Sunday, June 25, 2006



Department of EducationContact Email: commissioner@fldoe.org



Dear Customer,


I want to thank you for giving the Department of Education the opportunity to serve you. I am committed to continuously assessing and improving the level and quality of services provided by the Florida Department of Education. To assist me in this commitment, please take a couple of minutes to tell me about the quality of service that you received and your satisfaction with it.

Sincerely,
John L. Winn, Commissioner

I am a: - select -StudentParentInterested FloridianState LegislatorLegislative StaffLobbyist with Education ClientGovernor’s Office StaffBusiness PartnerCommunity PartnerMediaEducation AdvocateK-12 Public School TeacherK-12 Private School TeacherK-12 School AdministratorK-12 District AdministratorCommunity College StudentCommunity College FacultyCommunity College AdministratorUniversity StudentUniversity FacultyUniversity AdministratorVocational Rehabilitation ClientBlind Services ClientDepartment of Education EmployeeState Agency Employee (not DOE)Other

Please mark your level of satisfaction on the following matters: VERY HIGH (5) ---------- NEUTRAL (3) --------- VERY LOW (1)
1. Courtesy and professionalism:
5 4 3 2 1
2. Quality:
5 4 3 2 1
3. Timeliness:
5 4 3 2 1
4. Accuracy:
5 4 3 2 1
5. Were you provided the information committed to you?
Yes No NA

If no, please explain.3 emails for Mr. Winn's educational credentials have had no response.

6. Overall, how would you rate your satisfaction?
5 4 3 2 1

7. Your comments are important; they can tell us specifically what you like about our service and how we can improve our service to better serve you.

This form is nothing but flim-flam. It's a disgrace to treat citizens this way: no response to three emails. Is there nobody in school administration that can punctuate? The period goes inside the quotation marks in the message from the Department of Education on the previous page.

Thank you for your feedback. I sincerely appreciate your honest opinions and will take them into consideration as the Department provides services in the future.
**************************************************************************************

Ms. Edgecomb:


Several days ago you said you would see that the media people would correct the superintendent's punctuation errors online. This has not happened as you can see below from today's current posting that the superintendent has not corrected her biography essay's online errors.

Did you ask her to make the corrections? Do you hesitate because you are friends with the superintendent or what? You are her boss. That's a fact. If she does not listen to your in the matter of correcting her online illiteracy, what makes you think she listens to you or the Board on other matters? The administration’s holding the Board’s request in contempt is not a good sign of the Board’s effectiveness.


Please don't tell me that you have not told Ms. Elia directly to correct the errors that are an embarrassment to any one concerned with education. For a quarter of a million dollars a year, the superintendent should be able to punctuate. Since she can’t, she should sign up for an English class in the school closest to ROSSAC and take the course so that she can stop embarrassing the district.


This is the same problem that Dr. Lennard, the previous vo-tech superintendent, had. The gentleman couldn’t punctuate either. Why does the School Board keep hiring people to head the school system who can't punctuate? I noted candidates with Ph.D.s among the finalists for the job who punctuate beautifully. I would be curious to know why a School Board does not consider superintendent literacy important. If evidence of literacy in the highest school administrator is not important, what is?

I am disappointed, ma’am, that you have not persuaded the superintendent, who acts like a reluctant pupil in this matter, to amend her Web errors because the whole WWW can now see that Hillsborough County has a superintendent who can't punctuate and hence gives the message to students of not only this county but to those all over the world that literacy is not important in American education.




Biography
Bio for MaryEllen Elia

MaryEllen Elia received her B.A. degree from Daeman College and her M.Ed. degree from the University of Buffalo. In 1983, she added Masters of Professional Studies in Reading from State University of New York at Buffalo, and received certification in Educational Leadership in 1989.
MaryEllen worked as a social studies teacher in the state of New York from September 1970 through June 1986. In August 1986, she was employed by the School District of Hillsborough County in Tampa, Florida as a reading resource specialist at Plant High School. She served as the county's secondary reading supervisor from 1989 through 1991. With the advent of magnet schools in 1991, MaryEllen became the county's first magnet school supervisor. From January 1997 through September 2002, she served as Director of Non-Traditional Programs which included magnet schools as well the ESOL program, alternative schools and dropout prevention programs.

On September 4, 2002, MaryEllen was appointed to the General Director of Secondary Education, and on June 3, 2003, she was appointed the Hillsborough County School District's Chief Facilities Officer where she was responsible for all new construction for over 200 schools/educational facilities and district maintenance and custodial operations. On May 19, 2005, MaryEllen was appointed Superintendent of Schools. Her tenure began July 1, 2005.
MaryEllen is married to Albert Elia and has two children, a son Albert and a daughter Tara.
More information about Hillsborough County Public Schools is available through the District Information web page.


Ms. Gentry, below is an excerpt from an article on the Web about national drop-out rates.

I read another piece that says school systems have been slipshod in keeping records of drop-outs and have used questionable methodology in tallying the graduation rates. For instance, one practice cited was to count as graduates those who merely promised to take the GED.

The rate for Hillsborough County is supposedly 70 percent. Are those students who actually crossed the stage and received their diplomas from school officials, or are there other ways that Hillsborough County counts students as graduates?


In other words, what is the methodology used to count graduates? Who sets it? Do you have a policy statement on it? Is it broken down ethnically? In Hillsborough County, is the breakdown by schools etc. ? Are there loopholes that allow students to be counted as graduates if they don't actually get their diplomas on stage?

What department handles this graduation count? Give me the data you have on calculation of graduation rates for Hillsborough County, please, that answers the above questions.

What does it mean when 7,000 students are dropping out of school every day? Here are some of our favorite responses that we didn't get to read on air:


· The dumbing down of America is in full swing. Destruction of our public school system is essential in creating a low-wage underclass. An educated populous capable of critical analysis, independent thought and mental acuity wouldn't tolerate what we have for government in this country today.-- Steve, Charlotte, North Carolina

· How would you like to sit all day in a classroom learning things you're not interested in and will never use? Kids are no different than us. They have the basics by 4th grade, then give them computers and help them pursue their own creativity.-- Elaine, Cleveland, Ohio

· This scale of attrition points in only one direction: the United States is quickly becoming a third-world nation and will soon drop out of super power status. If the schools can teach anything at all, Chinese might be in order.-- Gypsy




District 2 School Board Race

Gentle Reader:

Below I append letter to the president of the Athena Society. Candy Olson—and Ms. Edgecomb—are members. The late Nancy Ford, a South Tampa woman, formed this group about 35 years ago. I became acquainted with Nancy when she met me at the airport when I arrived from New York City with my four children and old cat to settle in the house we had bought in Beach Park. My husband’s company had transferred him here. Nancy presented me with the Gasparilla cook book as a new-family welcome present from the bank at which she worked.

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act had recently passed, and the lummoxes who ran the bank figured they ought to get a woman in upper management to look as if the bank were in compliance with the equal opportunity law’s provisions, so they hired Nancy. The fellows couldn’t figure out what to do with a woman, so they made her a vice president who passed out cook books to the families of executives moving to Tampa, hence Nancy’s showing up at the airport to greet me, our children, and our old cat, Twink.

Nancy wanted to be involved in women’s rights, but she shrank back from the real women’s movement as not coincident with her assumptions of ladylike refinement and social elevation. (I founded Tampa NOW, the blood-and-guts women’s movement shortly after I moved to Tampa.) Athena’s purported purpose was to advance women’s rights, especially the Equal Rights Amendment that was then going through the ratification process. It never achieved ratification, of course.

Athena didn’t do much to help ERA ratification, which involved taking to the streets, because Athena’s policy was to admit only women who would not make unladylike waves. These I refer to as indigenous Aunt Toms by habit and temperament. My God, they are everywhere in every era. They joined the male sexists in calling Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony “hyenas in petticoats.” Most of these local Aunt Toms who transitioned to Nancy’s Athena had emerged from the Junior League, one infers, where they rolled bandages, did other prissy ladies’ stuff, and were contentedly junior to men. I suspect that second-banana status explains the Junior League's name. Real women’s rights work says goodbye to all that and to hell with anybody who objects to women’s equality. Just lock and load and full steam ahead are bona-fide women’s rights attitude.

Nancy’s group gingerly undertook the impossible chore of co-opting the women’s rights revolution into a Bay Area nicey-nicey parochial outfit that was too insecure to be anything but conformist snobs. The mix is impossible.

Nancy asked me to speak to Athena on the ERA shortly after the organization formed. I was teaching then and looked like the poor teacher that I was when I spoke. True, I was a college professor, but one of those doesn’t make much more than a beginning teacher in the Hillsborough County school system. So I wore my usual Sears Roebuck and Walmart couture and shoes not made in Italy and not made of leather. I got the impression that the Athena members were pricing out my outfit instead of listening to my comments on how to pass the ERA.

This plan for a society-matron crossover to the tough work of women’s right hasn’t worked for Athena because women’s rights revolution is a radically democratic movement in which snobs get laughed at. A woman has to be confident and indifferent to the disapproval of up-tight society to dare do women’s-right’s real work, which dictates fighting on different levels and ignoring the prim rules that have heretofore controlled women. But the terror of looking unladylike and historical ignorance of the struggle for women’s suffrage so imbued Athena members that they couldn’t gird up their loins to make the cut for the rough work of hacking away at sexism to get women equal status in our society. I infer the Athena Society has dwindled and over the years to a ladies-who-lunch outfit since Nancy’s death, but I keep hoping some of the younger members will rise up and reorient the outfit to doing something that its charter cites: advancing women’s rights.

If you can’t shuck that ladylike, nose-in-the-air pose, you can’t be a feminist. You will find the environs inhospitable to you. You have to be willing to get down in the trenches or mount the ramparts of rebellion and shout, “Hell, no, we won’t take it any more!”

Athena sprang from the head of Jove and was goddess of war, so Athena is the wrong symbol for this supine Bay Area outfit. The reason classical Greeks chose Athena as patron goddess of Athens instead of her competition male gods is that she was a fighter and didn’t dither about her social status. She knew she was first class. Athena’s giant effigy dominated the ancient Parthenon and should have done for she was grand and intrepid. Kitty-Kat La Foo Foo with a pink bow around her neck and whiskers dyed purple would represent a more symbolic fit for Athena Society minions.

Never despairing completely about women’s capacity to rise up and act, I thought I would tap into any latent feminist feelings that might exist in the group and recently wrote the current Athena president, one Linda Devine, the below letter about women’s right to chose’s being endangered in Florida since both Crist and Gallagher say they want to pass a law like that in North Dakota that makes women’s abortion rights illegal.

La Linda did not have the courtesy to answer. My Georgia mother-- who practiced a brand of Southern exclusivity indigenous to Georgia women, who know how to can peaches (they call it “putting up” peaches), make field peas with fatback, conjure home-made biscuits, and quell any socially insecure snoots who cross their paths with a flick of the wrist-- would have said La Linda was raised in a barn and probably didn’t come from a “good” family if one of my genealogy-nut aunts laid bare the poor wretch’s genealogy forensics,

The previous introduction leads into comment on one Athena member’s just-announced run for the School Board. La Candy Olson will compete again for the umpteenth time for District 2, South Tampa’s district. She emerges from the tradition of the society matron’s tiring of rolling bandages in the Junior League, looking about for something to fill her empty hours, and discovering dabbling in politics. The School Board is home to these types. In fact, in many communities school-board volunteerism exists as community service and performed gratis.
La Candy represents incumbent political dabbler who has occupied her seat so long that she is stuck to the chair on the School Board podium, from which she gazes out at the cameras with the fixed stare of complacency that assures the viewer that she is not going to do one damn thing except sit as a ceremonial potted-plant on her considerable –in Candy’s case— potted-plant ass.

Being a ceremonial School Board member, not doing anything but simply sitting in the seat of power, is all that La Candy cares about. Hence, when one of her current two opponents asked her a couple of years ago as his Board representative to help him diminish the savaging of gay students in the schools, where he had been, first, a teacher and now a library media specialist, La Candy told him through a third party that abating gay students’ agonies must wait for another election cycle for her to address the problem. In other words, Candy’s perpetual seat on the board was the important datum for her. She declined to rock the boat and risk her incumbency and to hell with suffering gay kids in the school system.

This fellow, Bart Birdsall, decided to run for Candy’s seat when the school Professional Standards Abu Gharib department tried to frame him at the behest of Ms. Elia after Birdsall had participated in the gay protest of Ronda Storms’s shutting down gays’ First Amendment rights in the public library. Ms. Elia, apparently helping Ms. Bean’s gay library director, Joe Stines, local Roy Cohen, get back at Birdsall for criticizing Stines’s enthusiastic participation in trashing the Constitutional rights of gays. Terrorizing school employees who dare let out a peep of protest to administration oppression by threatening their jobs constitutes administration SOP. The administration also doesn't like publicity, and Birdsall had offended against that prejudice as well. Publicity draws the public's attention to the Board and adminisistration's ripping off the taxpayer with bloated administrative salaries and incompetence such as the recent real-estate scam unearthed by the St. Petersburg Times's vigilance, not the School Board's.

The administration with a complicit School Board had come to the wrong lemonade stand with Birdsall. Using the same venerable Gestapo tactics that the administration has perfected to shut people up by threatening their jobs for decades, Elia et al expected to quell Birdsall. But, lo, Birdsall fought back, and one of his final rejection-of-abuse tactics was to run for the School Board in his District 2 because he believed the schools needed the reform of an active Board member interested in teachers’ and students’ rights for a change, not a Board member like La Olson, who rubberstamps everything the administration puts under her potted-plant nose whilst she stares into the camera.

A third contender has entered the race named Logan. Logan has not graduated from high school yet. I love this kid. I wish I could live long enough to see what he does with his life. His daring at this age shows great promise. Napoleon came from a provincial outback too. Let us pray for Logan and wish the lad godspeed.

Now faites attention, all you gauche plebeians. La Candy has sent out a campaign kick-off soiree announcement that says a political high tea will take place at some faux flossy venue and that—now get this—will feature d’oeuvres provided from Mise en Place. Well, la de da. Isn’t that an appropriate gesture from a wanna-be polyester aristocracy dingdong to let the unwashed voters know that she has deigned to sit as a potted plant for yet another term, stare into the camera, and do nothing for teachers, students, or schools in general but continue, instead, to rubberstamp administration buddy job hiring and raises for already bloated administrative salaries till the sun sinks into the east over Tampa Bay?

I would love to hear what my Jeff-Davis-County, Georgia, mother would comment on the Mise en Place touted gourmet grub for the launch of a School Board race. Mama could be devastatingly cruel about social pretensions of carpet baggers—Ms. Olson’s official status since she’s not a local but comes from the North, which waged the War of Oppression on us Southerners.

From my citizen’s observation post, here’s La Candy track record in her Board tenure besides turning back any efforts to help gay children avoid savaging in the schools:

1. La Candy recently joined other Board members in raising their own salaries to that of veteran-teacher level with a master’s degree for Board members’ attending two meetings a month compared to the teacher’s working full time. When I approached her and Dr. Lamb at Tiger Bay to tell them that this greedy gesture offended me as a citizen, La Candy joined Dr. Lamb is spitting out Exorcist style that they were offended that I, a mere citizen, had the effrontery to mention their greed to them despite the First Amendment's saying a citizen has a right to tell public officials what is on his or her mind for redress of grievances. Dr. Lamb and La Candy sneer at the First Amendment, although they took an oath of office to defend it. They endorse, instead, their ersatz regal status, which the Constitution does not endorse, and are impervious to voter input. Next, they will stake out condos on Mt. Olympus.

2. La Candy doesn’t answer citizen emails; she spams them from an undisclosed ROSSAC location. She doesn’t want to hear from constituents with questions and suggestions or problems. Below is Candy's brush-off of citizen input. Note that she does not say to get back to her if you don't get the answer you need from the electronic squawk boxes. She does not care if you get your data or not. District 2 needs a member who cares about citizen concerns. Candy is not that person. I once heard her at Tiger Bay joke that she could not remember her district's designation. Maybe that comment was not a joke but a Freudian slip.
Thank you for your email. This is an automated response. Your concerns will be referred to the appropriate school or district personnel for reply. If this is a school-based issue, please make sure that you have contacted the school principal or the area director. For general information about district policy or guidelines, you may visit our website at www.sdhc.k12.fl.us. Thank you.All correspondences including email sent to School Board members or School District staff are considered public records per Fl. Statute 119.


3. La Candy looks the other way when Linda Kipley—former home-ec teacher-- of the Professional Standards Cell Block tortures teachers and consents by her silence to this mistreatment of teachers, not even providing teachers with a manual of their rights when they enter the Professional Standards gauntlet for punishment.




4. An observer saw Candy at a Board meeting be dismissive of students when they appeared before the panel.

5. Olson rubberstamps board and favorite hiring that violates Title VII.

6. La Candy doesn't do her homework and lets outrages like the real-estate scam slide past her lazy ignorance.

And now we have notice from La Candirina that she will announce her campaign at a snoot reception with food provided from Mise en Place. La sucrerie est un imbécile pour sûr mes amis. Je vous assure.

Either Bart or the kid Logan would be infinitely preferable to this “public” servant who thinks the public is her servant and who cares not a whit about students, teachers, or schools as long as she can occupy the dais in potted-plant splendor, say inane things when pressed for comment, and stare into the camera that the Board shut down in the past during citizen question time because it was jealous of possible opponents’ using it to advance their candidacy.

For the good of the schools, Candy should go back to rolling bandages.

lee drury decesare

former teacher, union president, and education critic


Linda Devine, President Athena Society
P.O. Box 19813
Tampa, FL 33679
March 10, 2006

Ms. Devine:

I found your name and address online.

Reading in The New York Times this morning about the vote to ban all abortions in South Dakota catalyzed my belief that I should write to a community woman’s organization to act in the Bay Area to protect women’s right to choose.

My mind alit on the memory of the late Nancy Ford, one of your founding mothers.

I met Nancy at the airport forty years ago. She was ambassador for a local bank and greeted me, my four children, and our old sedated cat by placing a Gasparilla cookbook in my hands. We had picked a house to buy from pictures in a realtor’s book in Beach Park close to my husband’s office and close to my HCC teaching job. Nancy knew the neighborhood thoroughly and gave excellent advice in addition to the cookbook.

Typical of the thinking of that time of women’s struggle toward equality was Nancy’s passing out cook books to relocating families because the male Neanderthals of the banking world had learned that there was such a thing as Title VII that required non-discrimination in hiring; hence they hired Nancy and then didn’t know what to do with their first woman vp. Cooking and women have deep embedment in male reptilian brain, so they assigned Nancy the vice-presidential job of passing out cookbooks.

I founded Tampa NOW shortly after moving to Tampa. Women were in the midst of the fight for the ERA then, and I had come from picketing in NYC with Freidan and Steinem for the ERA and wanted to continue the work in the Bay Area. Nancy knew she wanted to work for the ERA but shrank from the radical women’s movement. We radical women are progeny of Alice Paul, who chained herself to the White House gate to embarrass President Wilson into supporting suffrage more vigorously during WWI.

President Wilson threw Paul in jail, force-fed her, and tried to get the prison doctor to declare her insane and ripe for commitment to an institution to shut up her effective protests. That wonderful doctor examined Ms. Paul and reported thusly to the president: “Ms. Paul is not insane. Women who show courage are often accused of being crazy.” I love that fellow and blow his memory kisses back over the years that have elapsed since for that brave, gallant statement. That’s what I call a real man not sweating out performance anxiety. My mother voted in Georgia for the first time since she then was twenty-one.

Since Nancy was not the chaining-oneself-to-a-fence type, she formed Athena. Y’all are the ladylike arm of the women’s movement and the exact group who can serve or daughters and granddaughters now with your polished persona.

I met a vile young man running for the state House of Representatives yesterday at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He told me with smiling effrontery that he did not believe in abortion period and, in effect, had Martin Luther’s attitude toward women. You will recall that old sexist fart said, “Women were born to suffer in pregnancy; so let them.” Of course, this belief had no practical results for the prospective legislature—or Martin Luther. He can’t get pregnant no matter how much he larks about in Tallahassee after hours. The matter is theoretical for him, not blood-and-guts real as it is for women. As the late Flo Kennedy said, abortion would be a sacrament if men got pregnant. I asked him if he would be a part of the effort in Tallahassee to replicate South Dakota’s total ban of abortion. He said he would. I could have boxed his ears.

History will judge ill the women of this generation if we sit by and do nothing to combat the misogyny of the total abortion ban that the radical right wants to impose of the young women of this nation despite the majority of the country’s wanting to keep abortion legal. I don’t want my three granddaughters or my seven grandsons’ wives and girlfriends to have to go to back-alley abortions again as the women of my generation had to do. So I will do all I can to combat the creeping ban on abortion in our country.

Athena is the perfect group to host a women’s-organizations colloquy with prospective legislators—local and national candidates—to discuss their legislative plans for choice if they win office. Women’s right to choose is something the candidates need to go on record about before they enter office because after they win office, they become imperial and won’t give a voter the time of day.

So review this suggestion with your board and members; then pray devise a way to implement it in the Bay Area. The candidates must state their positions on choice and answer questions from real women in real time about those positions. Then Bay-Area women can cast their votes with eyes wide open on the issue that trumps all others for the sex who bears the world’s young: the right to control their own bodies.

The radical women’s movement can’t protect choice on its own without other women’s troubling themselves about this fundamental problem for women: All women must address it, or all women lose it.

I know that Nancy’s benign spirit will be shining down on the progeny in Athena, the goddess of wisdom, who told Odysseus what to do. Nancy’s spirit, I am sure, will bless Athena’s leading this timely project for womankind.

Sincerely,

lee drury de cesare
15316 Gulf Boulevard 802
Madeira Beach, FL 33708
tdecesar@tampabay.rr.com
727-398-4142

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