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Commentary: Curriculum stakes couldn’t be higher

Draft has already received fierce backlash from many critics

With the draft of the UCP government’s updated school curriculum now circulating among stakeholders and the general public, nothing less than the success of current and future Alberta students is at stake.

Outlining what students will and will not be taught for possibly years to come, the draft curriculum is certainly among the key documents presented by the current regime so far.

Whether it will pass into law in its current form, be heavily modified following the public consultation process, or be discarded outright remains anyone’s guess. 

For its part, the Kenney UCP says the new curriculum is a win-win for Alberta students and the province.

“The new curriculum delivers our commitment to Albertans to refocus learning on essential knowledge and skills in order to give our children the best possible chance at success,” said Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange.

But only days after its release, many critics of the draft are already calling it wholly unacceptable and something that should scrapped without delay.

“Tens of thousands of students, parents, school board trustees, educational experts, Indigenous leaders, Métis people and more have shared their deep concern with the draft,” said NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman.

“This draft contains outdated and offensive language, including unscientific views on climate change.”

Alberta Teachers' Association president Jason Schilling calls the draft curriculum "deeply flawed" and something the vast majority of teachers do not support.

The Kenney government has opened up the draft for teachers, parents and others to provide input over the coming months. Whether the UCP is prepared to see its new curriculum heavily modified or even scrapped after risking so much political capital on the project remains an open question. 

Nevertheless, with some recent opinion polls showing the Kenney UCP well behind the NDP in terms of public support in Alberta, there is now a realistic possibility that a new regime will be elected in 2023.

And if that happens, any new school curriculum the UCP manages to put in place over the coming months would likely be thrown by the wayside.

Dan Singleton is an editor  with The Albertan.

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