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Overlooking the experts

Airdrie Our View_text

Teaching methods such as RVS initiatives like The Farm and Building Futures are an essential part of engaging students.

But recent moves by the provincial government suggest the influence of teachers – like the freedom to provide instruction beyond the status quo – may be at risk.

The Jan. 29 public release of the Curriculum Advisory Panel’s recommendations came without advanced notification to those directly impacted, according to Alberta Teachers’ Association president Jason Schilling.

“This process seems to be another example of this government’s pattern of striking panels to deliver predetermined advice without meaningful consultation with the stakeholders most affected,” he said.

The recommendations appear to "[undermine] teacher professionalism," Schilling added, with repeated references to "subject matter experts" who may be introduced to schools to teach curriculum – when teachers, he said, are the experts in "knowing how to teach students in developmentally-appropriate ways." 

Additionally, the Jan. 10 decision to continuing a trend that began in 2012 and keep teacher salaries frozen, compounded with increasing class sizes and limited education funding further restricts teachers’ ability to put students first.

Coming up with creative ways to keep students engaged requires time and mental energy that teachers simply are no longer afforded.

Schilling is clearly feeling the frustration: “Frankly, Alberta teachers are tired of having to pay for the continuing failure of successive governments to adequately fund public education.”

It’s great the government is asking for Albertans' input on “modernizing student learning,” but shouldn’t it listen to teachers first?