School board’s conduct is “indefensible”
By Gerry Jarvis
As a former Edmonton Public School Board teacher I have to express my dismay and disgust at EPSB’s suspension of teacher Lynden Dorval for insubordination in giving a richly-deserved zero to a student for work not done.
My reasons are straightforward.
The “no-zero” policy, ostensibly the reason for ham-handed disciplinary action against Mr. Dorval, is laughably out of step with public perception of how schools ought to evaluate students. The intolerance of dissenting viewpoints within EPSB should give us pause; if a 35-year veteran of the classroom is punted on a point of principle, I want to know more about the Board’s justification for doing so. Lastly, what sort of kid does EPSB want to put on the street at the end of twelve years of public school education?
What is up with a “no-zero” policy in the first place? The public-relations types say that teachers are supposed to evaluate student work, not student behaviour.
This is utterly incomprehensible. Wake up, guys, we’re evaluated on our behaviour every day of our lives, in our interactions with family, employers, colleagues, clients, customers, other drivers on the road, and neighbours. We are held to account for observing common-courtesy things like punctuality, deadlines, meetings, schedules and workplace etiquette in the real, post-high-school world.
Reinforcing this in high school only makes sense. I could see teachers smoldering as they calculated report card marks – which have to be done to a deadline – for the bottom performers in a class who have not submitted work by deadline, yet escape the consequences for their lack of performance. The “bottom-feeders” in a class would carry away the unfortunate but unmistakable impression that their laziness will be rewarded – or at least not be punished.
This is simply not the way the real world works. Unpaid rent and bills do not go away, groceries don’t buy themselves and small children do not bathe and feed themselves. Learning about accountability in your teens is no bad thing, and it’s mystifying why EPSB doesn’t seem to think so. One has to wonder if there isn’t some deeper reason for the disciplinary action against Mr. Dorval.
The man has obviously proven he has redeeming qualities as a teacher, having been at it for 35 years. He has literally been kicked to the curb and is not allowed to set foot on school property! That is extraordinarily heavy punishment for having a disagreement with EPSB policy on student evaluation.
If the Board carries the day, and it certainly appears they have the muscle and malice to do so, what is it saying about what gets cranked out of the mill at the end of an EPSB education?
Kids who go on to post-secondary carry with them a dangerous work ethic that will not be tolerated in any post-secondary institution. Professors and NAIT instructors have better things to do than to tell their rookies that they’re in the big leagues now, undoing the lax standards EPSB has instilled in their graduates.
EPSB’s conduct in this whole matter is indefensible.