By Erika Mathieu
Westwind Weekly News
The highly contentious K-6 draft curriculum continues to be a hot-button issue as the hashtag #ditchthedraft continues to circulate on social media and within some critical and academic circles.
Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter met with Coaldale council on April 11 for a delegation. During the meeting, council members brought up several ongoing concerns relating to public services, including healthcare and education. Coun. Jason Beekman asked during the delegation, “in regards to the curriculum, (and) the review for the curriculum, I am just curious why on the review panel, there were no current teachers or (any)body that had been in a classroom in the last 15 years,” and added, “I feel that would be important when deciding education.”
In response, Hunter said, “In terms of having a teacher, a current teacher, on the curriculum review board, I’m not exactly sure why that is going to be the critical factor in determining whether you are going to get a good curriculum or not.”
During the council meeting, Hunter admitted there were not, “any current teachers,” on the advisory panel for the draft curriculum, but said the curriculum is being beta-tested in schools right now, and added, “I would say the most important part of having a good curriculum is expert curriculum developers, which are usually university professors.” During the meeting, Hunter also added that he “taught for two years,” prior to his political career.
“I personally feel that people who are in the trenches day to day would have been more beneficial than university professors,” said Beekman
An emailed statement from the office of Grant Hunter confirmed, “there were approximately 30 deans and professors who were invited to provide input,” but that, “Alberta Education does not track specific degrees, certificates or other qualifications that employees have attained.”
Earlier this year, Dr. Carla Peck, a professor at the University of Alberta said the proposed draft curriculum, “was not developed by experts.” Dr. Peck presented as a panel member during a public information session hosted by select members of the Department of Elementary Education at the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta on the draft K-6 curriculum earlier this year. According to her presentation, “neither of those people (hired to work on the draft curriculum) have PhDs in curriculum development, (and) one wasn’t ever a school teacher, and so they didn’t really have the expertise needed to write a curriculum.” She added, “it’s like the people writing it have never met a child.”
Dr. Peck said during this panel presentation in February, based on her observations in reviewing the social studies section of the draft curriculum, “it completely ignored everything we know about how students learn social studies,” and added, “it is not based on current research in social studies education and includes pretty low-level learning.” Dr. Peck has previously been awarded $2.5 million to lead a multi-year, pan−Canadian research study on K−12 history education. One of her current course offerings,“EDEL 650 Curriculum Foundations and Inquiry,” is a required course for doctoral students in the Department of Elementary Education.
Although Hunter said during the council meeting the updates to the curriculum confirms, that “the (education) minister listened,” to feedback, the Alberta Teacher’s Association (ATA) released a statement following the April 13 address by Alberta’s Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange. The release expresses the ATA’s skepticism of whether the updated draft curriculum has gone far enough to rectify principal criticisms and concerns with the previous draft. “We know that hundreds of teachers, academics, parents and others have criticized the content and direction of the previous draft directly to the Minister and through the very limited dialogue she has permitted to take place. But Albertans don’t know if today’s version of the curriculum incorporates that feedback or, instead, continues to reflect the political and ideological interference that has plagued this process so far.”