The Rocky View Schools' (RVS) Board of Trustees has announced the public school division will not be participating in the pilot rollout of the Alberta Government's draft K-6 curriculum this fall.
The draft curriculum was released by the government on March 29 and has been met with criticism from both school districts across the province and the Alberta Teacher's Association (ATA). The latter organization claimed teachers were not sufficiently engaged in the curriculum's development, and as a result, is out of touch with today's classrooms.
The Calgary Board of Education – the province's largest school district – has also rejected to pilot the curriculum this fall, following the footsteps of the Edmonton Public and Edmonton Catholic school boards' decisions earlier this month to not pilot the draft curriculum.
According to a media release, RVS' decision comes in light of the continuing burden the COVID-19 pandemic has created for teachers and students.
"While we appreciate that government has provided flexibility in piloting, we have heard from our administration and many parents and staff requesting that the pilot does not occur in RVS classrooms for a number of reasons,” stated Board Chair Fiona Gilbert. "Piloting a new curriculum will only put more pressure on teachers, schools and the system while we work through recovering from the impacts of the pandemic.”
Gilbert added RVS also has heard concerns from stakeholders about some of the specific topics and approaches being utilized in the draft curriculum, and the division is not prepared to put it in front of students at this time.
A CBC story about CBE's rejection of the curriculum pilot rollout stated the Calgary division felt the curriculum draft is too European-centric and does not take an even-handed approach to topics such as race and colonialism.
The draft has also been challenged for alleged instances of plagiarism. Sarah Elaine Eaton, a professor at the University of Calgary's Werklund School of Education, said she has found multiple instances of the curriculum being copy-and-pasted from online sources, including Wikipedia articles and old academic articles.
In RVS's news release, Superintendent Greg Luterbach said while RVS will not be co-opting the new draft curriculum this fall, the division will still be looking to provide the government with important feedback in the coming months.
“RVS will focus our efforts on bringing groups of teachers and school administrators together to engage with the draft curriculum and provide feedback to government through this mechanism,” he said. “It will help us better understand the nuance in the drafts and provide opportunities for teachers to help identify needed changes to the draft curriculum.
“We strongly believe that RVS teachers have valuable knowledge, expertise and perspective to help shape the draft curriculum," he added.
In an interview, the superintendent elaborated further on what he hopes to see in future editions of the draft K-6 curriculum.
"I hope to see something that supports what we're hearing from our communities, and we would probably hope that the curriculum is more enabling and less into the small details," he said.
Luterbach added he hopes to hear from RVS teachers, as well.
"Because curriculum really has a big impact on schools and kids and it's not an item that changes year by year, so it's important that we spend the time and energy to get it right," he said.
Gilbert said that RVS welcomes an updated curriculum and is eager to work with the government to build on what was working well and what could be developed for "the next generation of Albertans."
“We encourage all stakeholders to spend some time with the actual draft curriculum and provide specific feedback to government to help ensure that the curriculum meets the current and future needs of students," she said.
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