September 20th, 2019

Zero current teachers on curriculum review panel

By JEREMY APPEL on August 24, 2019.

The ATA has been left worried after the provincial government shut them out over curriculum panel.

jappel@medicinehatnews.com@MHNJeremyAppel

The provincial government unveiled an advisory panel Thursday focused on re-evaluating the K-12 curriculum that has been put on hold until further notice.

The problem, according to the Alberta Teachers Association, is that there isn’t a single K-12 teacher on it.

The 12-member panel is chaired by former Edmonton Public Schools superintendent Angus McBeath, with Jen Panteluk, former CEO of Junior Achievement of Northern Alberta and Northwest Territories, serving as vice chair.

The other members are:

– Sharon Carry, former president and CEO of Bow Valley College;

– Glenn Feltham, president and CEO of Northern Alberta Institute of Technology;

– Paulette Hanna, associate vice-president, academic, at Red Deer College and a former superintendent with the Red Deer Catholic School Division, where Education Minister Adriana LaGrange used to serve as a trustee;

– Keray Henke, former Alberta Education deputy minister;

– University of Alberta education professor Martin Mrazik;

– Careers: The Next Generation CEO Andy Neigel;

– Miles Smit, co-founder of the for-profit online Petarch Institute;

– Amy von Heyking, an education professor at the University of Lethbridge;

– Nhung Tran-Davis, a family doctor who founded Children of Vietnam Benevolent Foundation;

– Ashley Berner, deputy director, Institute for Education Policy John Hopkins School of Education.

Cypress-Medicine Hat UCP MLA Drew Barnes says the panel’s purpose is to consult with a wide cross section of Albertans with an interest in education.

“Certainly, the government will have the final say, but let’s get the best information and best advice we can,” he said, praising its composition.

“I liked what I saw. We’ve got some people that have good experience in education, good experience with families, schools and children, and I think we’re on the right step to ensuring that Albertan education stays as competitive as possible.”

Over the weekend, the government announced it was scrapping a memorandum of understanding that guaranteed the ATA a co-leadership role in re-working the curriculum.

Barnes told the News Wednesday that this didn’t mean teachers were being shut out of the process, but that the government was seeking to “grow the pie” by putting teachers on equal footing with other stakeholders.

In a Thursday news release, ATA president Jason Schilling said the panel’s membership indicates the government isn’t serious about treating teachers as equal partners.

The panel, he says, “manages to exclude anyone who might have had active classroom experience in the current millennium.”

“I am left to question government’s intentions around curriculum, particularly given its unilateral withdrawal from a curriculum partnership with teachers that had supported more progress in curriculum development over the last three years than over the two previous decades and now its deliberate exclusion of active teachers from the advisory panel,” Schilling said.

“Nonetheless, I will give my commitment, on behalf of Alberta teachers and their association, to be as helpful as we can be or, at least, are allowed to be.”

Barnes says he hopes the panel “listens to all good ideas,” including those of the ATA.

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