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Education in Alberta: A Call to Action

If you follow me on twitter, you'll know I've been kicking up a bit of a stink lately about corporate involvement in Alberta Education's curriculum redesign. I'm not going to re-hash those arguments in this post but if you're interested, you can check out my specific thoughts on that topic here.

I would like to use this post as a bit of a "call to action" for Alberta teachers, parents, educational researchers, students, professors, and any concerned community members to resist the relationship that Alberta Education has with any corporate partner.

For too long, the narrative around education in this province has been dictated by politicians, columnists, and generally those who are not on the front lines of education. With the recent revelations that corporations have input (what that input is is still unclear at the moment) we need to remind Albertans that our core values do not align with the corporate interest of Syncrude, Apple, or CISCO. I would argue that most Albertans are concerned with an education system that  allows students to grow into critically thinking, independent, hard working, and problem solving citizens who care about the community and world they live in.

We need to remember that education is a pillar of democracy. We need to work with students to infuse democratic ideals into their lives so they can continue and build upon the legacy of democracy within Alberta. Unfortunately, even though many Albertans benefit from the corporately controlled oil sands, a corporations values do not align with democracy. The only reason a corporation does anything is to satisfy their bottom line of increasing the profit margin for shareholders. It is clear that the logic of business and education do not go hand in hand. Education is not a profit making institution and should not be treated as such.

If we are a province that wants to commit itself to democracy and social justice, then we really need to think long and hard about any relationship we have with corporations in our education system. As many Albertans benefit from the "economic boom" of the oil sands, many First Nations people do not. Check out this article for more details.

With the Truth and Reconciliation Commission happening later this week in Edmonton, it's time our education system take seriously the fact that we operate on treaty territory and need to respect the history and legacy of the peoples who have come before us. How can we involve a corporation who has played a part in damaging First Nations land and cultures to be a "partner" in our curriculum redesign. Instead, we should be embracing and learning from Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing. Many of us work with FNMI students and need to discover new ways of engaging, respecting, and working with those students to give them an education that will be a small part in the long struggle of fighting for justice for all people.

If you feel compelled to resist this relationship of corporate involvement in Alberta Education just start by talking with colleagues, friends and family about why this is an important issue. I would also like to start meeting with folks in the Edmonton area to talk about how we can take back the conversation about our profession and convince Alberta Education that ANY corporate involvement in education is dead wrong. If you feel the same way I do, or can connect with anything I have mentioned, please feel free to e-mail me, connect with me on twitter, or just leave a comment below. I would love to start connecting people who share the same democratic values of education and would like to begin advocating for them.

Even if you disagree with a large portion of what I said, I would like to engage with you as well. It's essential that if teachers are to assert themselves as a larger voice within the mainstream conversation of education that we take the time to listen and learn from each other. We all have something to bring to the table, so let's start talking!

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