Three high-level Alberta Education jobs are up for grabs in the curriculum department — in the midst of a highly controversial curriculum rewrite — and critics are concerned by a lack of specific qualifications for those who will be tasked with leading the process.
The jobs, posted publicly this month, are assistant deputy minister of the curriculum division, executive director of learning and teaching resources and executive director of high school curriculum.
None of the three jobs posted specifically requires a teaching certificate, bachelor of education or expertise in curriculum studies.
“A working knowledge of curriculum development theory, processes and principles, learning and teaching resources and professional learning requirements associated with implementing provincial curriculum in a digital environment is an asset,” reads the description for the executive director of learning and teaching resources.
With vacancies in these three positions, Alberta Education had an opportunity to get the most qualified people at the helm of the curriculum rewrite, according to the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA).
“We have high level bureaucrats who work in Alberta Education, who provide advice, who have not been in a classroom or don’t have a teaching certificate or don’t have an ed degree, and when you talk about making new curriculum, for instance having a background in education is a real asset,” said Jason Schilling, ATA president.
“A really good example of that is this new K to 6 draft curriculum. If you would have had teachers involved with that in every step of the way, you would have seen a far better product.”
Dianne Gereluk, dean of the University of Calgary’s Werklund School of Education, said given the very public rejection of the draft K-6 curriculum, the best and most qualified applicants might not want these jobs.
“If individuals do feel that this is a contested curriculum, if they feel that they’re there in namesake only and they will be associated with it, I think there would be understandable nervousness about their name being attached,” she said.
But Gereluk said it’s clear that at a “fundamental level,” the proposed curriculum needs to be scrapped.
“It has not been backed by research informed by educational scholars, either locally, nationally or internationally,” she said.
“And given the fundamental flaws, it simply needs to be started over again in a way that is actually informed by the best practices and pedagogy in curriculum and educational scholarship.”
Education Minister Adriana LaGrange was not available for an interview.
Alberta Education says it has seconded teachers and curriculum experts working in the department and it welcomes applications from any qualified candidates.
Schilling said it’s also worrying to see these jobs become vacant during a time when work on drafting curriculum — that is meant to start being taught in Alberta classrooms as early as next fall — is ongoing and likely at a key juncture.
“One of the things that we’ve talked about with the draft curriculum is the fact that there were no resources that were put together when the draft came out. It was, ‘We’re still in development. We’re still working on this. We’ll work with the teachers who are drafting our pilot in the curriculum and this pilot phase,'” he said.
“Well, if you don’t have people who are working in Alberta Education in that file who are in charge of that, it begs the question of who is looking at this then? Because you are field testing a curriculum right now without supports for resources in English and in French. Someone should be in charge of that.”
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