Education Curriculum

"What are your plans for fixing the education system to remove politics from the classroom and get back to basics teaching children real math, strong language and grammar skills, and that failure is a reality of life and a chance to learn?"

This is one of the key reasons I'm running. I'm deeply concerned about the NDP's ideological plan for our education system. I think there's already too much politics in our classrooms. I meet parents all the time who are mystified about their kids coming home accusing them of killing the planet because they work in the energy industry, for example, or coming home and telling them who they should vote for based on what their teachers told them.

I meet parents and teachers every day who find this growing trend towards politicization in the classroom somewhat troubling. I'm deeply concerned that it will only accelerate under the NDP's curriculum rewrite, which is happening in secret and behind closed doors. For some weird reason, the NDP refuses to release the names of these so-called experts that they are consulting in this curriculum rewrite.

But we do know one thing, they have released a 13-page draft outline of the new K-12 social studies curriculum, which has a very heavy emphasis on all kinds of political correctness. Basically, if all you knew about Canada was from this draft curriculum, you would think that Canada is just a terrible, unjust place of colonialism and oppression. You'd think it's just an awful place. There is zero content in that 13-page draft about subjects like normative Canadian history, Alberta history or Confederation.

Here we are on the 150th anniversary of Confederation, and it's not even mentioned, not a single word about the development of parliamentary democracy, not one word about the rule of law, which is the basic premise of our legal and political systems. Not one word of economic or financial literacy. Not one single word about military history. Apparently, they're okay if kids graduate from high school never having heard about Juno Beach, Dieppe, the Battle of the Atlantic or Vimy Ridge.

I think this is deeply troubling. I can tell you this, we'll wait and see what the final outcome is, but my inclination would be to repeal the NDP curriculum changes, and do a review from square one to ensure that the education system is very focused on the transmission of critical knowledge and skills to equip young people for success in the future, and also to equip them with the ability to think critically so that they can come to their own conclusions on moral, political, and ethical questions. We need to teach young people how to think–give them the basic knowledge with which to think–but not tell them what to think, and certainly not in a politically-loaded fashion.

By the way, another way that we can counteract this creeping politics in the classroom is through a strengthening of our tradition of school choice, where parents get to choose the form of education most suited to their children. This recognizes the uniqueness of every child and the value of this pluralism of many different choices in our education system. If you have a plurality of choices, then you can ensure that you can pick a program that responds to the unique aptitudes or interests of your child. That's one of ways to keep the whole system more accountable, as well through the kind of positive internal competition of school choice, which has helped to lead Alberta to have some of the highest standardized test score outcomes in the developed world.

One area, however, where we are now lagging is in mathematics. We have seen a troubling decline in numeracy, or what you might call math literacy, over the past decade in standardized test scores starting directly from the moment that discovery math was introduced into our schools as a method of instruction. So, I think we need to undo the catastrophe of discovery math. We need to return to tried and tested methods of instruction, as opposed to pursuing pedagogical fads that end up treating students like guinea pigs.