Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Sent: Sunday, June 11, 2006 10:59 PM
Subject: When will they learn?

Email After My Appearance on ABC Sunday

The problem the school district officials have is that they don't seem to understand that when they do things like investigate an innocent teacher over 1st Amendment or get a newspaper like La Gaceta to shut up (again, 1st Amendment), they get bad press. They look worse than ever.

Look at all the bad press they've gotten over the investigation into my emails, and meanwhile I was featured nationally as a Mover and a Shaker.

Then, they try to shut down La Gaceta and get bad press for it, and you end up on a tv program.

They just don't get it. When you try to shut people up, you hurt yourself. They would do well to just let people talk. Instead, they try to throw their weight around and get burned for it. Why don't they understand this or have any PR sense?

Lee's Answer:

They are not smart people. Brains do count. Their obtuse behavior reinforces my belief that academic weaklings flock to administration.

Look at the quality of the inhabitants of the $120,000 lobbyist job and the head of Professional Standards. Those jobs could have attracted stellar candidates if a real nation-wide search had taken place.

But the administration hoarded the positions for its grubby little buddy-system jobs program with the School Board's inattentive complicity. So these important, highly paid jobs went to worse than mediocre inside candidates Milito and Kipley, the first a kindergarten teacher with the sponsorship of a top administrator; the second a home ec teacher inserted into a top job to solve an administration problem with no advertising at all of the job in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

To demonstrate Milito's level of diplomatic sophistication, she groaned loudly at Tiger Bay when I rose to ask a question. This is the conduct of a $120,000 lobbyist. Hers is the behavior of a parochial kindergarten teacher misplaced into an upper-tier job. But since all ROSSAC cowed minions adhere to such sophmoric behavior, they see it as condign for the school lobbyist to groan in public to display her aversion to free speech.

The school people all hovered together in the protection of one table at Tiger Bay. Why didn't lobbyist Mileto have enough sense of public-relations strategy to tell them to fan out across the room and sit with citizens at different tables to enhance their acceptance in the community at large? The answer is that she is not smart enough or educated enough to comprehend the importance of such maneuvers. Hers and her colleagues' is a primitive bunker mentality. They have gotten away with this abysmal performance because nobody has shone a light on it.

These are not people with capacious views of ways to garner support for the administration and Board. They are sand-lot thinkers. But because the sand-lot administration holds power of the purse with no reining in by an elected Board, they draw huge salaries for pitiful performances.

Meanwhile, the Board and administration plant pious slogans that blazon a lie on their web sites: "We are an equal-opportunity employer."

Smart people don't engage in such behavior. If a couple of enlightened Board members get elected, then things will change. The semi-enlightened ones on the Board now don't have the courage to speak up, ask questions, and demand answers. Just one courageous Board member could turn that around in a trice.

  • lee

    Ms. Milito:

    I must protest a public-relations faux pas of which I think you guilty.

    At a recent Tiger Bay meeting, I thought I heard a groan from the School Board table when I got up to ask a question but reasoned that I must be mistaken. But my husband, on the dais as a Tiger-question judge, heard the groan all the way up on the podium across the room.

    Since my husband can’t hear thunder and eschews wearing a hearing aide, I must conclude that somebody at the School Board enclave groaned.

    I can’t believe that Thelia or Sid Potter, who sat at the table on which the Board party descended and appropriated, would ever groan when a Tiger member arose to pose a question. The Potters are much too sophisticated for such behavior; as my mother would say, they were not raised in a barn. Nor do I think that groan came from Kathy Betancourt; I believe she sat at the table. I have known Kathy a long time and never knew her to groan. She will get up and holler in opposition but not groan.

    I can’t believe the two Board members who sat at the table, Dr. Lamb and Ms. Olson, have sunk to the practice of groaning at someone for whom they feel hostility. They will snarl as Dr. Lamb abetted by Ms. Olson did after the meeting when I approached them to say that their raising their own salaries for two meetings a month to the level of a veteran teacher with a master’s degree but not bothering with raising teachers’ salaries offended me. Dr. Lamb snarled that my making the comment offended him. I feared he would sit on me and reduce me to atoms.

    This hubristic Board member must have skipped class the day his civics teacher lectured on the First-Amendment right of citizens to approach government officials for redress of grievances. Dr. Lamb seemed to think such lese majeste deserved the stockade, not redress.

    I suspect you lack the sophistication and maturity not to groan. This groan alone shows how unprepared you are to do lobbying for the school system. A kindergarten teacher probably has groaning in her repertory of expressions of disapproval; but a lobbyist drawing $120,000 a year in a sensitive position that represents the School Board would have better sense than to groan at a taxpayer who pays her bloated salary. She would have sufficient academic training in psychology, political science, and protocols of diplomacy, not in having tots sing “Eeency Weency Spider,” to know that groaning is gauche and not politic, especially in a lobbyist.

    Background and intellect matter, Ms. Mileto, and yours are OK for kindergarten but not for diplomacy at $120,000 a year. Your unearned job costs me and other taxpayers too much money for such tacky ineptitude and ill manners.

    Since you run the School Board public relations despite your lack of skills for that job, I encourage you to announce via email this afternoon school wide that I will appear on ABC Channel 28 on Sunday on the Mc Laughlin show "Flashpoint" at 11 a.m., during which time I will discuss the covert extortion attempt I infer your boss Elia to have made against La Gaceta to get the publisher to shut up my criticism of the school system.

Ms. Elia sullied free speech, the primary injunction of the First Amendment, without which democracy cannot survive; now Dr. Lamb and Ms. Olson have trashed the second part that says citizens have a right to approach public officials for redress of grievances.

Have your mentor Dr. Hamilton write the notice in one of his gaudy, illiterate Margaritaville missives. I want another specimen of his illiterate vulgarity to file a third charge against him with the Professional Standards Abu Gharib.

Illiterate vulgarity ranks far worse than what subjected a teacher to Ms. Kipley’s torture tactics: taking several school children on a trip to see a university, an outing to which their parents had no objections.

I expect any day now—maybe on the hustings—for Board members to explain why this teacher merited Linda Kipley's vicious attention ; but, in contrast, Dr. Hamilton does half a job with his replacement, Dr. Otero, for which taxpayers pay double salary since he refuses to retire. He also indulges in illiterate messages on the school-wide email system. Yet the undemocratic double School Board standard for Little People versus Big People dictates that Le Hamilton does not suffer the Professional Standards consequences of his illiterate vulgarity emailed school wide, not to mention his bilking the taxpayers of his bloated $132,000 salary because Elia does not have the guts to fire him.

When you get that information on Le Hamilton's weird half-job privilege, pray do your due duty in diplomacy and send out a press release. And don’t groan so that people can hear you.

Remember to announce the glad tidings that Lee Drury De Cesare will appear on “Flash Point,” ABC, Channel 28, on June 11th at 11 a.m. and will discuss Ms. Elia’s assault on the First Amendment among other things.

Mr. Tash:

My husband gave me the section of the SPTimes today that interviews incoming Pinellas teachers. Now I hope you follow up with outgoing teachers—the peel-offs who quit after five years in the system. They should have some interesting insights into what is wrong with the way the schools mistreat teachers.

I don’t concentrate on Pinellas schools; I pound away at the Hillsborough County incompetents who run them across the bay. My children went to school in that county, so I know how bad the schools there are from long experience.

The Times has a black eye for not examining Clayton Wilcox more minutely before he took over such a crucial job. Don’t you have a conference of the smart people in the paper before such a guy gets the crucial superintendent job to review his qualifications or the lack of them? I understand he had rocky tenure in New Orleans.

Did anybody pick up the phone at the Times—preferably you—and call the Times Picayune and other papers from Wilcox’s former bailiwick for their impression of Wilcox? Would that have violated the anal-retentive ethics that newspapers have conjured to give themselves éclat for a trade that originated in the gutters of muckraking? If there’s something I can’t stand, it’s parvenus putting on airs.

I remember I approached your eminent personage at Tiger Bay and told you Wilcox’s thesis from that diploma mill NOVA contained grammar and punctuation errors. You raised your nose in the air in cachetic-ectomorphic hyper-extended self-importance and mumbled something dismissive down your nose. Maybe you don’t want the subject of grammar-punctuation bruited in the village square because your paper could use some help in that area. And then there are those language-abusing louts at Poynter Institute. You are responsible for their mauling language too.

The damage is done now in the schools. So you bring out this horse-already-out-of-the-barn journalistic lamentation about low teacher morale. Where were y’all before and during the situation’s unfolding? Why wait until the patient lies at death’s door to notice he’s mortally ill? And how did you let those ninnies on the School Board get through the gauntlet of editorial review into public office? What a bunch of flaccid wussies, sirrah, sit in the power seats on your paper.

And before I finish this homily, why haven’t you editorialized about La Elia’s serpentine attack on the First Amendment in her La Gaceta below-the-radar incursion? You wouldn’t have a job without the First Amendment, Mr. Tash. You wouldn’t even be in danger of having the blogs take that job from under your inattentive nose.

You ought to jump to a newspaper’s defense of its First Amendment rights. What’s at the bottom of your silence? Is it attenuated anti-Hispanic snobbery, or do you beguile yourself with the notion that your daily paper is somehow superior to a little community weekly the origin of which emerged from your sister Tampa Tribune,’s refusing to print Hispanic news because Hispanic peons worked in the cigar factories that the South Tampa Piney Woods two-generations-away-from-pellagra progeny owned. They created an Ybor City underclass to prop up their fragile claim to superiority.

The press’s high purpose embodies the best instincts in a community. You have flopped, Mr. Tash, in that mandate. And this tardy teacher-morale series is like one of my former student’s turning in his essay late and claiming either the dog ate his homework or his grandmother died for the third time that semester.

For shame, sir,
lee drury de cesare

NYTimes Education Editor Forum: In Tampa, Florida, and St. Petersburg, Florida, the superintendents of schools, both paid bloated salaries, have problems with basic punctuation. The last two in Hillsborough County had web sites blazoning grammar-punctuation errors. The credentials of people in administration most often are in academically flimsy education degrees. Their intellectual heft is thus insufficient to lead a student community in education. They are not smart enough or broadly educated enough to guide the instruction of these young people.

I have failed to get state legislators to pass a bill similar to the one in Massachusetts that says school administrators must pass the same language tests as do teachers. Massachusetts is, of course, the Number One school system in the country. This law would screen out the kind of people we have heading the schools in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.

The administrative school lobby represents a powerful component of this situation. Every politician running for office piously praises teachers but salutes the local superintendent and does nothing to rein in administrative salary bloat and raise teacher salaries. Florida is 39th in pay, so teachers bleed over the state line into Georgia, which is 16th. Many Florida teachers work a second job to survive.

This situation confirms my belief that academic weaklings flock to administration because that is where the money is. They cozen Board members into potted-plant state. Acquiescent Board members then rubberstamp inflated salary hikes for the administration and even themselves while ignoring money for teachers. In Hillsborough County, the Board recently voted itself a salary hike equal to that of a veteran teacher with a master's degree. When I expressed indignation to two Board members at a public forum--Dr. Jack Lamb and Mrs. Candy Olson--they attacked me for daring to ask the question of how they could raise their own salaries and ignore teachers' pay. So much for the Constitutional right to petition the government for redress of grievances.

In Hillsborough County, the beginning teacher's salary is $31,000 while a feather-bedding tier of administrators makes well above $100,000. Typical of these in Hillsborough are former home-ec and kindergarten teachers who moved up via incestuous backstairs buddy system, not via credentials. They got the jobs absent advertising them.

Two administrators occupy the same top job--second in command after the superintendent--because the senior guy, Dr. Hamilton, fancies sitting in his office and won't retire. Since he was the present superintendent's mentor and helped land her the job despite her lack of doctorate, she can't summon the grit to fire him.

To add to the Kafkaesque atmosphere, the Hillsborough administration ignores Title VII while blazoning "Equal Opportunity Employer" on its web site. This equal-opportunity hypocrisy obtains athwart the administration's using hiring as a jobs program for buddies and hangers-on. Education, of course, suffers in the community from such corruption. If anybody inside the system dares protest, the administration turns the wretch over to the Professional Standards Abu Gharib department, headed by the former home-ec specimen put into the job with no advertisement. She makes Nurse Ratchit look like Mother Teresa. The administration and Board pretend they don't know what's going on in that cell block.

Question: I believe the administrative-salary-bloat-credentials-manqué situation in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties represents no aberration. I suspect it defines a nation-wide administrative informal but potent cartel that bumps up salary scales and uses these as reference to perpetuate the aberration that continues artificially low teacher pay and artificially high administration pay.

What is your assessment of the impact on education of wide-spread administration lack of brains, educational deficiency, and self-enrichment from tax dollars in ubiquitous bloated salaries while giving teacher pay short shrift?

lee drury de cesare
15316 Gulf Boulevard 802
Madeira Beach, FL 33708