Premier Jason Kenney announced, “Parents know best,” as he withdrew the 2021 Draft Curriculum from consideration. No, sorry. That’s what he said when passing legislation to allow schools to proliferate outside the public school system while being financed largely by the public purse.
Now, thousands of parents are screaming at him to #DitchTheDraft, but instead of addressing their criticisms, he throws taxpayer dollars into promotions to convince you the draft curriculum is wonderful. The UCP is vowing that the K-6 curriculum will be in place in fall 2022, and that standardized testing in every grade will follow shortly thereafter.
Teachers cannot stop this draft, although they’d like to. They won’t go on strike to protest, as curriculum is not an actionable item. They won’t ignore the bad stuff and teach only the reasonable stuff. They are bound by law to teach the curriculum. And standardized testing will be in place to make sure that’s exactly what they do.
Parents of school-age children: by eliminating teachers from the development process, the UCP has placed the onus on you to vet the curriculum. If that makes you uncomfortable or seems overwhelming, remember who put you in this position. You can still find the draft curriculum and feedback button online at curriculum.learnalberta.ca
Choose a grade where you have a child. You will know how they think. That’s important because so many outcomes are said to be age-inappropriate. Before you start, establish some guiding questions. Perhaps ask yourself, “Is this really do-able with this age group?” or, “Can this much material really be taught in one year?” You may also ask, “Why are there so many facts to be memorized in K-6, even in art and music?”
My favorite guiding questions are, “Is this really an essential learning for my child?” and “Is it so essential that I agree they should be evaluated and graded on this outcome?” Here are some sample outcomes from social studies to practice on:
In kindergarten, the student will: “Locate gravity on a globe.” I’m kidding! They took that one out due to “feedback.”
Grade 1: “Explain differences between ancient law and today’s law.”
Grade 2: “Explain belief systems associated with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam” and “Create a timeline for the rise and fall of the Roman Empire.”
As comparison, in the social studies curriculum currently in use, students learn in kindergarten: 'Myself, Belonging,' and in Grade 1: 'Home, School, Community.' In Grade 2, students learn 'Three Communities in Canada' and 'How a Community Changes over Time.'
I suggest you look at the social studies draft curriculum as the canary in the coal mine. All the things that are wrong with social studies – age inappropriateness, too much material, white settler point of view of history, errors in fact, parts of the curriculum copied from Wikipedia, important themes missing and questionable material inserted, and so much more – are these problems hiding in the other subjects too?
Read the draft curriculum. I believe you will join the distressed parents and grandparents now telling the UCP that enough is enough, and we demand a rewrite.