Minister Eggen Censors Me
Jun 12, 2016 — Dear fellow petitioners,
After countless unanswered emails and phone calls to the ministry this year, I finally received a letter from their new Deputy Minister of Education Curtis Clarke:
"Dear Dr. Tran-Davies:
Thank you for contacting us via email and with phone calls to Education staff with your concerns regarding Alberta’s current math curriculum.
As you know, Alberta Education continues to engage with education partners - including teachers, parents, students and the broader community – about the math program to further refine our mathematics curriculum to ensure it prepares young Albertans for success.
Our education partners have been instrumental in helping us in our efforts to build awareness about the changes we have made to the current math curriculum, the professional learning opportunities directed to math educators and the resources we have developed to support teachers in the classroom.
Alberta Education provides school authorities with the maximum flexibility and support to make local policy decisions and commitments, including programming. Teachers have considerable influence on overall student success, and it is their responsibility to use their professional judgement to develop learning experiences that are in the best interest of their students. Alberta Education works collaboratively with school jurisdictions across the province to ensure teachers are teaching math as outlined in our current program of studies.
While we appreciate your advocacy for student learning, conversations about teaching standards remain within the purview of the ministry and the respective school jurisdiction.
We consider the matter of how mathematics is taught at individual schools closed at this time and will not be communicating further with you on this topic."
I don't know what to say. I am taken aback by this. Actually, I am quite disturbed and upset by this. Am I being silenced? Am I being censored? Is this legal? Is it ethical? Is it democratic? Is it just? Is it right?
Can elected officials choose to close a matter to discussion when there has yet to be a satisfactory resolution to the problem? Worse yet, can a ministry of education shut out a parent for having concerns regarding the quality of her children's education.
I had no intention of lingering for three years, but I did press onward because I could not ignore the ongoing concerns that many parents and teachers were informing me of.
I would understand it if I were hurling threats and profanity at the minister and his staff, but my emails and calls have been only to request a FULL meeting, on behalf of the 20,000 petitioners, with the new NDP Minister of Education to firstly, get assurances that the new government is following through on the positive changes that we had previously effected; secondly, to convey to them the remaining ambiguity in the math curriculum that is negatively impacting our children; and thirdly, to affirm commitment that the ministry would not compromise the quality of my children's whole education by subjecting them, via the 2013 Ministerial Order, to the ill-informed Inspiring Education vision of transforming our entire system to an inquiry/discovery-based system.
Yes, I have grave concerns that doors are being shut on my children's future from the current dismantling of our once renown education system through their push for the excessive use of unproven discovery/inquiry methods, their push for excessive technology use in the classroom, their demotion of expert teachers, their gutting the curricula of knowledge/content for "competencies", their removal of standardized tests that ensured accountability, and their tearing down of school libraries.
Even if my concerns were off the wall, I feel that I as a parent have every right to pursue a satisfactory answer until I have peace of mind that my children are in good hands. Even if I were mistaken, I feel that, no matter how sick and tired of me they are, they still owe it to their electorate to respect me as a concerned parent by talking to me. Give me, as a mother, proof that you are leading my children down a good path.
However, I know that my concerns are neither unfounded nor absurd because thus far, every quantitative measurement of our children's performances correlating with the shift to more inquiry learning has shown a decline in knowledge and skill levels. I know, with nearly 20,000 other electorates, that I am not alone in my concerns.
Yet, here I am as a mother being told by the minister that my concerns don't matter.
Here I am as a mother being told that I should not ask questions.
Here I am being told that, I as a mother, am beneath them.
Here I am being told that they don't have time for a mother who has entrusted her children to them.
Here I am being told that they are not accountable to me, who elected them.
Here I am as a mother being told that the lives and future of my children don't matter.
Here I am being told that my children don't matter.
My voice is my children's voice.
If my voice don't matter, I hope yours does.
Dr. Nhung Tran-Davies
ps. A heartfelt thanks to you all for having gone on this long journey with me. I have so appreciated you and your support, your kindness and your patience with me.