‘Rocky Roads Ahead’ As Almost All New Edmonton Public School Trustees Pledge To Fight Alberta Over K-6 Curriculum Project

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Almost all of Edmonton’s new school trustees have spoken out strongly against Alberta’s controversial K-6 curriculum proposal ahead of Monday’s election, setting the stage for a battle with the province over what is the better for student education.

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Eight of nine Edmonton public school trustees told the Support Our Students (SOS) advocacy group in a pre-election survey they do not support the program as it is and will oppose it. Ninth Administrator Dawn Hancock did not respond to SOS – or a Postmedia request for comment for this story – but to a statement on his site says the program has problems, that it will advocate for affected parents and support the teachers involved in the process with their recommendations.

With the return of just two incumbents, the newcomers will be in a difficult position given the government’s antagonistic approach to school boards from the start of her tenure, according to outgoing school trustee Bridget Stirling. The council also opposed the government, pushing for a rewrite of the program earlier this year and withdraw to steer the project.

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“It’s a really tough place. I think we have seen a trend over the past couple of years of a government that is not interested in dialogue. And so I think the directors are going to have to be ready to continue to take fairly strong positions, ”she said.

Administrators will also have to deal with the finalized Kindergarten to Grade 6 curriculum if the government proposes it next fall, without local schools having a chance to test it.

“They won’t be able to refuse the implementation, and there is a lot of concern about the implications for students,” Stirling said.

The majority of school divisions in Alberta have chosen not to pilot the interim curriculum, including Edmonton Catholic Schools . Participating divisions began testing last month.

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University of Alberta social science expert Carla Peck, who has been heavily critical of the project, expects to see a conflict between Edmonton public school administrators and the province.

“I think there might be some rocky roads ahead of us. When you have pretty much an entire board of directors, where almost all the members are in the same position with regard to the curriculum, and who oppose the curriculum as it is currently written, then the minister will face a certain setback when it is time to implement it, ”she said.

She is happy to see that so many directors have pledged to oppose it, but says the new board still needs to be strong in advocating for the changes. “It would be easy for the government to say, ‘That’s the old council’s point of view and maybe the new council doesn’t.’ “

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Nicole Sparrow, spokesperson for Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, said the government has always made it clear that it wants comments on the program, noting its engagement process is currently in progress. She hopes Edmonton public schools will participate.

“With many new school trustees elected across the province, we look forward to continuing this collaborative work to strengthen the interim curriculum,” she said in an email.

Sparrow also pointed out that the K-6 working group included around 100 teachers and that 380 teachers are currently involved in the pilot project.

“Teachers have been and will continue to be involved every step of the way as we continue the one-year review process,” she said.

SOS spokesman Wing Li said the election was a de facto referendum on the draft program and hoped administrators would advocate sending it back for a complete rewrite: “It is clear that the program was the one of the main problems so people have talked.

The Alberta Teachers’ Association also reiterated its criticism of the project ahead of the election, calling it unsuitable for classrooms.

lboothby@postmedia.com

@laurby

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