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'Looks like something from the 1950s': Ditch the Draft protests held across Alberta


Across the province, many Albertans banded together Saturday to protest implementing the UCP government's new curriculum draft in elementary classrooms this fall.

In March, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced that the new math and English curriculums would be taught to students from kindergarten to Grade 3. All K-6 students would have a newly designed physical education draft. Final versions of those curriculums are to be made available to teachers for review and planning in April.

According to the province, Grades 4 to 6 will see revised math and English language arts subjects in September 2023.

Rallies were held in Edmonton, Calgary, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, and Red Deer, where protesters called for a pause in introducing new curriculums in classrooms this fall and for the province to return to the drawing board.

Curriculum renewal in Alberta began in 2010, then under a Progressive Conservative government, with the Inspiring Education initiative that set high-level ideas for how to improve education in the province.

"So this process has been going on for a long time," said Carla Peck, a professor of social studies education at the University of Alberta.

"Unfortunately, when the UCP picked up the baton, they didn't bother considering all the excellent work that had been done previously," she added. "They decided that they knew best and that they were going to try and do it themselves."

In her eyes, the curriculum represents a step back, emphasizing memorization of concepts instead of promoting critical and creative thinking.

"The curriculum itself looks like something from the 1950s with long lists of information, disconnected from big ideas and concepts," she told CTV News Edmonton. "It's really going to look like a curriculum that maybe grandparents in the province will remember where they had to memorize all kinds of information and regurgitate it on a test.

"That's not good enough for Alberta students and that's not good enough for the kind of world that we have today where we need problem solvers, critical thinkers," Peck added.


Katherine Stavropoulos, LaGrange's press secretary, told CTV News in a statement that the province "respects Albertans' democratic right to peacefully protest" and that the government has been taking feedback from stakeholders.

"Over the past year, we have been listening to feedback from Albertans, education partners and piloting school authorities on the draft K-6 curriculum," Stavropoulos said. "We committed to a transparent and open year-long review process for curriculum and we kept that promise."

Stavropoulos added that feedback prompted changes in four subject areas, including adjusted implementation timelines and a new design blueprint for K-6 social studies.

"Parents have been clear that they expect our education system to provide their children with a strong foundation of essential knowledge and skills and that is exactly what our government intends to deliver," she said.

"Students deserve to be learning from the best curriculum possible. The steps we are taking now will ensure our students are learning from an updated curriculum that prepares them for success in the future.”

A protester stands with a sign at the Ditch the Draft rally in Edmonton on April 2, 2022 (CTV News Edmonton).

Jason Schilling, Alberta Teachers' Association president, said the curriculum is not age-appropriate and introduces concepts without a long-term vision.

"There are some subjects, for instance like math, have some concepts that are traditionally junior high concepts brought down into elementary which will just cause confusion and students not to be able to do those concepts," he said.

Teachers, curricular development experts, Indigenous groups, and Francophone communities have widely criticized the draft curriculum.

"It's very Eurocentric," Schilling said. "It doesn't address Indigenous cultures and ways of knowing in a respectful manner, and it's just outdated.

"It's actually taking our students back and not moving them forward, and teachers, parents, and students want to see a curriculum that is modern and focused on their future, not the past."

One of those teachers is Katrina Schoepp, whose oldest turns five in August. 

"I can't even bring myself to send her to kindergarten with this curriculum," Schoepp said. "The pressure they want to place on kids in kindergarten in terms of reading and how they're proposing to teach it is horrifying."

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jessica Robb Top Stories

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