Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Gentle Reader:

This morning whilst drinking coffee after breakfast, I worked for the glory of The Minions of the Light.

I sent my letter to the Committee of 100 Florida business Pooh-bahs to all members of the Florida Senate.

Then I waded into the superintendents' tangle of web pages and sent the letter to as many as energy would allow me. I believe the Florida education community should know about the illiteracy and skullduggery afoot in the Hillsborough County school system.

I noted that many of the school superintendents hire themselves out as consultants after they had bummed around the superintendent gravy train and retired. In superintendent role on the metastasized superintendent and school Pooh-bah networks (Dr. Jack Lamb is president of one of these many organizations), there is much gadding about to spiffy hotels, where the superintendents, Board members, and the administrative minions occupy pricey rooms and attend banquets at taxpayer expense on so-called education business. There is, it appears, much feeding at the public trough by the superintendent swells.

Then comes the retired-superintendent consultant hustle. I know how this works because I saw it up close at HCC. Community college presidents recommend each other for consultant jobs at each other's colleges for astronomical fees in a you-scratch-my-back-I-scratch-yours buddy protocol. The pay for these pseudo consulting gigs comes out of tax money that should go to the schools instead of into the pockets of the bloated-salaried eminences of this education-racket hustle. Hillsborough County Board and administration are doubtless adepts at this game,

I will tackle the House emails anon, sending each member a copy of my Committee of 100 letter. I imagine that what happens is that legislative aids skim it and say to their bosses, “Did you know that the Hillsborough County superintendent gets a quarter of a million dollars a year and can’t punctuate? And there’s a fellow right beneath her whose name is Hamilton gets $132,000 a year and doesn’t know the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re.’” So this woman in the Bay Area wants the state to have administrator language tests like Massachusetts does. Massachusetts has the highest rating of schools in the country.”

“And she’s writing to that flossy Committee of 100 proselytizing this idea?” asks the solon if he knows the word “proselytize.”

“Yep,” says the intern. “Do you think it’s a good idea to require that school administrators be literate?”

“You know, I never thought of it before, but I will if those business fellows insist on administrative literacy. They are the ones that put us in office, so we have to listen to their money.”

Ms. Edgecomb: Thank God there is an English teacher on the Board. Please be alert to this problem. Illiterate communications make the Board look bad. And if you tolerate it, you are bad. Illiterate Web pages are also diagnostic of what is wrong with the C- and D-student administration the Board has allowed to assemble over the years.

I heard Mr. Davis went into this top computer job with no computer training. One can never get solid information from the PR office, so he or she must deal with rumor and apocrypha.

Good lord, if that's true, no wonder the computer system is having another breakdown in delivering teacher pay. When will the School Board start insisting that professionals get such jobs instead of incompetent buddies? I doubt the administration advertised Mr. Davis's job. I bet only minimum-wage jobs get advertised. Others get passed from buddy to buddy.

I wrote Mr. Davis asking about his training and salary. He didn't answer. Courtesy to taxpayers that pay salaries of all the school system employees would also be an advance. Literacy comes first , but fair employment practices and courtesy to taxpaying people come second.

I hold you directly accountable for fair employment practices, Ms. Edgecomb. Your minority status makes that responsibility yours. Hispanic Susan Valdez should act as your eager lieutenant. History will judge you and Susan ill if you two fail it. Don't be collaborators. Don't count on the Anglos. They are part of the problem. They've nailed down all the good spots in life and want to keep it that way.

I wrote Mr. Winn's office for his academic degrees. He has a gauzy web site with platitudes that hide his credentials, such as they probably are. The education system in Florida is rife with the sort of incestuous structure of incompetents that Hillsborough County suffers. If a determined Board committed education instead of going along to get along cleans it up, then the result will be a challenge and model for the rest of the state.

Cleaning up starts at the top. It always has. It always will.

lee drury de cesare
----- Original Message -----
From: Doretha Edgecomb
To: lee
Cc: Jack Davis
Sent: Tuesday, June 20, 2006 12:36 PM
Subject: Re: Suggestion to Council of 100

Ms. DeCesar,
Below is a copy of the email I sent to Jack Davis after receiving your email regarding Mrs. Elia's biography on our website. Jack is the Chief Officer for Information and Technology and his staff is responsible for the webpage.

I have forwarded you a copy of Ms. DeCesar's email regarding punctuation errors on Mrs. Elia's website. I think it is important that any grammatical error are corrected. We are a district of high standards and we take pride in want we do and we want to reflect those values in everything associated with us. Please have someone on your staff review the website and make the necessary edits.
Thank you for your assistance.

Doretha W. Edgecomb
School Board Member
District 5
Hillsborough County Public Schools

All correspondences including email sent to School Board members or School District staff are considered public records, per Florida Statute 119.

A Teacher Comments on the "Raise" Flim-flam

I hear through the grapevine that teachers will get a 6% raise and if we agree to work another 20 or so minutes to go from a 7.35 hour day to an 8 hour day, we get another 4% raise totalling 10%.

Now at the end of the year Elia promised or implied that teachers will receive the biggest raise in years during a webstreaming session on the internet. However, 6% is not the largest we have seen in years, and adding another 4% and giving us more time is NOT a true raise.

I don't want to work MORE time. A true raise is a raise without stipulations. Once again, teachers get the shaft. I feel her big talk is smoke and mirrors.

CastingRoomCouch's Question: When the bloated raises go into the administration paychecks, do they have stipulations?

Letter to Council of 100 from Casting-Room Couch

400 N. Ashley Drive
Suite 1775
Tampa, Florida 33602

June 20, 2006

Dear Ms. Pareigis, Executive Director Florida Council of 100:

I taught college English for twenty-eight years before retiring.

The students who entered freshman English from Hillsborough County schools were poorly trained in language. I had to teach them grammar and punctuation, how to write a paragraph, and how to write an essay before I could lecture to them on Hamlet and Yeats.

I heard during my teaching career that business leaders complained that they did not get high school or even college graduates as candidates for employment who could write at an acceptable level of literacy. So I infer the Florida Council of 100 is interested in this problem because it affects the quality of employees its members get.

The last two superintendents of Hillsborough County schools—Dr. Lennard and Ms. Elia-- have illiteracy problems themselves that showed up on their official Web page. They did not know basic punctuation. Their style was dreadful too, but the remedial-English punctuation and grammar errors were primary.

If you access Ms. Elia’s Web page (http://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/superintendent/), you will find these errors although I pointed them out to her some time ago and told her how to correct them. But she and the Board have so little regard for their promise to make our children literate that they sneer at taxpayers who pay their salaries and don’t feel the need for the superintendent’s Web page to demonstrate basic literacy, although she makes a quarter of a million tax dollars a year to insure that high school graduates are literate. The Board and administration think their power inoculates them from the obligation to be literate themselves although they head our school system.

This contempt for taxpayers who pay their administrative bloated salaries and who complain about this embarrassing Web illiteracy display of the overpaid superintendent involuntary tax outlay is offensive to citizens and toxic to children who attend these schools. A superintendent with a louche attitude about her own punctuation deficiencies is not likely to emphasize literacy for the students in her care.

I infer the deficient Florida FCAT scores according to the Federal government’s guidelines demonstrate this problem of reality and spin. Florida’s spinning itself passing grades despite the reality of the Federal government’s award of failing grades does not change the fact that Florida has flunked the Federal government’s standards. The deficiency in the quality of the administrative hierarchy's basic literacy is a major factor in this situation. They resort to social promotion and spin to paper over any difficulty, the students’ or theirs.

The Hillsborough County School Board allows this situation to continue. On the stump, they yammer about quality education; but on the job after election, they lose all interest in fulfilling campaign promises.

I reviewed the finalist files for the administration job Ms. Elia just captured and inferred that the Board colludes with the system of hiring the pre-picked administrative cabal's inside candidate despite lack of credentials. The Board passed over better-qualified applicants and hired Ms. Elia despite her not having a Ph.D., having reduced the terminal degree requirement to a master’s because that is what she had.

Ms. Elia’s business background was less impressive than her academic credentials. Her previous job turns out to have been head of the Hillsborough County department about which the St. Petersburg Times wrote an expose. This expose laid out the real-estate scams' costing taxpayers thousands of dollars that went on during Ms. Elia’s watch. Ms. Elia said she didn't know about the problem going on under her nose. The Board did not do its homework and head the problem off.

One infers that Ms. Elia’s trump qualification in becoming superintendent was that she was the insider picked and promoted by the insidious insider administration cabal that holds power over the employment jobs program and contract awards. A supine Board accedes to administration dictat in all decisions. Dr. Lennard was the inside candidate before Ms. Elia. The ad for the superintendent job that picked him cited the highly irregular qualification of vo tech experience because that area happened to have been Dr. Lennard’s area of concentration. One doubts that any other ad in the history of superintendent ads cited vo tech bona fides because the field has such a fragile connection with scholarship.

Massachusetts is Number One in the nation’s schools. One contribution to this fact is that the Massachusetts state legislature passed a law that says that school administrators must pass the same language test as teachers do. This is a smart move on the Massachusetts legislature’s part because a person’s skill with language equates to his or her intelligence. Goodness knows it would be an improvement to have some smart people in the Hillsborough County administration for a change.

I suspect that barrier language test that Massachusetts requires of administrators would reveal Ms. Elia’s language deficiencies and that of her second in command and reputed mentor, Dr. James Hamilton, whose writing testifies that he does not know the difference between the homophones “your” and “you’re.” He draws $132,000 a year plus perquisites despite his bewilderment about homophones that students must master in 9th-grade English.

I have attempted to interest local legislators in passing the same bill for administrative literacy as that of Massachusetts. They have shown no enthusiasm for it despite going up and down the state proclaiming Florida has a “world-class” school system. I challenged the former Senate president on that statement at Suncoast Tiger Bay, asking him to cite data to support this claim. He couldn’t.

This literacy test for administrators will not solve all literacy problems that business owners complain about in prospective employees, but it would signal a step forward. Excellence at the top in schools would foster excellence throughout the schools. Ms. Elia is not excellent; neither is Dr. Hamilton, to name just two. They are not interested in academic merit in students except as an aid to their persistence in power. They are devoted to anything that helps them hang on to power and that suckers the Board into maintaining them.

Another issue business leaders should interest themselves in for the sake of the quality of employees state schools produce is that our teachers get wretched pay—Florida is 29th in the nation. Such pay means teaching does not attract the best students. That means the best teachers often migrate to other states—Georgia and Alabama, for instance, in which legislatures have boosted teacher pay. Both pay their teachers considerably better than Florida does: Georgia is 16th in the national rankings and attracts Florida teachers over the state line as a result.

Florida needs 15,000 teachers now and doesn’t know where it will get them. It does not need 15,000 administrators, for administrative jobs get Dempsey dumpsters of applications because the pay is exorbitant. The nation-wide administrative cartel has woven a network of bloated pay for administrators that candidates cite as the going rate to justify their own exorbitant demands in a cycle of scam pay scales.

If the schools are serious about getting the requisite number of qualified teachers, they would raise teacher pay and pay no administrator more than four times the basic pay for teachers. I predict this move toward pay sanity would yield some highly qualified candidates interested in education, not absorbed in ripping off taxpayers with exorbitant pay demands and controlling tax dollars to perpetuate their power.

The widely disparate pay scales are one significant source of teachers’ low morale. Teachers see intellectually feeble people run the schools with louche incompetence tolerated by a collusive School Board yet get bloated pay compared to that of the teachers.

The legislature must curb the budget power of the local school administrations such as Hillsborough County’s, which academic weaklings fill. Without checks, these greedy people will skim more money for their own bloated salaries off the top before the students, teachers, or the rest of the education family gets a dime. And the Board rubberstamps the rip-off and gets in on the action by raising, as Hillsborough County's has done, its pay for two Board meetings a month past that of a veteran teacher with three master's degrees.

The Council of 100 has considerable power with the legislature in Tallahassee. It could interest our lawmakers in measures of benign influence on the schools: 1. require literacy examinations for administrators; 2. put curbs on the spending of school budgets so that the administrations are not able to further bloat their salaries at the expense of teacher salaries by making the top administrative salary no more than four or even three times that of the lowest-paid teacher; 3. engage in efforts such as those of Georgia and Alabama to boost teacher salaries statewide.

The illiteracy situation in the top administration of Hillsborough County schools will show below in a system-wide email by Dr. James Hamilton and Superintendent MaryEllen Elia’s online biography with my corrections to both.


Lee Drury De Cesare

15316 Gulf Boulevard 802

Madeira Beach, FL 33708

To: All Principals and Site Managers
Cap’in, Cap’in, and can you hear me?

The slurred-pronunciation of "Captain" should be "Cap'n," not "Cap'in."

I can hear you Mr. Scott, but I can’t see you, touch you and feel you!

Dr. Hamilton shows ignorant of quotation-marks protocol for quoted material.

A comma follows the first "you" for direct address; a comma follows second "you" for items in a series.

Cap’in, Cap’in, I think it’s the dilithium crystals! I just can’t get ‘er to give me more power!

"Cap'n," not "Cap'in"

Well Scotty, where am I?

Comma after "Well" for mild interjection

Cap’in I think that you’re molecules are spread across the universe, ‘cause the transporter is jammed!

"Cap'in" should be "Cap'n." "Your" should replace "you're," which is contraction for "you are." Mr. Star-Trek-Scott-Hamilton hasn't mastered homophones. Mixing up "your" and "you're" is not acceptable in a windbag to whom taxpayers fork over $132,000 annually in a system so corrupt that the bloated pay for this egomaniacal illiterate would hire more than four teachers who can spell and punctuate. The comma after "universe" cuts off a restrictive trailing adverbial dependent clause.

Well Scotty, I’ve got an important message to get to all of the principals and site managers, so put down that bottle, and stoke those engines and get me back in one piece so I can get it out by the end of the day!!!!!!!!

Comma follows "well": mild interjection. No comma after "bottle": don't separate a compound verb with a comma. Only very young children, comic books, and grown-ups stuck in arrested development use plethora of exclamation points as does Dr. Hamilton.

Compare the complaint against and punishment of Birdsall for posting on the department bulletin board material that is appropriate for a bulletin board with the previous vulgar, illiterate email sent round the email system by Dr. James Hamilton to show what he believes himself to be super-sophisticate on the cutting edge of Saturday Night Live when he, instead, ranks a wild-and-crazy flatulent fop trying to look cool but coming off as a jerk.

I have filed two complaints against this specimen with La Kipley of the Baby Shower Caper, but the Abu Gharib torture aficionado has answered neither although she assured the Board that she had the obligation to do so in all complaints. This is the double standard on display: one for the little people; another for the big people, especially those with hypertrophied and ill-placed regard for their importance such as Le Hamilton.

lee drury de cesare, Chief Expostulator of The Casting-Room Couch Blog

From: James Hamilton

To: The Entire School System on School Computers Supposed to Be Used for Serious School Business, not Vulgar Displays of Illiterate Vanity by the Second in Command with a Salary of $132,000 to Play on Taxpayer Time.

Subject: Back in Margaritaville
To: AutoOpeners

Well fans I am happy to report that the Ca'pin has survived the failure of the Dilithium crystals. While atomized across the vast reaches of space between Margaritaville and the Starship Enterprise I encountered two Klingon birds of prey lying in wait in cloaking devices. I even had a photon torpedo fly through my parts while I was waiting for Mr. Scott to reassemble my parts.

Commas should enclose "fans" for direct address. "Ca'pin" should be "Cap'n" for elision of letters. A comma goes after "Enterprise": introductory adverbial clause. "Even" is a misplaced modifier: it goes before "a photon."

They are now reassembled and I have landed in Margaritaville again. While on my way over to Louie's Backyard, I thought it would be helpful if we took a brief moment to return to Lawson Land and remember that we have more of our hard working people getting paid tomorrow, and some will need help understanding their check.

Comma goes after "reassembled": compound sentence. "It" lacks antecedent. Dr. Hamilton should hyphenate "hard working": two words before a noun acting as a single adjective. "People" should be "people's": possessive before the gerund.

And don't tell them it's them SO and SOs downtown because my phasers are not on stun, Mr. Spock. v:shapes="_x0000_i1029">

"Them" should be "those." "Them" is a solecism of such gaucherie that it places the author in the pits of illiteracy. "SO and SOs" Should be "so-and-sos": the word is a hyphenated compound that does not get capitals.
MaryEllen Elia's Online Biography

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.

Put a comma after "Officer": the "where' clause is a nonrestrictive adjectival clause.

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.

Commas should enclose “Albert” and “Tara” as non-restrictive appositives since they are sole son and daughter according to the biography.
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With compound adjectives before a noun, hyphens rank standard: magnet hyphen school supervisor; reading hyphen resource specialist. These hyphens mark two words before a noun acting as a single adjective.

Style: 18 percent of the verbs are passive. English teachers plead with students to avoid flabby passive verbs. They vitiate rhetorical force.

You suffer from the Number One style error: wordiness: “With the advent of magnet schools in 199...”: pompous wordiness. Substitute “In 1991, MaryEllen Elia became..." Third-person pomp: e.g, “MaryEllen earned a Nobel Laureate in 1981 for wondrous deeds in the reading lab.” I submit we commoners should surrender royal third person to the English queen and refer to ourselves in unpretentious first person.

Your punctuation is not as bad as that of your predecessor, Dr. Earl the Pearl Lennard—few’s punctuation could be. But your performance shows why I work for basic-English tests for administrators like those teachers must pass before marginally literate administrators begin drawing their bloated salaries while teachers get pittances.

Lee Drury De Cesare

15316 Gulf Boulevard 802

Madeira Beach, FL 33708


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Anonymous said...

Of all the articles and discussions on why is Lawson is struggling so much to perform as advertised and why some individuals are paid so much one key point has not been addressed. The dynamic makeup of the Lawson team, by that I mean its members, their personalities and their skill sets encumbers the successful completion of the project.

First for a project to work it must have executive support, real support and not lip service. Managers must send people capable of answering and asking the right questions to enable their requirements to be defined, tested and solutioned. Managers must send people capable of working in a high stress environment in a cooperative manner.

The SDHC approach was to put a husband on the project whose wife works in a position directly impacted by that work effort (and indirectly works for him) and for some SDHC managers to assign their favorite senior member of their team vs. assigning someone really capable of contributing in a project environment.

While those couple of people who could not work well in a project environment were eventually replaced (and later promoted by their departments) the husband and wife continue to wreak havoc. The husband's primary goal on the project has been to protect his wife from any negative consequences of her actions, like have 2 payroll runs go awry last spring. Needless to say she did not have to manage any more payroll runs. Another key objective was to ensure that no one outshines his wife by their own actions or contributions to the Lawson project. And how does this husband exert so much influence over the Lawson project? Well one method is that he runs both Payroll meetings and payroll sponsored meeting with other organizations. Which is odd since is not by organizational structure a member of Payroll. So it is not hard to conclude that the best place for his wife to work and for him to ensure her 'safe' environment is for her to work in Payroll. Now SDHC may offer that they she does not directly report to her husband but the reality of it is her boss does report via dotted line (operational) to her husband via the Lawson project. So now everyone one in the middle must not only manage their own responsibilities of the project but they are additional handicapped by the politics created by Dallas.

And why is this so important? Well SDHC is about to undertake an upgrade project to Lawson. Does the county really want to pay for its Project team members to remember first to watch their back first with regard to the husband / wife duo and then make those decisions that are best for SDHC?