CBE will not test drive controversial new Alberta curriculum this fall

The Calgary Board of Education will not take part in the provincial government’s controversial new draft K-6 curriculum pilot project this fall.

The board is the latest to join several others across the province to reject the draft — including Edmonton Public and Edmonton Catholic.

The Métis Nation of Alberta and Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations have also rejected the proposed curriculum

The CBE says it has concerns similar to those expressed by educators, academic staff, parents and community members.

“As the largest public school board in Alberta, we believe it is vitally important to provide Alberta Education with feedback on the draft curriculum,” the CBE said in a release on Friday.

“In the fall, we will gather meaningful feedback through focus groups with classroom teachers and curriculum specialists. Staff, parents/guardians and community members are encouraged to continue providing feedback.”

Education Minster Adriana LaGrange has had to defend the province’s new K-6 curriculum. (Sam Martin/CBC)

The new curriculum has come under fire after being called Eurocentric, and for its approach towards race, Indigenous history and colonialism.

The curriculum has also been criticized for alleged instances of plagiarism and has received pushback from educators and parents.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange told CBC News last month that school district participation in the pilot project was voluntary, but she hoped to have representation from urban and rural schools.

The ministry intends to have the curriculum taught in all Alberta elementary schools by September 2022.

Education press secretary Justin Marshall said last week that the pilot project should give schools a chance to provide feedback on the curriculum.

“School divisions can opt to pilot all or some of the draft curriculum subjects [math, language arts, etc.],” he said.

“If some school divisions do not wish to pilot, they simply will not be able to provide direct, in-classroom feedback on potential change.”

‘A strong statement’

Medeana Moussa, executive director of Support our Students Alberta, says the CBE’s decision sends a message.

“They’re not first out of the door, but they’re by no means late. I think they wanted to give it due consideration. And I think they have made a strong statement,” Moussa said.

“And I think it’s really important that the other school boards show solidarity and follow suit with the largest school board in Alberta and stand up for students.”

The CBE said it has carefully reviewed the curriculum, and the decision took into account the pandemic and focusing on the immediate needs of students.

In a statement issued Friday, NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman said kids deserve better than the UCP plan.

“Alberta’s largest school board, the Calgary Board of Education, has now rejected Jason Kenney’s flawed curriculum. We know that the UCP curriculum will not prepare students for advanced education and their future careers,” Hoffman wrote.

“More than 10, including three of the province’s four largest school boards, have now taken a stand against the premier’s plan for educating Alberta children.”

NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman is pleased to hear that the Calgary Board of Education has chosen not to participate in the province’s new curriculum pilot this fall. (CBC)

Hoffman added that she hopes the UCP government will put a halt to the pilot plan.

The CBE statement indicated they shared a similar goal.

“We trust that government will consider all the feedback gathered across the province and make the necessary changes prior to implementation in September 2022,” the CBE said.

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