Spotlight on Solutions is our regular blog post that cuts through the partisan spin favouring positive, pragmatic and solutions-oriented politics.
This week we’re shining the spotlight on Alberta’s highly criticized draft K-6 curriculum.
The controversy began when the previous government's ongoing three-year consultation process was scrapped. Throwing out three years of work was given little justification and seemed to be rooted in partisan motivations. Alberta Liberals advocated addressing any issues with the ongoing review and keeping the process going. However, if a curriculum review is based on parents and education experts, then a change in government does not warrant changing it.
Nevertheless, the new draft curriculum arrived in the spring of 2021 and was subject to almost universal criticism and outrage from teachers and parents. There were positives to the draft’s credits, such as adding coding and financial literacy to the curriculum to the draft's credit, but the problems outweighed the strengths. Alberta Liberals highlighted concerns such as the bizarre social studies curriculum, a strong ideological bent, and exclusion or downplaying of subjects like climate change and Indigenous history. However, our most significant criticism was the lack of input from teachers and parents.
Ignoring key stakeholders and experts is a surefire way to invite disaster on any public policy. It’s no surprise that the ignored experts and stakeholders have been highly critical of the UCP draft curriculum. Organizations such as the Alberta Teacher’s Association, Alberta School Council’s Association, and Support our Students have all outlined the numerous issues with the revised curriculum in great detail. The government seems to have decided to ignore these concerns.
This problem is a messy one. After nearly six years and two review processes, it’s clear we have a worse curriculum proposal than when we started. But unfortunately, it’s also unlikely that the draft curriculum we’ve seen can either be salvaged or scrapped. So what’s the solution?
The only real option to ensure that parents and educators can provide meaningful input and create an unbiased and detailed curriculum is to initiate a third curriculum revision process. That’s more than a little inconvenient and inefficient but, there isn’t room for compromise regarding our children's education. Thankfully, with two lengthy review processes in recent history, an accelerated process should be possible. We can learn from both processes' mistakes and successes to save time and money. Through an educator-- and parent-led process, we can get this right for Alberta’s students and set them on a path to success. We can because we have to.
That’s it for this week’s Spotlight on Solutions. If you want a more solutions-oriented approach to Alberta politics, make sure to subscribe. If you’d like to share your thoughts on education policy, join us at our next virtual pints and politics on Tuesday, February 15th.