By Medicine Hat News Opinion on February 6, 2020.
Re: “Education, UCP style,” Feb. 4
It’s unfortunate that Jeremy Appel’s editorial attempts to attack and discredit the wealth of knowledge and experience of the members of Alberta’s Curriculum Advisory Panel. The panel’s membership includes more than 30 years of teaching experience, three professors serving in faculties of education and three individuals who served senior leadership positions at post-secondary institutions.
Readers should know that Mr. Appel did not take the time to ask any questions when he called into the media availability following the release of the panel’s report, nor did he reach out to my office for any follow-up. Had Mr. Appel taken the opportunity to ask a question, he would have learned that the panel believes our students need an education that ensures they thrive in an environment of rapid economic, social and global change. This is the basis of the panel’s recommendations. They outlined a vision that would prepare our students to make “meaningful contributions to the world.” What parent doesn’t want that for their children?
The panel’s recommendation to ensure “a balance of perspectives with respect to the importance of Alberta’s resource-rich economic base in relation to the impact on the economy, families, services and government” is eminently reasonable. Ensuring our kids have a thorough understanding of the economy that they are growing up in will provide them with the knowledge they need to succeed in our province.
Mr. Appel also called into question my position around climate change. I’m not sure what is unclear about my belief that climate change is real, but let me be unequivocal. The science is clear and we must act to address the threat of climate change, not just locally – but globally. This is why our curriculum will address the issue of climate change in a comprehensive manner. It is absolutely essential that we prepare our students to be good stewards of our land, water and air.
But climate change must be taught in a way that prepares our students to address the issue rationally, not in a way that purposely seeks to cause fear and anxiety. There is no room in our classrooms for radical activists, like Extinction Rebellion, whose demands include shutting-down Alberta’s oil and gas sector by 2025.
Albertans elected our government to remove activist bias from our curriculum, broaden consultation, and end the focus on discovery learning. The panel’s recommendations are helping us move forward on these commitments. I am proud of the work that they did, and am looking forward to hearing from Albertans through our public engagement, which can be found at http://www.alberta.ca/vision-for-student-learning-engagement.aspx.
Adriana LaGrange is the minister of education and MLA for Red Deer-North.