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September 19, 2018

United Conservative statement on Tzeporah Berman and the ATA

New revelations that two important branches of the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) – the Social Studies Council (SSC)[1] and the Global, Environmental and Outdoor Education Council (GEOEC)[2] – are honouring controversial anti-Alberta activist Tzeporah Berman with a keynote speech at an upcoming event raise serious questions about the NDP’s curriculum reform. In response, UCP Education Critic Mark Smith has issued the following statement:

“Again and again, we hear from parents that work in Alberta’s ethical oil & gas sector who are concerned that their children are being taught that mom and dad are destroying the planet. We’ve heard similar concerns from everyday teachers that are also worried about ideological agendas creeping into the classroom. The teachers’ union bosses honouring Tzeporah Berman – and before that, David Suzuki – only heightens fears that this problem is going to get worse.

“The ATA is integrally involved in the NDP’s curriculum reform.[3] While the NDP contends that the teachers’ union bosses honouring Ms. Berman should in no way reflect on their curriculum changes[4], the NDP also won’t let us know who is involved in the curriculum review[5]. As a result, Alberta parents are left wondering if the individuals who decided to honour Ms. Berman are also involved writing the new curriculum.

“A Government official previously stated that the objective of the curriculum reform was to turn students into ‘agents of change.’[6] Given Ms. Berman’s previous comments on Alberta and our energy industry, one is left wondering if this is the type of change the Government had in mind. The NDP could help alleviate parents’ fears by finally being transparent with who is writing the new curriculum.”

“The United Conservative Party has nothing but respect for everyday teachers. I say this as a former social studies teacher and former member of the ATA myself. But the teachers’ union bosses have done no favours to those who care deeply about providing an objective education by honouring Ms. Berman. The UCP believes that balance and objectivity are critical in our education system, instead of ideology and dogma.”

 

[1] “The Social Studies Council (SSC) seeks to promote the study of social studies in Alberta and constantly improve the teaching of social studies.” https://tinyurl.com/y8fvlh96

[2] “The Global, Environmental & Outdoor Education Council (GEOEC) is an interdisciplinary specialist council of the Alberta Teachers’ Association.” https://www.geoec.org/aboutgeoec.html

[3] “Teachers and academics from across Alberta, including 11 from the Northwest Territories and four from Nunavut, have been nominated by the Alberta Teachers’ Association, school districts and universities to form eight curriculum working groups organized by subject.” (Edmonton Journal, February 8, 2017)

[4] “Her upcoming speech has no bearing on the curriculum work being overseen by Minister (David) Eggen…” (Premier’s Director of Communications Cheryl Oates, Calgary Herald, Sept. 17, 2018)

[5] Metro Calgary, Jan. 26, 2017, https://www.pressreader.com/canada/starmetro-calgary/20170126/281479276132507

[6] Edmonton Journal, May 23, 2017, https://edmontonjournal.com/news/politics/david-staples-new-social-studies-curriculum-pushes-social-change-not-history