Montreal

Parents' group slams EMSB's decision to use controversial new history course

A parents' group is panning the English Montreal School Board's decision to use the province's new high school history course next year, saying the curriculum should be put on hold while consultations take place.

Numerous English-language school boards opt to use new pilot curriculum for Secondary III next year

The EMSB has decided to go ahead with the new history curriculum for its Secondary III classes. (Google Maps)

A parents' group is panning the English Montreal School Board's decision to use the province's new high school history course next year, saying the curriculum should be put on hold while consultations take place.

The curriculum, which is being piloted in some classrooms this year, does not adequately represent the experience of minorities and Aboriginal peoples, critics say.

Andrew Ross, a founding member of Parents for a Democratic EMSB, said he was surprised the school board opted to go ahead with the new course for Secondary III.

"We have significant problems with a program that has been acknowledged to be flawed suddenly being put into our schools, especially since these are our children that are being taught," he said in an interview.

Ross said his group wants the EMSB and other English-language school boards to "put the brakes" on the new curriculum.

Lester B. Pearson and the Eastern Townships School Board have also confirmed they will use the new curriculum.

Decision taken after 'much deliberation'

Education Minister Sébastien Proulx announced last month that the course, which was originally slated to be in all Secondary III classrooms next fall, would remain in the pilot project phase for another year while changes were made to better reflect Quebec's cultural diversity.

He later indicated the changes would only be minor and that any school wishing to use the new pilot curriculum would be permitted to do so.

Chenelière Éducation has published a sample of its new history text book online. (Chenelière Éducation)
The decision came as publishers announced they had already completed their new text books. Training dates for the new curriculum are also already set for later this month.

Several English-language school boards, including the EMSB, expressed concern they would miss out on the new material and training if they didn't use the new course.

In a letter to EMSB teachers obtained by CBC News last week, Sandra Furfaro, the board's director of educational and technology services, said the decision to go ahead with the new course was "taken after much deliberation."

According to Furfaro, the decision to use the new curriculum will make it easier for students to transfer from one school to another, allow for the purchase of new text books subsidized by the Education Ministry and provide teachers with opportunities for professional development.

The new curriculum was first developed under the previous Parti Québécois government. It was meant to replace the 2006 edition of the provincial curriculum, which faces criticisms of its own, including repetition.

The new curriculum breaks up the required history course over Secondary III and IV.

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