Apparently it wasn't horrible enough. They actually added some errors in.
On March 29, 2021, the Alberta Government released their draft curriculum for Kindergarten through Grade 6 in all subject areas including music. It was demonstrably horrible.
Apparently it wasn't horrible enough. They actually added some errors in.
And there is no turning back.
The Northwest Territories have been using Alberta's curriculum for 40 years, maybe longer. But now they've lost trust in the Alberta Education system's ability to provide relevant curriculum.
The office of the Education Minister, Adriana LaGrange downplays it, saying that she understands why the Northwest Territories would move to BC, because they have a finalized updated curriculum, and the much criticized draft curriculum in Alberta is in its "early stages".
They seem to be under the impression that once her rag of a curriculum is complete, Northwest Territories will come back. They are absolutely wrong.
The Northwest Territories were not just shopping for a curriculum, they were also shopping for a curriculum development process. While what they saw coming out of Alberta's Education system was regressive, Eurocentric, and pedagogically and developmentally inappropriate, even more damning is the absolute sham of a curriculum development process. Alberta's curriculum has been proven to be at the mercy and whim of whatever government happens to be in charge. That Alberta had the same government for over 40 years was a source of stability, but now the curriculum is being used as a political chess piece, a tool. Even more, the professionals who should be trusted to develop the curriculum are being vilified by LaGrange's office.
Our students are political tools. Our teachers are being disrespected and slandered. And the Northwest Territories sees Alberta Education treating students like tools and teachers like garbage. And they have firmly rebuked that lack of moral compass.
They have been very clear that the curriculum they wanted was designed with Indigenous knowledge as a fundamental component, not an after-the-fact tack-on. They have been very clear that they wanted their curriculum to be student-centric, designed in sound educational pedagogy. Not only have they seen in Alberta's draft document that is not the case, they also cannot trust that it will ever be the case.
Even after LaGrange announced that it is walking back many subject areas that were in the draft leaving only the still-flawed English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Physical Education and Wellness to be launched in September of 2022, that still wasn't enough to stem the bleeding.
It would have been easier and cheaper for the territory to stick to Alberta's curriculum. Apparently it is so bad here that even an underfunded government in one of the most expensive areas of the country still chose to dump it for a more expensive option.
Northwest Territories will not come back to Alberta's curriculum. Not until it sees politicians out of curriculum development. Not until it sees curriculum development placed beyond an arm's length from politicians and firmly in the purview of educational professionals.
That's what Alberta's teachers have been asking for over the past 2 years. There is no rational reason for politicians to be steering the ship. There is no rational reason for anyone who is not an educational professional to be steering the ship. Yet that is all that we have seen happen since LaGrange took office.
LaGrange thinks she can Wag the Dog.
See it happen in Alberta. Adriana LaGrange, Jason Kenney's Education Minister, has made it her mission to destabilize education. Pandemic management in schools has been dismal, Education Assistants were laid off with the excuse of recovering costs for the pandemic (and then the money was never forwarded there), and the manner in which she approached teachers got so bad they voted 99% in favor of non-confidence in the minister. The most significant complaint has been a draft curriculum that has made Albertans from all walks of life (teacher, parent, entrepreneur, and child) all cringe and cry foul. Education advocates, not the least of which being the Alberta Teachers' Association, have been fighting for students since day 1, and it appeared as though LaGrange simply wouldn't listen.
So LaGrange has to fight back. What better way than to vilify teachers themselves?
On Thursday, December 9, 2021, LaGrange accused the Alberta Teachers' Association of protecting a child-abusing teacher. She cited as evidence a lawsuit that was filed against the Calgary Board of Education for not exercising due diligence in protecting CBE students from that teacher.
Please note, the lawsuit is against the CBE, not the ATA. Why not the ATA? Because the ATA did what they were supposed to do.
The ATA is not the police. It is not the employer (school boards are). It is not the individual responsible for certification (the Education Minister is). It's responsibility is to manage it's own membership, and part of that is ensuring every teacher is fit for the classroom. That is precisely what it did.
When the teacher in question, Michael Gregory, was first found guilty of unprofessional conduct, the ATA did exactly as it was supposed to do. It suspended membership in the ATA, basically saying "you aren't part of us." Additionally, a teacher must be a member of the ATA in order to be allowed to teach in a public or separate school division. Suspending Gregory's membership took him out of the classroom. And it did this all before there were any allegations of sexual misconduct.
Then the ATA sent the report to the Calgary Board of Education, the Education Minister, and included in the report was the fact the RCMP were aware of complaints against Gregory.
So when LaGrange said "I was also appalled that the Alberta Teachers’ Association did not believe they had an obligation to report its disciplinary findings to police," adding that the ATA protected the teacher, she lied. In fact, the ATA did its best, with the powers it has, to get the teacher out of the classroom. And it was successful. Gregory never taught again.
But the lies don't stop there. LaGrange also claims there is a conflict of interest, echoed by former Education Minister Jeff Johnson, who commissioned the wildly off-key Taskforce on Teaching Excellence, leading to teachers' vote of non-confidence in him, and eventually to his shuffle out of that role. That taskforce's report was rife with errors, much like LaGrange's curriculum is, so it is of no surprise that both of them err in the assertion of conflict of interest.
The ATA does not, will not, and cannot represent a teacher under investigation. The ATA doesn't want to. It has a duty to protect the integrity of the profession, which means protecting students. If a teacher has done wrong, the ATA must represent the other 46,000 teachers who are doing right every day, over and over again. This fact is spelled out extremely clearly on the discipline process documents on the ATA website. Apparently, even though LaGrange is a fan of Wikipedia, she isn't a fan of Google.
What's crazy is that the part of the discipline process that the Minister is responsible for, policing conduct of superintendents and charter and private school teachers, is devoid of public accountability. She could decide to let a charter or private school teacher or a superintendent off the hook, and nobody would ever find out, because she doesn't have to report anything publicly. If she wants to improve discipline processes, she shouldn't be looking at the ATA who has been doing their job for decades. Instead, she should look in her own house. And the ATA has been asking for this kind of improvement to the discipline process for years.
So why would LaGrange do all this? Because she's frustrated she can't simply ram through her deeply flawed and worrisome curriculum, and force students to learn the ideology that she and other United Conservatives want students to learn. So she wants to break apart the organization of teachers, despite them being the reason Alberta continues to perform at the front of the pack in the world.
LaGrange thinks she can wag the dog. She thinks she can manipulate you into thinking she is the saviour of your children through her lies and deceit. Ever since April of 2019 when she was elected, she has consistently shown that she does not care about your children. She has fired Educational Assistants, cut funding to education, created a fully ideological and dangerous curriculum using racist consultants and plagiarism, and has not provided the necessities for operating schools through a pandemic causing not just a second wave, but also a third and fourth. She has been the last person to put "Students First", and the "Students First Act" continues her path of being anything but.
The teachers who LaGrange said she had look at the curriculum had their non-disclosure agreements expire, and they came out fighting for students the way they should. So she accuses teachers of something they didn't do, slanders the Association, and undermines teachers' credibility. Then she pulls back some of the curriculum, saying "we listened", despite 9 months of evidence to the contrary. So now she hopes that the furor around the dispicable curriculum dies down so that she can focus on union-busting. And once busted, maybe then she can return to her ideology.
The problem is that she has just called 46,000 Albertans people who don't "protect students from a predatory teacher." I take that as a very personal attack.
If you are reading this, there is a high likelihood you have met me or know me. If you do, you'll know how absolutely disgusting and ludicrous such a personal attack on me is. Then you'll think of every other teacher who has bent themselves over backwards to try to help your children make it through this pandemic with a sound education, with as little mental anguish as possible, both online and in-person (many times both at the same time), and realize just how disgusting and ludicrous such an attack is on those teachers as well.
Remember, Albertans, you're the dog. You're the loyal companion who cares about your children. And you wag your own tail. It's time to do so. Call or Email LaGrange, and tell her that any bill, especially the inappropriately named "Students First Act", that serves to diminish the ATA's role in discipline is a poor decision, because it seems to be the only leg of the discipline process that is working.
Passion or Petulance
The mayoral candidates' forum is tonight. And despite the attention the media is giving to this election, it really matters.
Reading through Jeff Langford's website, it reeks of petulance from someone who is upset he isn't getting his way. His website includes a diatribe from a developer who accuses incumbent and opponent Craig Snodgrass of not being developer friendly. And yet there are many other projects that have been completed during both of Snodgrass' mayoral terms, and many more in discussions.
Langford also bemoans issues that are not managed by Council or by a Mayor alone. As an example, it is not the Town's job to promote businesses to residents. A business should have its own marketing budget, and government should stay out of the way because it's not Town Council's job to build business. It's Town Council's job to set policies and procedures that provide the services needed for business to operate, such as water, sewer, roads, and other infrastructure. Good infrastructure makes it possible for growth, both economically and residentially. With good infrastructure in place, business builds business.
So really, a "business-friendly" mayor is, while also only being one voice on a 7-person council, a mayor that makes infrastructure, policies and procedures happen, so that business can exist however business chooses to exist.
I slide over to Craig Snodgrass' website to see if there is counterpoint. I see an explanation of every proposed development, including the one by the diatribal developer, and one who isn't willing to pay to make a plan by ... wait, who? Jeff Langford? Oh, I see. He's running to get his own way, and to make the taxpayer's pay for plans. I wonder if he realizes that in order to get his way, he still has to convince six councillors to agree with him.
When it comes to the Coal Policy, Langford has missed the point egregiously. He lightly suggests that an industry that could risk harming the environment should be avoided when possible. He suggests that an industry could be an eyesore. Not once does he come fully out and say he opposes the Coal Mining in the headwaters of the Highwood River, the location where our potable water supply comes from. He's missed the point, and proves to be an inadequate voice to an issue that can have serious health implications for residents.
But Langford doesn't care how High Riverites vote. If they vote "yes", he suggests that he'd take the $15 million that would be non-bindingly approved through the pool referendum, and direct it toward a new build (that would run between $25 and $30 million plus maintenance costs of a separate facility). He has no location planned, no design planned, no infrastructure services, no guarantee of convincing the other 6 voices on Council or the 7 voices on Foothills County Council to agree (when they already have their own facility in Aldersyde), and no plan on how to fund its maintenance after the fact, leaving High Riverites with undeniably no improvements on recreation plans for at least another 4 years if not far longer.
I find it funny how, exactly 8 years ago today, I had a similar issue with a different candidate for mayor.
What Langford is saying, basically, is "even if you vote yes to the plans they've laid out, I'm still gonna take that money and do my own plan anyway. What is that plan? Well, I'll make that up later, but only if the right people get voted in." How disrespectful of the High River voter. And how irresponsible.
After having made it through Langford's site, I have to admit I'm nervous. As I said before, had I depended upon signage to see who has the popular vote, I'd think Snodgrass was going to lose.
Reading through Craig Snodgrass's website and Facebook feed, as well as reading through his history, his passion is obvious. His work (along with the rest of the outgoing council) on the Coal Restriction Policy has been steadfast and strong, his advocacy for High River and the DRP post-flood has been incredible, and his ability to look many years into the future is obvious. Certainly this kind of vision is not without a few missteps from time to time, but one can never doubt that Snodgrass works with the idea of helping High River be a place for people to grow up, live and enjoy the winters of their lives in.
I'm not interested in taking the town backwards. Moving High River forward is not accomplished through bending to developer demands of today. We've seen what happens when we do that with the annihilation of whole developments on flood plains. And if that happens again, High River residents will undoubtedly be on the hook for it.
Moving High River forward means looking 5, 10, 25 years into the future, making a plan for what that High River looks like, and getting started with the resources we have. When you watch the forum tonight, I think you'll discover fairly quickly which person that is.
Updated - Video from the Forum Now Posted
Read the Bill before you vote no: an open letter to John Barlow, MP for Foothills
RE: Vote on Bill C-6: Third Reading – Statement posted on Facebook, June 24, 2021
June 26, 2021
Dear Mr. Barlow,
June is Pride month, a month where we bring awareness to LGBTQIA2+ issues, and celebrate people of all sexual and gender orientations, expressions and identities. So when a bill that has direct implications to this community of Canadians comes to a vote during Pride Month, one would hope that legislators would have at least read the document before they voted on it.
It is obvious to me that you did not. When being called out for not supporting this fragile community during a month when they are supposed to feel the safest, you released a statement that made that evident.
Your claim that the definition of conversion therapy is too broad is flawed and a fundamental level. At one point that may have been true, but if you had read the bill before you at third reading, you would have seen that the work of committees had resolved that issue, and the concerns of those who submitted briefs to that committee were addressed.
You state that the Canadian Psychological Association does not use the same definition as Bill C-6, and that no other professional body does. While that may be true, it is the exact definition provided to legislators by a collection of 120 academics and researchers, a link to which you have already received, but I also provide here for your convenience. Additionally, it is obvious in the Canadian Psychological Association's policy statement published in 2015 that the spirit of the definition in Bill C-6 is parallel to their own definition of conversion therapy (a link is provided below to direct you to that policy statement). Bill C-6 adheres to the spirit of the Canadian Psychological Association's definition, and you should recognize that and honour that.
By saying you think the definition is too broad, you are suggesting that there are activities that fit the definition in Bill C-6 that should not be considered "conversion therapy". By no logical leap whatsoever we can then surmise that you believe there to be a type of "practice, treatment or service designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual, to change a person’s gender identity or gender expression to cisgender or to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour or non-cisgender gender expression" that would not be harmful, as has been documented by the Canadian Psychological Association. So I continued to read your statement to determine what made you come to that conclusion, and it became obvious that you didn't read what you voted on. According to you, you even attempted to change the definition at committee and that those changes were not adopted. But they were.
Had you fully read the bill, you would have noted the amended statement immediately following the original definition.
"For greater certainty, this definition does not include a practice, treatment or service that relates to the exploration and development of an integrated personal identity without favouring any particular sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression."
You would have known with absolute clarity that your concerns of "a mental health professional, a psychiatrist, a faith leader and even a parent" being charged criminally for having "conversations on sexuality with someone including their own child" are completely unfounded. As it refers specifically to "practice, treatment or service", parents themselves are excluded from the definition. Mental health professionals, psychiatrists and faith leaders are, through this definition, enabled to have conversations on sexuality with someone so long as those conversations do not meet the criteria the Canadian Psychological Association has documented as harmful. Therefore, your contention that the definition is too broad is baseless.
I am certain that had you read the bill, you would have been able to demonstrate unequivocally your opposition to forced conversion therapy, and perhaps conversion therapy of any kind. Had you read the bill, perhaps you would have risen to speak in support of it, instead of saying nothing during the various readings and meetings, and publishing a statement that demonstrates a complete lack of regard for LGBTQIA2+ people.
You claim to be interested in creating safe spaces to deal with substance abuse, mental health and suicides and claim to be against forced conversion therapy or causing a child to undergo conversion therapy. I teach and have taught many of these youth you purport to be interested in protecting. I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that these youth in your constituency do not feel safe knowing their representative legislator has voted against banning conversion therapy. How dare you?
As a legislator, your constituents expect you to represent them. You chose to vote against Bill C-6. Having voted against it, having never said a word during readings, and having demonstrated you did not even give the amended bill due consideration, you have shown that you are not at all interested in the well-being of LGBTQIA2+ constituents in your region. Therefore, you do not represent us.
I expect better of our elected representatives. I ask that you reread Bill C-6 yourself, and not rely on word-of-mouth from your fellow CPC colleagues. Once you have reread it and recognize the blatant and obvious error of not recognizing that your concerns were addressed, I ask that you provide an apology to your constituents.
Your words were damaging, most especially to me and others in the LGBTQIA2+ community. But as we have learned, when we make mistakes in our past, there is always a path to reconcile with those who we have harmed. You just need to choose that path.
In Support of Conversion Therapy Prohibition Legislation in CanadaCanadian Psychological Association Policy Statement on Conversion/Reparative Therapy
On March 29, 2021, the Alberta Government released their draft curriculum for Kindergarten through Grade 6 in all subject areas including music.
A Grade 7-12 student who would choose to sift through this curriculum would be confused. There are a number of contradictions in the curriculum to knowledge and understandings they will have learned in their own music education up to this point. And they would be right to be confused. They would also be right to be concerned that these would be foundational concepts for learning music in their own grades.
There are many points in the draft curriculum that are simply wrong. Not philosophically wrong, not politically-motivated wrong. Simply wrong. As an example at first glance, accidentals do not tell a musician what scale a piece of music is in. That's not a philosophical issue or a politically motivated issue. That is simply wrong.
As a teacher, I am required by law to teach the curriculum the government gives me. While currently the music education curriculum is over 30 years old, there are no factual inaccuracies in it. However, should this draft curriculum not see some significant changes, I will be required by law to teach whatever is in the final published curriculum. Some teachers will be asked to pilot this draft as it is in the coming fall.
So I've decided to compile, for students' reference, a list of all the factual inaccuracies in the draft curriculum while I am still required to teach a curriculum with correct information in it. Some of the items I have identified may seem "nitpicky", but if a curriculum document has anything that confuses the truth, it needs to be clarified, regardless of how mediocre or minute the issue seems. I also offer thanks to Verna Ahner, Sarah Drew, Tim Janz, Eila Peterson and Sam Shumka, three music education colleagues who helped me to curate this list.
Please note that I will avoid issues of philosophy, pedagogy, perceptions of ideology, methodolatry (a term coined by Dr. Thomas Regelski), what constitutes "great musical works" and other subjective or critical pedagogical issues, as those items run the risk of appearing politically motivated, and while may or may not be valid arguments, are not issues of accuracy. It is not my job to take any sides, or even have the appearance of such. It is my job, however, to teach students facts.
(The only topic of subjectivity I approach is that of the definition of the term forte. It is commonly understood to mean either loud or strong, but the proper translation, and the proper approach to the term, is strong, not loud. However the word "loud" may be more appropriate depending upon the students' developmental level. I've selected the appropriate age level for using the definition of strong based on Piaget's stages of development.)
I have organized this information in the same way the draft curriculum is organized to make it easier for a student to find inaccurate information and identify it. I also encourage all Albertans to fill out the Have Your Say feedback forms as soon as possible, and share your thoughts on the curriculum with your MLA and your school board trustees.
Organizing Idea: Foundational Elements
Music literacy is developed through knowledge and application of Foundational Elements.Grade 1 Guiding Question: How can musical sounds be interpreted?
Music symbols are used to indicate the volume of sound, including f for loud and p for soft.
In Western music, dynamics are described by using Italian terms, including forte for loud and piano for soft…
Forte does not mean loud, it means strong. However, the alignment of the term “loud” is generally accepted depending on the developmental level of the student. It should be reiterated in later grades that forte is in fact “strong” instead.
A whole piece of music can include a number of sections that may be alike or different and can include AB, ABA, ABAB (sectional form), as heard in Camille Saint-Saëns, Carnival of the Animals – Fossils, in which the xylophone part is A and the clarinet solo is B
The descriptor of how the xylophone part is the A section and the clarinet solo is the B section is very inaccurate. While the original introduction of the xylophone part is an A section that happens to be repeated, there is an ascending piano/orchestral section immediately after it that would be identified as the B section, then a staccato arpeggiated section that could be identified as a C section, then the A section returns, all of which happens before a D section that would be the clarinet solo which is followed by yet another return to the A section. This is a rondo form, and the draft curriculum heavily oversimplifies its structure.
Tone has dynamics and tempo.
This is unclear, as the term “tone” has multiple meanings in music. Tone can refer to timbre and quality of sound, it can refer to a specific interval (usually an interval of a major second), or it can refer to a musical sound described as a pitch. When tone is referred to as a general concept, it usually refers to timbre and quality of sound, and in that regard a dynamic can affect tone, but tone has no relationship to tempo. A more appropriate statement would be “Music can have dynamics and tempo.”
Music dynamics that suddenly change are called accents and are indicated using the > symbol.
This is an inaccurate definition of an accent, which is an articulation, not a dynamic. An accent is not a change in dynamic, but rather a momentary emphasis on a note indicated by how the note is attacked by the performer (pressure on the bow or pizzicato tool of a string instrument, tonguing on a wind instrument, etc.). Unlike the statement suggests, it can never be a change to a lower volume.
A dynamic that changes suddenly is likely to be marked subito or sf or sp, or some variant thereof. Following such a symbol or musical direction, while the change may be sudden, it remains at that dynamic following the symbol or musical direction. Another alternative is sfz which, although is a temporary change in dynamic, is characterized by changing the volume of the entire note, not just how it is attacked. Following a sfz, the dynamic returns to the original dynamic.
The duration of a rhythm or musical sound can be extended by placing a dot next to a rhythm, such as a half note, to extend the duration of the note by one beat.
This is inaccurate. A dot next to a rhythm does not change the duration of that note by one beat. It changes the duration of that individual note it is next to by half of its original value. So a dotted half-note would match the curricular description, making the note 3 beats long (in a time signature where the quarter note gets the beat), but a dotted eighth-note is only ¾ of a beat long, not 1 ½ beats long as is suggested by the draft curriculum statement.
Dynamics direct how music should be played, and can be notated using a music symbol on the musical score, including mf to indicate mezzo-forte, which means moderately loud … ff to indicate fortissimo, which means very loud.
This is an inaccurate translation. Forte in all its forms does not mean loud, it means strong. It is developmentally appropriate at this grade level to use the term “strong” for this age group.
In Western music, Italian terms are used to label tempo, including allegro, meaning fast.
Allegro does not mean fast. It means quickly and lively. It is not only a speed marking, but also a style marking.
Music symbols (articulation markings) can indicate the duration of music notes, including; staccato and legato, phrase marks to indicate length of phrases, accents to indicate emphasis of a sound.
Articulations do not indicate the duration of music notes alone. Rather, they indicate the manner in which a note is to be played, which may include duration, but may also include emphasis and technique as well. For example, while a staccato is detached, an accent does nothing to the length of note but rather deals with emphasis.
Staccato and legato are not opposites, as is suggested by the statement in the draft curriculum. As a matter of fact, legato is not an articulation, but a style of play usually indicated by a slur. The articulation that is the best opposite to staccato is tenuto.
The treble clef indicates pitches on the staff that begin at middle C and move higher.
The pitches on the staff indicated with a treble clef are not constructed from middle C. The treble clef, also known as the "G" clef, is called this because it identifies the location of G by the line the treble clef symbol encircles. One can determine where "middle C" is based on that information, but to suggest the locations of pitches are constructed from the middle C is inaccurate.
Pitches belonging on the lines of the treble clef are labelled EGBDF.
Pitches belonging in the spaces of the treble clef are labelled FACE.
These are not rules, but are rather mnemonics to help with quick identification, much like BEDMAS is not the rule, but rather the Order of Operations is the rule that BEDMAS helps out with. The actual rule is that the musical alphabet ascends and descends from each space to each line, and line to each space, starting from the pitch identified by the clef indicated. EGBDF is the resultant letter names for the lines on a treble clef, but this should not be the manner in which students identify notes on the staff, or it sets them up for failure when having to identify notes on ledger lines.
Two or more melodies can be combined or layered to create harmony in the form of a descant, partner song, or canon, as heard in; (descant) Johann Sebastian Bach, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, (round) French folk songs Frère Jacques and Alouette, gentille alouette
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring is not a descant. A better example of a descant would be the one that appears in Sir David Willcocks' arrangement of O Come, All Ye Faithful.
While Frère Jacques is oftentimes sung as a round, Alouette, gentile alouette is not a round, and therefore is a poor example for this concept. Instead, Alouette, gentile alouette is a cumulative call and response song.
Some pitched instruments can play chords, including keyboards, barred instruments, tone chimes, ukuleles, and hand bells.
Tone chimes and hand bells are not capable of playing chords on their own. This fact is even stated properly elsewhere in the draft curriculum. Tone chimes and hand bells are capable of only playing a single note, and therefore cannot play chords, but can layer with other singular notes to create chords. While this statement here is false, this fact is mentioned correctly elsewhere in the draft curriculum.
Instrument families in Western music include the strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion.
This is no different than the 30-year-old curriculum that currently exists, which was appropriate for its time, but is no longer so. The missing instrument grouping from this list is the electrophone, or instruments that produce sound by electronic means.
Components that contribute to rhythmic structures include … double bar lines, repeat signs …
Double bar lines and repeat signs do not impact rhythmic structures as presented in the draft curriculum. The draft curriculum presents "rhythmic structures" as organized by the duration of beats within measures and measures within a phrase. Double bar lines and repeats have no influence on these structures.
The structure of the pentatonic scale omits the fourth and seventh degrees of the scale.
While this is true about the relationship between a pentatonic scale and a major scale, it is not in fact how pentatonic scales are constructed. Pentatonic scales are constructed using a series of five consecutive tones in a Circle of Fifths, and then condensing them into a single octave.
As an example, one version of an E-flat Pentatonic scale includes the E-flat, B-flat, F, C and G, all the next tones in the Circle of Fifths, then reorganized into a single octave as E-flat, F, G, B-flat and C.
It should be noted that not all pentatonic scales are constructed using an ascending Circle of Fifths, and there are many other options available as well.
There are numerous ways to structure a melody using intervals that move by steps, skips, and repeats.
Repeats are not intervals, but rather formal indicators of sections of music that are to be played multiple times. In the context of this topic, the word that should be used is "unison", not repeat.
Music symbols can be visually represented to direct how a piece of music should be performed, including: dynamic (articulation) markings, including phrase, accent, legato, and staccato; dynamic range of soft sounds, including pp, mp, and p to indicate pianissimo, mezzo-piano, and piano; dynamic range of loud sounds, including ff, mf, and f to indicate fortissimo, mezzo-forte, and forte
As stated previously, legato is not an articulation but rather is a style of performance.
As stated previously, any iteration of the term forte means "strong" as opposed to "loud". Although "loud" may have been developmentally appropriate for Grade 1, that is no longer the case in Grade 4.
The bass clef indicates pitches on the staff that begin at middle C and move lower.
The pitches on the staff indicated with a bass clef are not constructed from middle C. The bass clef, also known as the "F" clef, is called this because it identifies the location of F by the line that the dots of the bass clef surrounds. One can determine where "middle C" is based on that information, but to suggest the locations of pitches are constructed from the middle C is inaccurate.
Pitches on the lines of the bass clef are labelled GBDFA.
Pitches on the spaces of the bass clef are labelled ACEG.
These are not rules, but are rather mnemonics to help with quick identification, much like BEDMAS is not the rule, but rather the Order of Operations is the rule that BEDMAS helps out with. The actual rule is that the musical alphabet ascends and descends from each space to each line, and line to each space, starting from the pitch identified by the clef indicated. ACEG is the resultant letter names for the spaces on a bass clef, but this should not be the manner in which students identify notes on the staff, or it sets them up for failure when having to identify notes on ledger lines.
Music symbols and abbreviations of terms can be illustrated on a musical score and direct how to play music, including; articulation markings, including phrase, accent, legato, staccato, and fermata, … dynamic range of loud sounds, including ff, mf, and f to indicate fortissimo, mezzo-forte, and forte, … (dim) to indicate diminuendo or decrescendo
The term diminuendo may indeed be indicated by the dim. marking, but decrescendo does not share the same abbreviation. Instead, decrescendo's abbreviation is descresc., and to ignore the potential for its use is inappropriate.
As stated previously, legato is not an articulation but rather is a style of performance.
As stated previously, any iteration of the term forte means "strong" as opposed to "loud". Although "loud" may have been developmentally appropriate for Grade 1, that is no longer the case in Grade 5.
Structures for organizing rhythms can include; … double bar lines, repeat signs, … codas, introductions, first and second endings.
None of these tools organize rhythms. Double bar lines, repeats, codas, and first and second endings simply indicate where the completion of significant sections of music are and/or which sections need to be performed multiple times, but they cannot impact how you read the rhythms on the page.
Introductions are not rhythmic structures, but are instead formal structures that may include harmonic, melodic, and/or rhythmic structures.
The duration of a rhythmic pattern can become more complex by adding dots, ties, or combinations of rhythms, including ... syncopation, which combines eighth notes with a quarter note
This definition of a syncopation is erroneous. A syncopation is any rhythm where the strong notes are played, in whole or in part, on weak beats or "off-beats". The exemplar this draft curriculum provides for a syncopation in the subsequent statement to this one is George Frideric Handel, Water Music: Suite No. 2 in D Major, HWV 349, II. Alla Hornpipe, which doesn't use eighth notes or quarter notes at all, but is rather a series of half notes that are off the standard compound metre beats in 3/2 time, demonstrating how not all syncopations combine eighth notes with a quarter note.
Further, a rhythm such as a quarter note followed by 6 eighth notes would fit the definition provided here, but is most certainly not a syncopation.
Duple metre, or 2/4 time, is a grouping of two beats per measure and alternates one strong beat with one weaker beat. Triple metre, or 3/4 time, is a grouping of three beats per measure and starts with one strong beat followed by two weaker beats. Quadruple metre, or 4/4 time, is a grouping of four beats per measure with an accent falling on beats one and three. Compound metre includes 6/8 time, where the six beats are divided into groups of three and an accent falls on beats one and four.
Duple, Triple and Quadruple metres are separate concepts from Compound metres (and their counterparts, Simple metres) in the same way that the number of legs a creature has is a separate concept from whether or not those creatures are mammal or bird. To speak about these concepts properly, we must group Duple, Triple and Quadruple metres into one concept, and Simple (never defined in the curriculum document) and Compound into a separate concept.
Duple metres are groupings of two beats, however this is not limited to 2/4 time; 6/8 time is also often played as a duple metre. Triple metres are groupings of three beats, but can also include 3/2 time or 9/8 time in addition to 3/4 time. Quadruple metres are groupings of four beats, but can also include 12/8 time in addition to 4/4 time.
The terms Simple and Compound metre clarify these differences. Simple metres are beat groupings that can be further subdivided by duplets, allowing each beat to include the equivalent of 2 sub-beats (two eighth-notes per beat in 4/4 time as an example). Compound metres are beat groupings that can be further subdivided by triplets, allowing each beat to include the equivalent of 3 sub-beats (three eighth-notes per beat in 6/8 time).
So 2/4 time is in fact Simple Duple metre. 3/4 time is in fact Simple Triple metre. 4/4 time is in fact Simple Quadruple metre. 6/8 time is in fact Compound Duple metre.
Melodies based on pentatonic scales omit the fourth and seventh notes of the scale when played, including: C major pentatonic scales, which omit the notes F and B; F major pentatonic scales, which omit the notes B and E; and G major pentatonic scales, which omit the notes C and F
This belies how pentatonic scales are constructed. Pentatonic scales are not constructed from major scales. Pentatonic scales are constructed using a series of five consecutive tones in a Circle of Fifths, and then condensing them into a single octave. As an example, a G Pentatonic scale includes the G, D, A, E and B, all the next tones in the Circle of Fifths, then reorganized into a single octave as G, A, B, D and E.
Melodies constructed on a pentatonic scale are not first constructed on a major scale, and then adjusted to omit certain pitches. It may be fair to compare major and some pentatonic scales this way, but to characterize pentatonic melodies as adjustments to major melodies is inaccurate. It should be noted that not all pentatonic scales are constructed using an ascending Circle of Fifths, and there are many other options available as well.
Pentatonic scales used in musical works can include Claude Debussy’s La fille aux cheveux de lin (The Girl with the Flaxen Hair).
This piece is a horrendous choice for a piece exemplifying a pentatonic scale. Within the first four measures there is the use of diatonic pitches characteristic of a major scale, and then the next four measures include a variety of accidentals indicating borrowed chords of major scales. Teachers should never use this piece to exemplify pentatonic scales.
A better selection would be the traditional Korean folk song Arirang, or Richard Johnston, Chippewa Lullaby from Folk Songs North America Sings which is a great example of a pentatonic scale that cannot be compared to a major scale in the way the previous statement in the Draft K-6 Music Curriculum indicates.
A music symbol called an accidental is placed at the beginning of a musical score to define the scale name, including; B flat to indicate an F major scale, F sharp to indicate a G major scale, no accidental to indicate a C major scale
This is wholly inaccurate. What is being described here is in fact Key Signatures, not accidentals. While this is described accurately in the Grade 6 draft curriculum, here it is falsely defining accidentals. An accidental need not appear at the beginning of a musical score. It can appear at any point in music, and indicates a change in pitch from the key signature for that measure only. Accidentals do not define scale names.
Accidentals are visually represented as the black notes on a keyboard.
This is also not true. The black notes on a keyboard are only used as accidentals in pieces of music where the black notes are not already included in the key signature. The black notes are more accurately identified as semi-tones between the absolute pitches of ABCDEFG. For that matter, it should also be noted that there is no black note between BC and EF, and that accidentals can be used to identify white notes on the keyboard as well. This is part of the concept known as “enharmonics”, where a pitch may have multiple names (D-sharp is also known as E-flat), and that those do not always indicate a black note (E-sharp is also known as F-natural).
Improvisation is a way to structure music.
Improvisation is in actual fact the absence or avoidance of adhering to a structure of music, be it temporal, harmonic, melodic or otherwise, or any combination thereof. Improvisation can be based on already introduced structures in a piece of music, but even in such situations it is an intentional departure from any number of the original structures provided.
The structure of a melody changes when the rhythm changes.
This is not always accurate, particularly when being considerate of songs with lyrics. Strophic songs are the best exmaple of why this is not always accurate, as the melody is repeated, but the rhythm is adjusted to reflect the syllabic structure of the new lyrics. The basic structure of a melody is still the same, and the rhythm adjusts to lyrical syllables.
A triplet rhythm structured with eighth notes is played in the space of one beat.
The grammar issues in this sentence make it impossible to say with certainty that it is accurate, especially in the context that it follows the statement about 6/8 time immediately before it. A more appropriate statement may be "Triplet eighth notes are a rhythm where three notes are played in the space of one beat."
A basic 12-bar blues chord progression is structured using a pattern of I, IV, and V chords of any scale, as heard in B. B. King’s The Thrill is Gone.
This piece is not a strict example of a 12-Bar Blues chord progression, as it is a minor blues with a borrowed chord from its relative major in place of the V chord. The Thrill is Gone in fact uses i, iv, VI and v chords, making it a poor example. Better examples include John Coltrane’s Blue Trane, or Duke Ellington’s C-Jam Blues.
Accidentals can be used to change an interval or to indicate pitches that do not belong to the key signature in which the music is written, including; sharps that indicate the specific pitch to be raised, flats that indicate the pitch to be lowered, natural signs which return the pitch that was changed back to a natural state
This error is likely grammatical only, but by saying accidentals indicate pitches that do not belong to the key signature, a natural sign does not simply return a pitch back to the natural state within that key signature. A natural sign indicates the pitch is to be played as an absolute pitch, neither sharp nor flat. Interestingly, that means a natural sign can indicate a pitch is to be raised or lowered depending on the key signature that it is in.
As an example, in the key of G-flat major, an A-natural would be a raised pitch from the A-flat that normally appears in that key signature. In the key of F-sharp major, an A-natural would be a lowered pitch from the A-sharp that normally appears in that key signature.
Therefore, the only appropriate definition of a natural is an accidental that indicates a pitch is to be played at its absolute pitch value.
A simple harmony consists of chords built with a few tones and chord changes.
This statement is confusing on its own, and perhaps could be solved simply by including an Oxford comma. Alternatively, perhaps the intent of this statement was closer to “a simple harmony consists of chords built with a few specific tones that change to accompany a melody.”
Western music choirs are structured according to group members’ vocal ranges, including bass, tenor, alto, and soprano, as heard in Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major (Symphony of a Thousand) Pt. 1
Mahler's symphony, although it includes voices, is an orchestral work, not a choral work. There are thousands of far better exemplars of choral literature, but one such example would be Ralph Vaughan Williams, Mass in G minor (1921).
Big band ensembles give jazz music a larger sound, as heard in; … Mart Kenney, When I Get Back to Calgary
Many people are concerned about the relevance of Mart Kenney as a reference for Big band music, simply due to the fact that our current Premier is Mart Kenney’s grandson, however an accident of genealogy does not preclude Mart Kenney’s music from being relevant. What precludes this particular example from being relevant is that it is not a full example of giving jazz a larger sound. A better example of such a thing would be Duke Ellington, It Don’t Mean A Thing.
Organizing Idea: Creating and Presenting
Ideas can be represented musically through artworks that draw upon foundational knowledge.Grade 2 Guiding Question: How can a message be represented musically?
The circle is a symbol that can communicate a message in music, including connection.
This concept is disambiguated from any context. A circle is a geometric shape that, without any context, bears no relevance to musical messages. Unless this concept is talking about First Nations circles or the Circle of Fifths, this statement provides no useful information for teaching music as a medium for sharing messages.
Organizing Idea: Appreciation
Recognizing beauty, goodness, and truth in music can be developed by understanding the complexity and richness of great works of music, the artists who create and perform them, and the historical and cultural contexts from which they originate.Grade 2 Guiding Question: How might cultures from the past and present contribute to an appreciate of music?
The strings for stringed instruments were made from the muscles of various animals.
While this statement is true, it is not commonly true. The most common material used for stringed instruments was not muscle from various animals, but rather the intestines of animals, preferably sheep and lamb. This is why such strings are called “gut strings”. To characterize animal muscle as the preferred material is inappropriate.
Religious music common during this time (the Renaissance) included the mass, motet, and laude.
Motets were not exclusively sacred, and in actual fact the Renaissance tradition of motets grew out of the secular traditions of motets in the Medieval era. The draft curriculum has separated religious from secular music explicitly, so it therefore implies the motet was strictly a religious musical form, when in fact it was not.
The Harlem Renaissance (1917–1930s) was a period in time where Black musicians felt free to express Black lives and identity through their music.
People of African American descent in the United States of America have never felt free to express Black lives and identity in any way, including through their music; this is a verifiable fact. Their music may have become more mainstream, but expression of their own lives and identity has never been the result of a sense of freedom.
You Are the Company You Keep
In 2015 a man I developed a strong respect for as he ran for various political offices ran to become MP of my federal constituency. I had a long phone call with him one night. The most important question I asked him was “I’ve come to know you as a socially progressive, fiscally conservative man, but I’ve also seen such people enter the conservative world and either not be allowed to speak their social progressiveness or simply lose it altogether. How are you going to maintain your principles and prevent that from happening?”
At the time, John Barlow told me that nothing about politics was worth his character, and that he would still maintain it. So I told him “as long as that remains true, you have my support.”
I’m a man of my word.
In February of 2016, Barlow appeared beside actor Bernard the Roughneck, and that was my first glimpse that something was up.
In October of 2016, one year into office, he voted against including gender identity and expression in Human Rights legislation and the Criminal Code as prohibited grounds of discrimination, despite that vote being supported by other conservatives.
Another year later he endorsed Jason Kenney as leader of the United Conservative Party of Alberta.
Over the rest of the term thus far, Barlow has shown himself not to be a social progressive anymore.
This is important to note, because it provides evidence that you are the company you keep.
Jason Kenney’s leadership campaign is under investigation for fraudulent emails and votes. His campaign is also linked to allegations of a “kamikaze” Jeff Callaway whose only job was to siphon votes from competitor Brian Jean. So far a $15,000 obstruction of an investigation charge, and thousands of dollars of fines for irregular donations has been handed out. An application for an injunction to the investigation was quashed by an Alberta judge. And that is just so that Kenney could become leader of the new UCP.
It's not the only place this kind of nonsense has allegedly occurred. In my own backyard, former MLA for Highwood Wayne Anderson and Carrie Fischer (two people I have come to respect despite having lost to them in the 2015 election) have both submitted complaints of irregularities in the nomination race for Highwood. Alongside these complaints are allegations of sexual misconduct within the Highwood constituency association. Frankly, these allegations do not come as a surprise, because linked to both the Highwood constituency association and the kamikaze campaign is conservative operative Wendy Adam, who also once called the #MeToo movement an affront to her gender.
Across Alberta we see UCP Candidates being removed from candidacy for not having been forthright with their contributions, xenophobic comments and homophobia. Before that we saw many nomination candidates in hot water for xenophobia in Edmonton, Brooks-Medicine Hat, Calgary-Glenmore, Calgary-Shaw and Calgary-North, not to mention the homophobic attacks planned in Calgary-Shaw and the acceptance of illegal corporate donations in Red Deer South.
Even within the folds of the candidates who are remaining standing there is a litany of homophobes, xenophobes, climate-change deniers and misogynists. Start with one candidate who called homosexuality akin to pedophilia, move over to a candidate who sought to fund Nazi and anti-Semitic propogandists, carry on to another who claimed the United Nations was trying to take over Canada’s border, strafe to two candidates (and a failed one) who stood shoulder to shoulder with white nationalists, shuffle to a replacement candidate who seems to have supported a “gay conversion” program, slide to a misogynist demanding women give their husbands “respect and sex” to make their husbands better, shimmy to a climate-change denier who called environmentalism “unspeakable stupidity”, and glide to another candidate who called climate change a “hoax”. And don’t forget leader Jason Kenney has a history of his own in denying basic human rights to people who identify as LGBTQ+.
Moreover, each of the UCP candidates and their volunteers must be okay with all this attack on humanity. Kenney and the UCP Board have the right to deny any of these people from flying the UCP banner, but they don’t, and in some cases they even support the “diversity of opinions”.
There is a difference between “diversity of opinions” and “hate”.
Calling Muslims “Satan-worshippers” is hate.
Calling homosexuality akin to pedophilia is hate.
Denying homosexuals the right to visit their partners in the hospital is hate.
And this isn’t limited to the UCP, although obviously the UCP has the bigger budget. The Alberta Advantage Party makes no bones about wanting to do away with GSAs, and being selective about immigration.
So it comes as no surprise when we see swastikas, racism and phallic symbols drawn on election signs across the province.
If you can’t stand the NDP that much (which, frankly, I won’t blame you for, as they have some serious problems including a $2 billion electricity boondoggle, poor management of minimum wage, an incomplete pipeline with no solution in sight, and much more), there are other options that don’t require you to abandon your human decency.
If what you really want to do is stick it to the rest of Canada who doesn’t seem to give two beavers about Alberta, go for the Alberta Independence Party (although do be prepared for an infrastructure deficit as they move to get rid of all taxes).
If that’s not your main goal, but rather you would like to stick it to the NDP, consider the Alberta Party who have some pretty sound and researched policies (although do be prepared to have another government who wasn’t prepared to govern).
If you hate the corporate world, consider the Green Party, but don’t expect much more than environmental policy … they simply have no plan elsewhere.
For just a moment, forget that you hate the NDP. Forget the reasons why you hate the NDP. We as Albertans need to decide if we really are okay with homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, climate-change denial and electoral fraud.
Because if you are, go ahead, vote UCP, and be the company you keep.
Yesterday was Student Vote at my school. The conversation around it was quite enlightening.
One 13-year-old student actually broke down into tears because he was genuinely afraid that should the NDP be elected again, it would ruin our province.
I wonder where he learned that gross generalization.
A 16-year-old student also broke down into tears, because he was genuinely afraid that a UCP government would see his safe and caring school turn into a factory of test-takers.
He was a bit closer to reality.
It doesn’t matter who runs our province when it comes to the economy. Oil’s boom and bust is still going to continue, and so as long as our economy continues to be based on that we’re going to continue to feel economic lurches.
Albertans are highly educated innovators with the ability to drive our economy forward if given the opportunity. No elected government is going to stop Albertans from being who they are. It is Albertans who are going to bring our province to some form of economic stability through their innovation, not elected governments.
All we need, then, is for Albertans to be educated innovators. Our best investment in our economy, therefore, is our education system. That is where any elected government has the greatest impact on our province’s future success.
4 years after all the attacks had been put to rest as grossly uninformed politicians trying to tell teachers how to teach, they’re back for more.
The UCP dredges up the old “Taskforce on Teaching Excellence”, because it was so effective at whipping up discord 5 years ago, and that’s what the UCP wants, is such discord as to incite fear of the wicked NDP. The UCP’s platform includes 7 points on curriculum, each of which shows they put the same amount of research into what education is as did the “Taskforce” of 5 years ago; dangerously little. Yet here they are, doubling down on debunked data, and receiving the thoroughly politically-whipped former Education Minister Jeff Johnson’s endorsement for doing so.
It’s the Revenge of the Fifth, and the “Taskforce” is not with us.
They claim the curriculum review belongs to the NDP, despite being started by the PC Government, and that it was underconsulted and “secretive” when it in fact is among the best consulted curricular review documents in provincial history. They demand the use of teaching methods that produce the best outcomes without having done any research to find out what those methods are. They say that “phonics” are a proven method, but they ignore the fact that fonix wen yoozd alon iz not sufishent. They call for “proven math instruction methods”, but in the same document ignore some proven math instruction methods because they could be considered “discovery” or “inquiry” education simply because they don’t know what it is (it’s obvious they don’t know, because they later call for “open, critical debate and thinking as key to lifelong learning”, which is exactly what discovery and inquiry education includes). Refer back to my third installment of my series discussing why such strategies are not actually part of curriculum, but are simply strategies teachers use out of their vast toolbox of strategies to ensure every learner is given the best opportunity for success possible. The UCP, by telling teachers they can’t use one of the tools in their toolbox, are in effect being politicians who are trying to tell teachers how to teach.
The UCP also want to bring us back to assessment strategies that have been discounted by mounds and mounds of research, including Grade 3 Provincial Achievement Tests (or PATs), 50%-weighted diploma exams, and even adding standardized high stakes tests in each Grades 1, 2 and 3. They say they’ve walked those ideas back, yet they still sit firmly planted in their election platform. Make no mistake, when you vote UCP, you are voting for increasing anxiety for elementary students because they are being forced to take test after test after test. Grade 12 students will be set up at a disadvantage compared to all other Grade 12 students across Canada. We know these things don’t work, that is why the PC government started to get rid of them. That’s right, the PCs did that (you know, one of the UCP legacy parties), not the NDP.
The UCP want to see Alberta’s Education system “benchmarked” against leading global jurisdictions, yet they don’t have any clue how to do that. Alberta’s Education system is already at the top of the world, and the leading experts in our system, being the teachers, are constantly asked for advice from other jurisdictions. Why would we benchmark against someone else when we’re already a leader in education implementation and research? Often the UCP refers to PISA, an international “standard” organization, and fully ignores the fact that PISA has been thoroughly debunked as an education system assessment and political policy tool.
The UCP pull out recommendations from the Taskforce almost verbatim. Rather than detail in verbatim again why that Taskforce was so completely out of touch, I invite you to read my second blog on the topic. If you’re not interested in reading that far, suffice it to say teacher professional and practice review is already exceptionally rigorous, and that suggesting teachers require “testing” by a politician who has no educational expertise is demeaning and offensive, and that allowing for alternative pathways to teaching certification will in actual fact erode the quality of teaching and education in our province.
They also pull out the old Education Act which was fraught with problems which, if implemented, would include free school until age 21 (go ahead and fail, taxpayers will still fund your education, and in rural schools you’d still be in the same building as kindergarteners), school fees coming back, removal of more rigorous teacher quality standards, and removal of protections for LGBTQ+ students.
Let me be clear; absolutely no person should ever be given the right to “out” a student without that student’s consent. This would be true if the child was being “outted” for being gay, or being “outted” for wanting to be a musician instead of a doctor, or being “outted” for choosing one religion over another. The Education Act would place that expectation in teacher’s hands, and it would relax requirements for private schools to accommodate LGBTQ+ students. Make no mistake, LGBTQ+ students in Alberta will not be safer in our schools if this were to come to pass.
Although it isn’t in their platform document, the UCP have also gone on record saying they’d seek to remove principals from the Alberta Teachers’ Association. They ignore the fact that principals are in such positions because they are teachers first, not because they are business managers separate from the teaching profession. The professional and pedagogical integrity of our schools is largely due to the fact that our principals are teachers, will always be teachers, and are considered leaders in our field. Yet the UCP wants to see them removed from our profession.
The UCP platform, plain and simple, is an attack on education. Even the Alberta Teachers’ Association, who is a world authority on education implementation and research yet is a non-partisan organization, released a statement refuting the value of the vast majority of the UCP education platform, a highly unusual move for the organization. It’s obvious the UCP have no interest in listening to educational experts.
Our children’s education is not only at risk, it is under attack, and our future economy cannot afford it.
Alberta, let's be wayfinders together.
It’s been an interesting ride since 2015. We knew the election of the NDP would mess with our orientation in Alberta Politics. But this has simply got to stop.
Since I heard about the specifics of Haley’s condition, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and learning. I’m no healthcare professional, but I have been able to glean some details that allows me to speak a bit more confidently about it. The most important detail is that the drug Haley needs, Soliris (Eculizumab), is not approved for use with her condition, despite reports of it working for the very few others around the world who have it. The pharmaceutical company who holds the rights to Soliris has no financial incentive to seek out the drug’s approval. And Alberta won’t accept it’s use because there isn’t enough data to support it.
It's a rare disease. Getting the research volume Alberta Health is asking for is simply not possible. But the research that does exist is more than promising.
Research or not, it's a $700,000/year drug. There is no way that Haley’s family can float that amount.
It’s not like it’s a drug that will incapacitate her with side-effects, either. There are side-effects, but not much different than some people’s side-effects to antibiotics.
But Haley’s life is on the line. I’m not being melodramatic about it either. Within 10 years of having the condition, kidneys shut down, so a transplant would be needed. Haley is in year 7. But the disease isn’t even in her kidneys, so she’d have a high likelihood of damaging the new kidneys, too. The medical regiment she would have without Soliris is significantly limiting, to the point where she may not be able to contribute to the society she so desperately wants to enjoy.
She wants to be a nurse. Because while under treatment, other nurses have been so uplifting for her. She calls it her vocation, her calling, to help other kids when they are in tough times. Something she can’t do if she isn’t healthy herself.
In a letter I sent to Health Minister Sarah Hoffman, I point out that this wouldn’t be the first time that Alberta has found funding for medication that hasn’t yet been approved in Alberta, for another child with a different rare condition. Other jurisdictions, namely the National Health Service in England, are seeking approval for Soliris for others with Haley’s condition. But for some reason Alberta isn’t willing to give Soliris, the only drug that has shown efficacy at all for others with Haley’s condition, a chance.
This is where Wayne Anderson has been called upon for help, and now Brian Jean is bringing it directly to the Premier.
Now credit where it’s due. Premier Notley rightly states that it shouldn’t be politicians making the decision, but rather healthcare professionals. Brian Jean was obviously reading from a script, and missed the point he should have made at that response.
That point was that it IS the healthcare professionals who are telling Haley to use Soliris. Dr. Julian Midgley, a specialist in the field discussing Haley’s condition, has recommended Soliris despite it not having received approval. Why on earth would a professional do that unless they were absolutely convinced it was the best, nay, the only way forward? Why is the Alberta Government not listening to this healthcare professional?
If this scenario was about someone asking for a drug that would simply improve their quality of life, certainly the conversation would be completely different. But this scenario is about trying to ensure that the basic health of a 17-year-old Albertan is maintained, and it is the health care system’s duty to ensure it. At this point it isn’t, not for Haley.
I’ve joined Wayne Anderson (and now Brian Jean) in asking the government to reconsider their position. There is precedent. There is supporting research. There are other jurisdictions seeking approval. But most importantly, there is a young Albertan with dreams and aspirations of her own, to help others who are sick. For someone going through what she has, there is no higher calling.
What more could the province of Alberta want?