Brian Jean pledges to rid education system of NDP's 'ideological curriculum'

Brian Jean says if he becomes Alberta’s next premier, parents will continue to have choices in how they school their children and a curriculum that's focused on the basics.

'Alberta is one of the greatest places in the world, and our students need to be taught why that is'

United Conservative Party leadership candidate Brian Jean says Alberta's primary education curriculum needs to return to a focus on the basics. (CBC)

Brian Jean says if he becomes Alberta's next premier, there would continue to be choice for parents in how they educate their children.

The United Conservative Party leadership contender says those choices would include everything from home schooling and private schools to public and charter schools.

"We want to encourage them to choose the best model," he said Monday at a campaign event in Calgary, where he revealed his education platform.

Jean was asked why he thinks the right to school choice is under threat from the NDP government.

"We've seen signals, clearly, from the NDP, over the last few months, I would say over the last year, that they are desirous of having one model for all students," he said.

However, the government has not proposed any policy changes along those lines, he acknowledged.

"They haven't as of yet, just clear signals," he said.

Jean said he would also "reverse any ideological curriculum changes the NDP make" and replace them with a renewed emphasis on core knowledge and skills.

"We would focus on enhancing the curriculum from an Alberta perspective, by improving financial, historical and energy literacy," he said.

"Alberta's the best province in the best country in the world, and our students need to be taught exactly that."

Curriculum review not transparent

Jean said the NDP's ongoing, six-year curriculum review is unacceptable because it's not being done transparently.

"We don't know where it's going. We don't even know who's doing it," he said.

"From what we have seen in the social studies curriculum, there is far more emphasis on ideological social change than in preserving what makes Alberta one of the best places to live in human history," Jean's platform says.

The NDP says new curriculum material will be developed to teach students financial literacy, climate change, computer coding, and the history of indigenous people and residential schools.

Jean says he would assess what its findings were so far before deciding whether to cancel the review.

A government led by him would also restore the provincial achievement tests in Grade 3 and keep them in Grades 6 and 9 "so parents and educators have a better sense of how students are developing against an objective standard," the platform says.