On Tuesday it’s all over. Officially done. Leaves on the trees are starting to turn and there is a chill in the air. Yes, summer has come and gone – well, if you count two months of rain as summer – and the kids are headed back to school.
On the upside, the end of summer marks a fresh beginning. The excitement on children’s faces tells the story as they dive into a fresh batch of school supplies and look forward with eager anticipation to reconnecting with classmates.
But what is often a time of relief for parents, who quietly rejoice as the clock ticks down to that first day back to school, has been overshadowed by controversy with the long-running curriculum review.
With summer holidays in full swing, the Alberta government announced in July it was going to “pause” field-testing on the new kindergarten to Grade 4 curriculum, which was to begin in September. The UCP cited transparency concerns regarding the former NDP government’s review process which began in 2016. The UCP government said it wanted to do more consultations with parents, teachers and subject matter experts.
The politicization of education, unfortunately, is nothing new. When the NDP was elected, Rachel Notley and company were compelled to put their stamp on the curriculum. Now that the UCP is in power, it is putting the NDP's changes on hold in favour of a review. One of the UCP's election planks was challenging the NDP's curriculum changes. It should not be a surprise to anyone that the government is not prepared at this time to implement those changes.
Albertans should be weary of all the rhetoric surrounding the province's curriculum. What is described as "dozens" of teachers, teachers' aides and supporters showing up at the legislature to protest the UCP's review should not be viewed as complete public outrage and condemnation against the curriculum review. It was a small group of people making the news cycle. Do they represent the beliefs of all teachers and parents?
Instead of politicking for one side or the other, we all need to tone down the rhetoric until the review is complete. This is merely a review, and taking a sober second thought on something as important as our children’s education is prudent. We should remember that past changes to the curriculum, particularly to mathematics and English, had less than desirable results.
Let’s wait and see the results of this latest review and not get consumed by the political rhetoric being hurled by the politicians and vested interests. What really counts, and what we all want in the end, is a curriculum that meets the needs of today’s students. A curriculum that is strong in the core subjects for a rapidly changing economy, and prepares our young people to live in a tolerant and inclusive society. That’s what it should be all about. Shouldn’t it?