Bring Back Dorval – My OpinionsJuly 1st, 2012 by james
I have been asked to do several interviews lately, and I wanted to post my entire response.
Why did you start the petition for Dorval? What is your connection to him? As a teacher, how did he inspire you? What was it that makes Dorval a great teacher?
I attended Ross Sheppard for all three years of high school as an International Baccalaureate diploma student, where I graduated in 2009 as students’ union president and valedictorian. Mr. Dorval was my grade 10 science IB teacher, and he was in fact one of the first people to suggest that I look into engineering physics – the program in which I am currently enrolled at the University of Alberta. In particular, my fondest memories of his class were of his many chemistry and physics demonstrations.
I first heard about the entire ordeal a few days after I had left Edmonton to do an engineering internship at an electronics startup in Boston, and given Mr. Dorval’s quiet demeanour, I was quite surprised. Watching him tear up during an interview was one of the most heart-breaking things I have ever seen. I followed the story closely over the next few weeks, and I tried to get in touch with Mr. Dorval via email, although I found out that his EPSB account was shut down when he was suspended. I contacted a few journalists, and they put me in touch with Jacob Garber – a Ross Sheppard student who had started an in-school petition. To be honest, my initial aim was simply to get in touch with Mr. Dorval and show my support – especially considering his impact on my academic path. When Jacob told me about his petition, though, I thought I might be able to lend a hand. I pulled a few all-nighters in between long days at work and, with the help of a few former classmates, launched www.bringbackdorval.com on Thursday. We received over 1000 signatures in the first day alone and made it to the front page of Reddit within hours.
I feel as though this story has gotten a lot of media attention because people are extremely passionate about the “no zero” policy, when in fact the real issue in my mind is the relationship between teachers and administrators.One thing I think everyone can agree on is that there is no quantifiable evidence to say that a no zero policy is effective. I have read the articles that the EPSB reference in support of this policy – Gerber, Guskey, Reeves, etc. – and I find them entirely unconvincing. They are short, entirely qualitative, and read more like opinion-pieces than journal articles. Moreover, most do not even apply to this particular situation. In fact the only reference that had any data - the Alberta Student Assessment Study – seems to draw conclusions from vague survey responses. I encourage anyone following this issue to read these articles; I think many would come to the same conclusions as I have.Given that this is quite an untested policy, I would think that administration would be flexible and compromising in its implementation. Mr. Dorval’s modified policy of using zeros as “placeholders” and allowing students to make up missed assignments seems completely reasonable in my opinion. It is not my aim to make light of workplace insubordination, but I feel that when several senior staff members speak up against a new policy and propose a fair compromise, it should at least be considered, and individual teachers should have some freedom in how they choose to apply it to their own classrooms.
Ultimately, I would obviously like to see Mr. Dorval reinstated, and to have Mr. Tachynski cleared of any possible suspension. I also hope that this story also opens up a dialogue between teachers and administrators in schools across the board in terms of trust and compromise on both sides.I was happy to see that the trustees voted to review grading policies, but I would have liked to see the Alberta Teacher’s Association take a stronger stand. After launching this website, I heard from many people who complained that the ATA fails to resolve disputes between teachers and administration.