EDMONTON, Alberta, February 22, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Alberta’s United Conservative Party (UPS) leader has promised to halt the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) sweeping curriculum overhaul if elected premier in the coming spring election.
“We’ll expand school choice because conservatives recognize that parents, not politicians, are the primary educators of their children,” Jason Kenney told delegates at an “election readiness” convention last weekend, to loud applause and cheers.
“We will stop the NDP's ideological rewrite of the school curriculum and we will consult with parents and experts…and parents are experts, by the way,” Kenney interjected after interrupted by cheers, “to develop a modern curriculum that is focused on essential knowledge and skills, instead of political agendas and failed teaching fads.”
However, Kenney has broken previous education related promises to parents. Last year, parents were dismayed when he backed down on his pledge to support parental rights policies championed by his base, specifically regarding notification of parents when their child joins after-school clubs, including “gay-straight alliances.”
“Let me be absolutely stone-cold clear: a United Conservative government will not be changing law or policy to require notification of parents when kids join GSAs,” Kenney said at that time.
During his Feb. 16 speech to delegates, the UCP leader also promised to scrap Alberta’s carbon tax, implement a “job creation tax cut”, repeal NDP’s Bill 6, or the farm safety act, and cut regulations his party says are choking small businesses and fuelling unemployment, the CBC reported.
Alberta must hold an election by law no later than May 31, and there’s speculation NDP Premier Rachel Notley will call one after her scheduled March 18 throne speech, reported Global News.
NDP Education Minister David Eggen denounced Kenney’s statements as “a drive-by shooting on our curriculum,” leading the UCP leader to counter that his party believes the curriculum should be updated, but his government would “pause” the process and consult parents, the CBC reported.
Eggen announced the six-year, $64 million revamp in June 2016, confirming then that topics would include climate change, gender identity and sexual orientation, Canadian Press reported at that time.
Concerns over the curriculum rewrite arise in large part from NDP’s aggressive promotion of the LGBTQ agenda in schools, including its November 2017 Bill 24 that bans schools from telling parents when their child joins a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA).
Shocking testimony on the consequence of the bill emerged in December during a court challenge to the law launched by concerned parents and the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedom (JCCF).
Children were taken without their parents’ knowledge or consent to off-school GSAs, and given graphic and sexually explicit material on how to have “gay” sex, as reported by the Calgary Herald’s Licia Corbella and LifeSiteNews.
Eggen and the NDP have also targeted the province’s faith-based schools, homeschooling, and publicly funded Catholic school system.
The minister abruptly shut down Alberta’s largest Christian homeschooling operation in October 2016 over allegations of financial misconduct and breach of provincial laws. A judge restored the operation’s funding in January.
Premier Notley declared in October 2017 that a proposed Catholic version of the province’s sex-ed curriculum upholding Catholic moral teaching was “unacceptable” and “not on.”
Eggen issued a ministerial order this December to 28 private religious schools warning he will cut their funding for alleged non-compliance with GSA legislation, the CBC reported.
The ministry had sent a letter to the schools telling them to remove faith-based statements from their provincially-mandated anti-bullying policies, or face defunding or loss of accreditation, the JCCF reported in October.
Dubbed the “rainbow reprimand,” the NDP letter highlighted as unacceptable “language which suggests alternative viewpoints are not equally legitimate, which is disrespectful of diversity” — including the word “truth,” reported the Calgary Herald’s Corbella.
The NDP has been criticized for shrouding the curriculum overhaul in secrecy, raising further suspicions the rewrite will be long on indoctrination and short on basics.
After parts of the curriculum were leaked to media in July, Eggen published the working draft of phase one of the overhaul — Kindergarten to Grade 4 — online, the Toronto Star reported. Kenney skewered the draft in a video as “the result of a left-wing ideology that is partly based on this thing called ‘intersectionality’ or ‘critical race theory,” and promised to “shred the curriculum.”
The final phase one version was posted online in October and retired teacher and principal Richard Dietrich blasted it as “a procedural roadmap for manipulating student values. Indoctrination, might be a better term.”
Donna Trimble of parents’ rights group Parents for Choice in Education says one principle of curriculum development is that “schools are meant to play a supportive role to parents in the areas of values and moral development.” Parents are denied choice when governments “fund resource or enforce mandatory curriculum outcomes that coerce teachers to impose an ideological perspective” on students contrary to parents’ values, she told LifeSiteNews in an email. She pointed to Alberta's Gr 7-12 public schools is the PRISM Toolkit, as a “concerning example.”
Published by the Alberta Teachers' Association with funding from the NDP, the 150-page teaching resource “is built on an explicit premise that any binary understanding of gender is ‘overly simplistic and often wrong’, ‘misleading’, ‘exclusionary and harmful’ ,” Trimble wrote.
How can a resource that “legitimizes only one view as accurate” on “such a profoundly sensitive topic of sexuality and gender” be considered “for the good of all students,” she questioned.
PCE is willing to “work with any political party who will work with us to ensure parental choice in education is upheld in the area of curriculum development,” Trimble told LifeSiteNews.