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Say no to oil companies shaping Alberta’s curriculum

The Council of Canadians opposes the involvement of oil companies in the drafting of the curriculum for Alberta’s schoolchildren.

The Edmonton Journal has reported that oil corporations – including Syncrude, Cenovus and Suncor – are to be consulted on the overhaul of the educational curriculum for Kindergarten to Grade 12 students in Alberta. “Specifically, Syncrude and Suncor are listed under a working group being led by the Edmonton public school board in the K-to-3 redesign.”

Alberta’s Education Minister Jeff Johnson says, “We want the economy involved in the education system”. But Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow counters, “Teaching children one world view of the economy trains them to accept the corporate world without question. Teaching the values of individual free enterprise prepares the students to adopt corporate loyalty – mission, uniform, company song, corporate culture and all – over loyalty to group, class, country or union.”

In the news report, Greenpeace campaigner Mike Hudema says, “It’s the job of the government and teachers to present well-balanced views on different issues and subjects within Alberta and having Syncrude and Suncor as explicit partners in the redesign at least gives the impression that the table is not balanced.” And SumOfUs says, “There is absolutely no reason why any company should be involved in designing our kids’ education — let alone three of the most polluting corporations in the tar sands industry.”

Twenty years ago, Barlow wrote in Class Warfare: The Assault on Canada’s Schools (co-authored with Heather-jane Robertson) that, “Canadians are engaged in a struggle over their institutions that is taking on the characteristics of class warfare. On one side stand those who have embraced the free market as the means and purpose of participation in public life. On the other are those who must live with the effects of a system dedicated, by definition, to the acquisition of privilege and profit.”

The Edmonton Journal article concludes, “Three sessions to bring all of the partners together around the same table have tentatively been scheduled over the next six months. …The Alberta government has embarked on an ambitious rewrite of its Kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum and expects the changes to be rolled out by the 2016 school year.”

To express your opposition to this plan, please write Minister for Alberta Education – Jeff Johnson (Member of the Legislative Assembly for Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater) – at Education.Minister@gov.ab.ca.