The Chair of the Grande Prairie and District Catholic Schools Board broadly disagrees with the suggested curriculum changes put forward by a panel of experts appointed by the United Conservative Party government. The draft, leaked to CBC Edmonton, suggests major changes to areas of education, including the removal of references to both residential schools and of “equity” from the K-4 education plan.

Board Chair Michael Ouellette says leaving out residential schools from learning plans is a terrible idea.

“It’s concerning where it’s going, it’s concerning where they’re going with education in this province,” he says.” “Other provinces are so much further ahead of us with the curriculum.”

According to the recommendations by the curriculum advisory panel, students as young as eight years old should also be taught about topics including feudalism and Chinese dynasties as part of social studies courses. Ouellette says, while the panel of experts was handpicked by the government to lead the reform of education, he believes they’ve missed the chance to get insight from teachers.

“It’s the people in front of the students that know best, and I will always go back to that, you need to talk to the teachers,” he says. “I would say they’re not being brought in, not even on the panel, so I think we are missing something there.”

Ouellette believes it’s time that the education system stops being used by politicians of any stripe as part of a campaign or as a tool to try to sway voters.

“It was just changed, and all of a sudden as a different government comes in and they say they’re going to rip up the curriculum and start all over again,” he says. “Not everything they do is going to be happy, as with the previous government. ”

“They are always saying the government is putting in their slant on the curriculum, and what I’m seeing here is probably what we dealt with two years ago,” he adds, referring the former NDP government’s curriculum review.

In response to the CBC article, Press Secretary to the Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange Colin Atchinson suggested that the document is only advisory, and is not final. He also says the recommendations will be reviewed by teachers and experts in working groups this fall before the curriculum is signed off on.