‘This has to be a joke:’ teacher from working group for K-6 curriculum speaks out

CALGARY –

A year after participating in a working group for the province’s new kindergarten through grade six curriculum, some of the teachers involved are blasting the process and the content of the document.

The confidentially agreement signed by participants has now expired, and one Lethbridge teacher told CTV News she was even brought to tears while analyzing the curriculum.

“I kept looking around thinking this has to be a joke,” said Annie Greeno, a teacher with the Holy Spirit Catholic school division in Lethbridge.

“Right away there was glaring errors. There were things that were racially inaccurate as well as inappropriate.”

Roughly 100 educators participated in a two-day virtual event in Dec. 2020 to provide feedback and guidance for a draft curriculum document that’s described as hundreds of pages long.

DIFFICULT TO HAVE VOICES HEARD

The Alberta Teachers’ Association president says teachers felt rushed and that it was difficult to have their voices heard.

Jason Schilling says a majority of members do not support the draft curriculum, as was the result of a survey of 6,500 teachers in September, and says it is now up to Alberta Education to make amendments.

“Teachers don’t want [the curriculum] to fail and the fact that its destined to do that and the government is not making any steps or changes to fix that is unbelievable to me I can’t understand why this would be the route they would want to take,” he said.

Greeno said some of the sources cited for the draft she looked at were from the 1970s.

“Would you go to a doctor that was using information from 20 years ago to treat you? Would you go to a dentist and prefer early 1900s practices? No. Nobody wants that.”

She added that the overall tone of the document appeared to represent an outdated perspective of Indigenous people, and some components crossed the line to being racist.

“I feel like they’re taking this pile of garbage and making me look through it to salvage it for children and its not appropriate,” she said.

Greeno added she is speaking out now out of consideration for the future of Alberta’s children.

The ATA says they are concerned that the lesson plans do not build off in stages throughout the grade levels to keep pace with child development.

“Kids aren’t going to have that prior knowledge to move forward in the next grade and they’re going to struggle and we don’t want kids to hate school. We want them to be successful and enjoy it,” said Schilling.

PROVINCE RESPONDS

In a statement to CTV News, a spokesperson for the office of the education minister that the draft viewed by the working group last year was very different than the draft released in March of 2021, and revisions are ongoing.

“Alberta Education is currently in a year-long open and transparent review process on the draft curriculum. We’re listening and working with parents, education partners and Albertans and will make improvements to the draft content based on the feedback we receive. Our commitment to ensure all Albertans can see themselves reflected in the curriculum remains throughout the review process,” said Nicole Sparrow in an email.

The province plans to reveal a final draft of the curriculum by spring 2022, to be implemented in the fall of that year.

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