Public School Boards' Association of Alberta president asks LaGrange to delay rollout of draft K-6 curriculum

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The Public School Boards’ Association of Alberta is calling on the province to delay the rollout of the draft K-6 curriculum over concerns it could further compromise wellness of students and school communities.

In a letter obtained by Postmedia written to Education Minister Adriana LaGrange on Wednesday, Public School Boards’ Association of Alberta (PSBAA) president Cathy Hogg said the province should consider the challenges students, staff and families have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, and “pause the release of the new curriculum until its next term or delay the validation process for another year.”

Hogg wrote that while schools and administrators have been navigating the unprecedented situation, there are concerns to consider.

“There is a question regarding adding another element that will take a great deal of time, effort, and money to accommodate,” she said.

“That is coupled with the fact that we do not know how long COVID will last and, in the big picture, how our students have been impacted. Adding another new normal has the potential to further compromise the wellness of our students and our communities.”

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Hogg also asked that LaGrange welcome and consider all feedback from all school boards on the proposed curriculum, even if they do not pilot it.

“Our administrators are directing this work in their divisions, not to be oppositional, but to be able to offer commentary that can support a successful implementation of a new curriculum for Alberta,” Hogg wrote. “We believe that their work and feedback will be based on a children first philosophy, which we know you appreciate.”

She said the association wants the implementation of a new curriculum to be a success for students and the province. However, given the pandemic, postponing it would be well-received by Albertans.

“The fact that we are in an enviable position on the world education stage affords us the opportunity to pause, allow COVID to pass, evaluate its impacts, and give our communities a chance to heal and recover,” said Hogg.

Education spokeswoman Nicole Sparrow provided LaGrange’s letter in response to Hogg’s. LaGrange said she believes next year will be successful and while it may take some work, Albertans will be “up to the challenge.”

We will be introducing the draft curriculum to some Alberta classrooms, and we will continue working with all school authorities, all teachers and all Albertans to continue refining this curriculum in advance of the 2022 implementation.

LaGrange also noted that all school divisions will be able to provide feedback on the curriculum, whether they pilot it or not.

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“Piloting allows teachers to work with the curriculum and provide feedback on how students respond to the information and provide feedback on the volume of information,” she said.  “As Minister of Education, I support the autonomy of school boards, and their right to make this decision.”

Meanwhile, on Thursday evening, Black Gold school board voted unanimously not to pilot the draft curriculum, becoming the 31st school board in the province to do so.

Instead, the division will provide feedback to the ministry through an academic validation process.

“The Division will focus on student’s current learning needs and their mental health and wellbeing as our schools navigate the ongoing public health crisis,” said Board of Trustees Chair Devonna Klaassen in a news release. “This past year has been challenging, exhausting and very disruptive for our students, teachers, staff and their families.”

ajunker@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/JunkerAnna

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