Edmonton Public Schools trustee candidates asked to pledge opposition to draft curriculum

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A group representing 6,500 Edmonton public school teachers is asking potential future trustees to publicly oppose the current draft K to 6 curriculum being piloted in Alberta, and nearly three quarters of the candidates on this month’s ballot have taken the pledge.

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The Edmonton Public Local of the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) has asked trustee candidates running for election to sign a pledge making seven promises including to “publicly oppose any piloting or implementation of the new K-6 draft curriculum.”

“These new trustees need to remember that they’re also members of our community, and that they have a moral responsibility to speak up and speak against a curriculum that will essentially, we feel, put our students and the children of the people that they represent in harm’s way,” Heather Quinn, president of Edmonton Public Teachers’ Local 37, said in an interview Friday.

The vast majority of school boards in Alberta have refused to pilot the draft curriculum unveiled by the government in early 2021. The social studies curriculum in particular has faced heavy criticism, including that it is not logically sequenced, not developmentally appropriate and not reflecting diversity.

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There have been allegations of plagiarism. The Métis Nation of Alberta has called for a rewrite and the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations rejected it.

Last week the ATA released a report that includes feedback from 6,500 teachers calling the draft fundamentally flawed and suggesting it does not meet Alberta’s education standards.

Some Alberta school boards have agreed to pilot part but not all of what is being proposed.

At the end of September, Nicole Sparrow, press secretary for Education Minister Adriana Lagrange, said 380 teachers are currently piloting draft curriculum content “and will be able to provide valuable in-classroom feedback.”

The government has repeatedly said approximately 100 teachers from across the province were included in a working group to help come up with the draft and that it was created by subject-matter experts.

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The pledge goes on to promise that the signatories will actively weave calls from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into classrooms, advance anti-racism education, support a student’s right to join a gay-straight alliance at school without their parents being notified, advocate for increased funding, petition the government to fully fund specialized supports for disabled students and insist that tax dollars be used to support the public school system only.

By Friday afternoon, 28 of the 40 candidates running for public school trustee in one of nine wards in Edmonton have signed.

Quinn said the Local decided to create the pledge, instead of using the standard practice of sending questionnaires to candidates, as a way of trying to get more direct answers.

“There are many that are very good at speaking their way around questions, and not really completely answering questions,” she said.

“So we figured, what if we come up with the ideals that we see as encompassing the values of education that we think are important, and sort of summarize those, put those out, then they can essentially say yes or no, and sign their name.”

— With files from Lisa Johnson

ajoannou@postmedia.com

twitter.com/ashleyjoannou

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