ROCKY VIEW COUNTY— Rocky View Schools has opted to not participate in Alberta's controversial draft K-6 Curriculum pilot.
The Board of Trustees and administration cited the continued impact of the COVID-19 impact as the impetus for the decision.
Rocky View Schools superintendent Greg Luterbach said the school board will still provide feedback on the document to the Alberta Government based on insights provided from staff members, but the curriculum will not appear in classrooms.
“Teachers are curriculum experts and they’re the ones that bring it to life in the classroom and those are the voices we really want to hear from in Rocky View and we want to share that back with the government,” Luterbach said. “These will be documents that shape what happens in classrooms for years, and years, and years to come. We want to be part of the solution to help make sure we are building Albertans that can be successful in a world that is always changing and emerging."
Taking on a new curriculum and new subjects is a lot of work at the best of times, Luterbach said. Right now schools are already working extremely hard dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many teachers are feeling fatigued and overwhelmed by COVID-19 and the constant challenges they face in ensuring the safety and education of their students, community, themselves and their families.
He noted no COVID-19 vaccines have currently been approved for school-aged students and health measures will likely be in place for the foreseeable future in schools. The pandemic will continue to impact schools into the next school year making it difficult to pilot and provide feedback on the document via classroom experience.
“When you’re doing that on top of a new curriculum, we just thought that was too much,” Luterbach said.
Other school boards, including the Calgary Board of Education, have opted out of the pilot project. The Calgary Board of Education cited the significant impact of the pandemic and the immediate learning needs of students in its decision to not participate.
Luterbach said they have spoken with other districts to get a sense of the attitude toward the drafts. He added there is a shared desire to provide feedback to the government on the draft curriculum.
The board will provide feedback to the government based on assessments by educators. Teachers will workshop together from across the school board to go through and assess the document.
“A Grade 2 teacher who really knows the curriculum is a way better expert at it than I am,” Luterbach said. “We want those teachers to get into that and have some honest and tough conversations.”
He added, the strong feelings voiced by Albertans in reaction to different aspects of the curriculum did factor in to Rocky View Schools' decision to not participate in the pilot.
“We were certainly were aware of it, but was it a determining factor, no,” Luterbach said.
The Rocky View Schools administrative team spent spring break digging into the curriculum. Luterbach described the document as “extremely comprehensive” given it spans seven grades and eight subject areas.
“We really tried to dig into and understand what’s there and at the same time we certainly we’re hearing from our communities, hearing from our staff about concerns they might have,” Luterbach said.
He added the school board is encouraging others to share their thoughts on the draft curriculum with the government.
“We want to hear from families and parents and groups out there to find out what they think,” Luterbach said. “What do you want to see more off in school?”
Board chair Fiona Gilbert said the updated curriculum for the province is a welcomed change in Alberta, and if utilized correctly can help build and develop the next generation of Albertans.
She noted stakeholders have raised concerns about some of the topics and approaches included in the curriculum.
“While we appreciate that the government has provided flexibility in piloting, we have heard from our administration and many parents and staff requesting that the pilot does not occur in RVS classrooms for a number of reasons. Piloting a new curriculum will only put more pressure on teachers, schools and the system while we work through recovering from the impacts of the pandemic," Gilbert said.