Edmonton teacher suspended for handing out zeros
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Physics teacher Lynden Dorval spoke with CTV News on Thursday, May 31.
Date: Fri. Jun. 1 2012 9:07 PM ET
An Edmonton high school teacher said he’s been suspended for handing out zeros to students who didn’t complete their work, bucking a “no-zero” policy at the school.
Lynden Dorval said he doesn’t agree with the school’s behavioural code that bans awarding a grade of zero for incomplete work.
Instead, the policy introduced at Ross Sheppard High School almost two years ago treats unfinished work as a behavioural problem and not an academic one.
“So of course the student’s marks are only based on the work they have actually done,” Dorval told CTV Edmonton Thursday.
“It’s just like in real life, there are always consequences for not doing things,” the 35-year veteran teacher said.
Dorval’s marking system didn’t sit well with the school’s principal Ron Bradley, who sent a letter to the Edmonton Public School Board asking for a replacement teacher.
The letter cites three incidents where Dorval reportedly went against the policy, dating back to 2011.
It also outlines a meeting where Bradley told Dorval to remove the zeros and replace them with the school-sanctioned codes.
The school board wouldn’t confirm the reasons for Dorval’s suspension. It did state it was a staff discipline issue.
However, Schmidt said teachers are expected to follow assessment plans.
“When an assessment plan has been put in place at a school level, it’s my expectation that every staff member will stick to that plan,” he told CTV Edmonton.
Dorval told CTV the zeros he gave to students weren’t permanent, saying it’s important for students to learn about the “real world.”
“The students know that in my case they’re not permanent zeroes, it’s just an indicator that they have to do something about it because this is how their mark is going to turn out if they don’t,” he said.
Dorval’s suspension has prompted a wave of reaction from parents who are calling into radio stations, penning opinion columns, as well as calling the school, the board and the Education Department.
Many have dubbed Dorval the “Hero of Zero” who has stood up to those who allow children to get away with not doing their work.
“We’re hearing from parents. They’re seeing this in a very over-simplified kind of way,” Schmidt said.
“What we’re trying to explain is that students can fail courses if they don’t do the work. Kids are not given the opportunity to game the system.”
Meanwhile, students are somewhat perplexed by Dorval’s suspension.
“If the student didn’t do their work, why should they get any mark at all, so a zero sounds fine to me,” Dimitri Muzychenko told CTV Edmonton.
Another student, Mohamad Al-Jabiri, thought the punishment was too harsh.
“What is he supposed to do? Like he’s not going to run after the kids, it’s high school, right?” he said.
While Alberta Education Minister Jeff Johnson is keeping an eye on the situation, he does not plan to get involved, according to his spokeswoman, Kim Capstick.
“We don’t have a policy on grading. Albertans elect school boards for this,” said Capstick.
Dorval plans to appeal his suspension on the grounds that the principal went beyond his authority. The teacher also hopes to ignite a discussion on caring versus coddling.
With a report from CTV Edmonton’s Veronica Jubinville and files from The Canadian Press
- Edmonton trustee wants ‘no-zero’ marking policy reviewed (cbc.ca)
- Edmonton teacher may lose job for refusing to let kids skip assignments (news.nationalpost.com)