The Alberta NDP is a socialist party, and it does not hide that fact.
Its own constitution makes this point emphatically: “The purpose of the Party is to promote the principles of democratic socialism in Alberta and to establish and maintain a democratic socialist government in Alberta through the electoral process.”
Don’t be fooled by claims about being a “moderate” party. Its whole purpose is to establish socialism in Alberta.
When the NDP formed government (2015-2019,) it was deeply involved in rewriting Alberta’s public school curriculum. As part of that process, the Department of Education produced a document in 2016 entitled The Guiding Framework for the Design and Development of Kindergarten to Grade 12 Provincial Curriculum (Programs of Study). Its stated purpose was “to set a common direction for provincial curriculum development.”
The Guiding Framework includes a references section that lists items cited within it. There is also a bibliography that “contains all resources consulted during the development of the document, whether cited or not.” In other words, the items in this list were not directly cited, but nevertheless played some role in the document’s formulation.
Curiously, among the items listed in the bibliography is a 1932 book by George S. Counts called Dare the School Build a New Social Order? Counts was a far-left educational theorist in the US who openly advocated using the public schools to promote socialism. Indeed, that is the very purpose of the book the NDP consulted (among others) in devising the guiding framework for Alberta’s new curriculum.
Having been consulted during that process, this book warrants a closer look. Indeed, it would be interesting to know why the NDP would consult Comrade Counts — as well as other left-wing theorists like John Dewey and Paulo Freire — while ignoring conservative-oriented theorists, such as E. D. Hirsch Jr.
Of course, every child must learn within some sort of educational environment that is provided by adults. As Counts correctly notes, there’s a sense in which education is “imposed” upon children by adults.
“The real question,” he writes, “is not whether imposition will take place, but rather from what source it will come.” So far so good.
However, Counts goes on to say it should be the teachers, not the parents, in the driver’s seat. In his view, “the teachers should deliberately reach for power and then make the most of their conquest.” They could then use their power to “definitely and positively influence the social attitudes, ideals, and behavior of the coming generation.”
The public schools, then, would teach children left-wing ideals and “enlist their loyalties and enthusiasms in the realization of the vision” of the new socialist order.
Working from an essentially Marxist framework, Counts argues economic and technological progress rendered capitalism obsolete and harmful. Capitalism’s “days are numbered,” he writes. Capitalism “will either have to be displaced altogether or changed so radically in form and spirit that its identity will be completely lost.”
As he states more fully: “The growth of science and technology has carried us into a new age where ignorance must be replaced by knowledge, competition by cooperation, trust in providence by careful planning, and private capitalism by some form of socialized economy.”
Of course, “some form of socialized economy” is exactly what the Alberta NDP is committed to in its own constitution.
Occasionally, the NDP’s views on education are more clearly exposed. In 1988, the Alberta government of Don Getty introduced a new School Act that recognized parental rights in education to a greater degree than ever before. For this reason, the NDP strongly opposed the new legislation.
In arguing against parental rights during legislative debate on the new School Act, NDP MLA Barry Pashak stated, “In any kind of organized society the rights of the state have to come first. That’s why you have a public education system. You have to define the kind of society you want to live in, and the educational system that you have which is supported by public funding must contribute to the realization of that state.”
Here, the “rights of the state” to form “the kind of society” it wants is prioritized over the rights of parents. This is very much in line with the view of George Counts. Maybe that’s why the NDP likes his book.
During the coming election campaign the NDP will claim to be “moderate.” Keep in mind, though, the stated purpose of the party is to establish socialism in Alberta. An openly socialist party will want to implement an education policy compatible with its socialist ideals. From past examples, there are clear indications that its actions will be consistent with this purpose.