaked recommendations to be scrapped.

“We, the undersigned, call on Education Minister Adriana LaGrange to immediately and unequivocally reject the recommendations made for Alberta’s K-4 social studies and arts curriculum by Chris Champion and William French. . . . Minister LaGrange, put this advice in the shredder,” the petition reads.

Schilling has sent a letter to Minister LaGrange outlining concerns over the suggested changes and is calling for an immediate meeting to discuss the curriculum.

He said LaGrange dismissed his last meeting request, stating that the association would be included in a yet-to-be-arranged multi-stakeholder meeting.

The UCP’s education curriculum panel has been facing criticism since it was established earlier this year.

A statement from Colin Aitchison, spokesperson for Minister LaGrange, said the ATA doesn’t have the final say here.

“The teachers’ union, which has in the past rolled out the red carpet for such figures as David Suzuki and Tzeporah Berman, does not get to dictate the curriculum. These were merely recommendations that will go to the curriculum working group consisting of teachers this fall. No final decisions have been made on curriculum,” he wrote in a statement emailed to 660 NEWS.

The ATA has pointed out the panel does not include Indigenous or francophone members.

One of the members, tasked with revising the social studies curriculum, has come under fire for his previous articles in support of the residential school system.