Ken Allen-April Griffith Run-off for District 6 School Board
Allen Web-site statement: KEN WILL FIGHT FOR:
• Efficient use of tax dollars – It is vital that we account for every tax dollar and that school funding be used in the most cost effective manner to ensure increased student achievement.
Mr. Allen, if you have been working inside the schools for thirty-five years, you have already had a chance to save tax dollars by increasing the quality of the personnel in the administration by advocating equal opportunity in hiring.
Cite specific instances of what you have done about the school administration’s corrupt insiders' buddy hiring that marks administrative employment practices. Cite also how you have opposed the Board-administration creation of featherbedding jobs for mediocre insider pets. What would you do if you were Board member to change these malignant practices so that students and taxpayers get the best product for the money in personnel choices? Be concrete, please.
Or do you see nothing wrong with extant hiring practices and would continue those that you must have observed during your thirty-five years in the system?
Comment on the following instances of corrupt hiring practices that do not feature the equal opportunity cited by the administration and Board on the system’s website and on their literature:
Corrupt Hiring Practices; The administration for years has distributed like M&M’s jobs in musical-chairs buddy hiring with no outside advertising to attract the most qualified candidates.
For example, 1. the administration inserted Linda Kipley as head of Professional Standards with no competition. The job pays $120,000 a year, a salary that would attract top-notch talent in a national search. Ms. Kipley’s degree is in home ec., not fitting academic background her for this important job that deals with the ethics of punishment and the psyches of the teaching staff. Since appropriating the job, Ms. Kipley has become notorious for her abusive treatment of teachers whom the administration charges with unprofessional conduct. The teachers don’t get even a handout to outline their right to appeal her behavior when entering the gauntlet of Kipley’s sadistic punishment protocol. Despite repeated requests—I have made many-- to the Board and administration, these practices continue.
2. The administration with the urging, one hears, of Dr. Jim Hamilton, awarded the $120,000 lobbyist job to Connie Mileto with no advertising for candidates with more appropriate academic credentials than Ms. Mileto’s training as a kindergarten teacher. I understand Dr. Hamilton’s wife divorced him coincidentally during this personnel saga.
3. The administration recently created a job out of thin air for Dr. Hamilton to be system-wide enforcer as Bus Czar. He gets $132,000 and perquisites for this featherbedding job out of tax monies that could go for real educational needs.
Instead of dealing with the bus problem forthrightly by 1. awarding the drivers a living wage and treating them like human beings, 2. by buying new buses to replace ones with chronic breakdowns, 3. by hiring more mechanics, and 4. by putting a monitor on buses to keep rowdy students from distracting the driver and causing an accident, the administration, rubberstamped by the potted-plant Board, created the Bus Czar manufactured perch for Dr. Hamilton, who does not know the difference between “your” and “you’re” according to his in-school email output and who immediately hired a pricey outside consulting firm for $232,000 to tell him, no doubt, what I have cited above as the solution if its practitioners have any sense.
That Dr. Hamilton couldn’t arrive at this solution by himself bespeaks his shaky managerial ethos. Or the consulting firm may come up with a gimcrack rigmarole of prescriptions to justify its outrageous fee that rips off taxpayers, accompanied by Power Point presentations and Disney graphics in giant fonts. The education-administration world is famous for such pricey, ineffective bells-and-whistles solutions from small minds for little problems.
The Bus Czar job, as usual, got no advertising for outside talent despite the board’s and administration’s robotic mantra of “equal-opportunity employer” on all administration stationery and Web site.
If you sat on the Board, Mr. Allen, would you question the need for this job and ask what job the Bus Czar slot replaces? The job description was still in the works when Dr. Hamilton’s name appeared beside the job. Is this hiring scam so customary that the administration doesn’t bother to hide it? Would you insist on wide-spread advertisement for the most talented candidate if you sat on the Board? And would you specify that the winning candidate be able to distinguish between the homophones “your” and “you’re,” a skill that evades Dr. Hamilton?
A footnote to Dr. Hamilton’s cozening is that he for a long time occupied the tandem position in which Dr. Otero replaced Dr. Hamilton. There they sit--two of them--on the Board website with Otero’s handwritten name superimposed over Hamilton’s. The Board didn’t object. I did—several times. One got the impression that the Bus Czar make-work slot emerged to give Dr. Hamilton an ersatz position so that he would consent to vacate Mr. Otero’s office. The back story on this job featured the gloss that Ms. Elia can’t make a decision without Dr. Hamilton’s Wizard-of-Oz imprimatur, so he has to stay around to guide her through more disastrous management decisions.
Would you have consented as a Board member to paying two salaries out of taxpayer monies for one job because Dr. Hamilton refused to leave and Ms. Elia can’t make decisions without him? How would you have handled this situation? In addition, would you have remained silent on the Board during the Bus Tsar obvious feint as the present Board did? The current Board either colluded in or ignored this corrupt job choreograph like potted plants, its usual posture.
4. The hiring of the superintendent as the inside candidate continues a Hillsborough-County scandal that cheats students and taxpayers of superior talent at the helm. I reviewed finalists’ files. All were superior to Ms. Elia in credentials and experience. The Board reduced the national ad’s PH.D. to Ms. Elia’s master’s degree so that she could qualify.
The choreographed alacrity with which the Board hired Elia revealed that all members’ knowingly wasting $35,000 tax money on a “nationwide” search to find the most qualified candidate in-house in a manner that gave scant credence to their repeated promise of equal opportunity and hiring the best personnel.
Ms. Elia’s supervisory experience was parochial: she had presided over the local building-department real-estate scam that cost taxpayers thousands of dollars. The St. Petersburg Times exposed the putatively criminal behavior that went on under Ms. Elia’s nose, which she claimed herself unable to detect even though a reporter walked in off the street, spotted the scam, and detailed it in a Times series. Ms. Elia also overbuilt classrooms in Westchase as building-department supervisor that she scrambled to cover up after she became superintendent by relocating one thousand weeping children, torn from their schools and friends, in a boundary scramble without appropriate parent input.
In contrast, several of the competing candidates for the superintendent position that Ms. Elia appropriated as favorite of the inside cabal had Ph.D.s from prestigious universities and rich experience including publishing in their fields.
They could also write literately and evade punctuation errors (http://grammargrinch.blogspot.com). These candidates contrast invidiously with Ms. Elia’s undistinguished academic background with bachelor’s degree from a third-tier college and parochial supervisor experience marred by the mishaps catalogued above.
Double Standard Treatment in Professional Standards: Tolerance for Big People; Punishment for Little PeopleDid you or anybody in the schools lodge a Professional-Standards inquiry against Dr. Hamilton for the unorthodox hiring participation that ROSAC scuttlebutt speculated he engaged in? The administration uses the threat of job loss and professional-standards charges against teachers and other staff to terrorize them into silence for fugitive or for manufactured offenses claimed against them to keep them quiet, but administrators get a tut tut and no more for serious ethical lapses. Did you ever object to this immoral use of the power to hire and fire by the administration? Would you on the Board?
(a) Media Specialist Bart Birdsall, for example, got hauled in for exposure to Ms. Kipley’s dubious mercies after Ms. Elia ordered an email fishing expedition of Birdsall’s school account shortly after her assuming superintendent status. She did so to accommodate the pique of one Joe Stines, head of the county library system, because Birdsall, gay, sent Stines, gay, complaints from Birdsall’s home computer about Stines’s reinforcing of Ronda Storms First-Amendment deprivation of full library access for local gays .
(b) Professional Standards trumped up a charge against Shawnree Miller, teacher, invoking a fugitive professional-standards infraction after she took her students on a field trip with parents’ permission. Nonetheless convicted of this Kafkaesque charge, she received as punishment degrading conditions imposed on her by Kipley, including the Free-Speech infraction of Kipley’s order that she not tell anyone what was going on in Shawnree’s punishment protocol and that she could not attend her students’ graduation. Shawnree Miller sorted pins in the punishment center as Kipley dawdled sadistically over the conditions for releasing her.
Ms. Miller still suffers from the trauma of this experience as does Birdsall. I am sure they felt like the wretches in Abu Gharib. The union, in bed with the administration, helped neither despite its collecting $500 a year from teachers to support CTA honchos’ hefty salaries that come out of the pittances that teachers get paid in the corrupt-pay-standards administration/Board lottery.
What would you do as board member to intervene in this malignant practice of hiring inside candidates, no matter how mediocre their credentials and deficient their experience, no matter that a candidate can’t write simple essays that feature correct punctuation?
Would you insist, instead--despite the campaign of the administration cabal to flatter and appropriate you--on hiring the superior superintendent candidate after a national search who could best serve the needs of the children of the school system, not adhering to the malignant tradition of inside cabal hiring? Or would you continue the status quo of hiring the 3rd-rate inside cipher coincident with the procedure operative during your years of school employment?
Salary Bloat for Administrators, Pittances for Teachers
Ms. Elia allegedly is the 3rd highest paid school superintendent in the country—a quarter of a million dollars yearly including perquisites.
Yet the Board gave her another five percent increase recently despite this circumstance and despite her mediocre background and deficient supervisory performance, past and current. This raise came from the Board charged with watching citizens’ tax dollars despite Ms. Elia’s having made a mess of the Westgate boundary struggle with that community with its children as hostages. Her clumsy performance has made a long-term enemy of that community.
You give this pledge on your website to voters: “Working with individual communities to solve local concerns – It is imperative that school board members listen to and communicate effectively with all interested community partners when proposing new initiatives.”
As a candidate for the Board with this pledge in mind, one is sure you attended that infamous meeting in which heartbreaking testimony of the parents to protect their children revealed an administration and Board—except for Faliera and Valdez—indifferent to parents’ pleas for more time to discuss changes since, said they, Ms. Elia had tricked them out of a chance to be heard. I would be interested in your assessment of that meeting as paradigm for the Board’s “listen[ing] to and communicat[ing] effectively with all interested community partners when proposing new initiatives,” another pledge on your campaign Web site.
Ms. Elia’s $12,500 raise exceeds a bus driver’s 3rd-world $10,000 yearly pay check for driving broken-down buses with insufficient mechanics to repair them while children in the bus make so much racket that the driver can’t attend to his driving. Dr. Hamilton sits in a new $132,000 faux job Bus Tsar with his perquisites sure, his ability to sign up needless flossy consultants a certainty. Do you consider such use of tax dollars to coincide with the promise you make to “ account for every tax dollar and that school funding be used in the most cost effective manner to ensure increased student achievement”?
Lavish administrative pay bathes the top-heavy administrative horde and siphons scarce tax dollars. This favored group features over twenty administrators’ making $100,000 or more while beginning teachers get $32,000, meaning many work a second job to survive. The so-called teacher pay raise this year merely made up for the raises the Board and administration denied teachers in the recent past while upping administrator salaries like clockwork. Do you see any fiscal sense or compensation immorality in this situation?
What is your salary plus perquisites now for your administrative job in the school system, the salary priorities of which you need to reform right now, Mr. Allen? What is the salary of the highest- and lowest-paid teachers in your school if you still manage a school? Have you ever protested to the ROSAC administration the disparity between teachers’ and administrators’ salaries?
What would you do specifically, Mr. Allen, as a Board member to intervene in the incestuous in-house superintendent hiring racket that deprives the students of stellar leadership by literate superintendent and administrators, rips off taxpayers, and mocks the ideals of education which features the best of the best as leaders? No gauzy generalities, please: specifics are what I require.
Finally, do you have the force of character and the dedication to excellence to speak out on the Board even if you are the lone voice to combat the problems listed above—if you consider them problems?
And why have you spent twenty-five years inside the system that sponsors such outrages against education as those listed and have mounted no protest? If you have ever protested anything, anywhere, may I have a copy for proof? Or have you been afraid of losing your job if you do? What specifically made you afraid of losing your job if you did have that fear? Or, instead, have you seen nothing wrong in the way the administration runs the schools, including the problems cited above, so that you have marinated as a happy-camper bureaucrat in the ongoing skullduggery of the system?
In short, Mr. Ken, do you have the daring to become a Board member who speaks up for the children, the community, and the taxpayers, not for the exploitive bureaucracy of a school system that now benefits rapacious, mediocre administrators at the expense of all others in the schools’ family as well as taxpayers?
Or does becoming a Board member provide a place for you to park after retirement to continue the bureaucratic mode of going along to get along that distinguishes most if not all of the administrative apparatchiks that now clog the school system, all paid bloated salaries compared to meager teacher compensation?
School Board member is the most important position up for political capture in this election season. Not many people understand this reality. The swarming Bay-Area political community ignores the School Board races; the print newspapers treat them as a boring sideline to the main political show.
But Henry Adams said that “a teacher affects eternity.” So does a School-Board at one remove. I want to determine that you are worthy of the job of affecting eternity by your not signing on to the current School Board potted-plant indifference to its exalted role.
I will publish your response on my blog:
Literacy Finds No Fans at ROSACI was a professor of English at Hillsborough Community College for twenty-eight years. The students who appeared in my freshman English classes had passed their English classes in the local high schools, many with A averages. Many could not write a declarative sentence with correct grammar and punctuation. A literate paragraph or well-structured essay lay beyond their ken. I taught them remedial English--grammar, punctuation, and paragraph-and-essay construction—before I could lecture on Shakespeare and Yeats.
If one examines the sentences below from the Hillsborough County education establishment, one sees what the problem is. The students’ poor performance in language—basis of education since 6th –century classical Greece—reflects the administration and Board lack of performance in and indifference to basic literacy.
We have here a case of the blind’s leading the blind. I believe if taxpayers knew about this malignant state of affairs, they would demand that administrators demonstrate enough capacity in language to demonstrate basic literacy themselves in order to be able to recognize that young people receiving diplomas from county schools demonstrate it as well. There are some parents who want good colleges and universities to accept their children, and those require literacy when the applicants submit their various letters in applications. There is a reason why institutions require these essays: they are literacy tests.
Dr. Earl Lennard retired with a golden parachute filched from taxpayers with Board collusion. He adhered to the superintendent illiteracy tradition throughout his career. He ascended onto superintendent perch after the de rigueur search costing 30,000 tax dollars. Some of the Board members who colluded in this charade of equal opportunity still sit on the Board today and repeated the travesty with Elia’s hiring: Olson, Lamb, Kurdell, and Bricklemeyer. They plucked Dr. Lennard from the bowels of local vo tech, not a hotbed of scholarship, not a locus of literacy. They selected Ms. Elia from the building department, where she had presided over the real-estate scam and over-built classrooms contretemps.
“With me this morning is [sic] Dr. Howard Sinsley, Superintendent of County Schools; John Long, Superintendent of Pasco County Schools….”
“Is” should be are: the subject is compound.
Lack of Literacy: Cost $250,000 a Year, Raised to $262,500 Next Year and Rising
From MaryEllen Elia’s online biography:
“Mary Ellen Elia received her B.A. degree from Daeman College and her M.Ed. from the University of Buffalo. In 1983, she added masters [sic] of Professional Studies in Reading from the State University in New York at Buffalo, [sic] received certification in Educational Leadership in 1989.”
Correction: “Masters” should be lower-case and possessive: “master’s” for elliptical possessive “master’s degree.” No comma after “Buffalo”: it splits a compound verb.
MaryEllen is married to Albert Elia and has two children, a son Albert and a daughter Tara.
Commas should enclose “Albert” and “Tara” as nonrestrictive appositives since they are sole son and daughter according to the biography.
I asked Ms. Elia to edit these illiteracies; she didn’t. I asked Board member Ms. Ethridge twice to put pressure on whoever could change them to do so. Ms. Ethridge is a former English teacher. This request finally got results.
Neither the administration nor Board considers literacy important—especially not for the overpaid administrators. These are above the professional-standards requirements that teachers and others must observe; these are above the need to be literate—even as heads of the tax-supported civic enterprise to make our children literate. As Leona Helmsley said, “Taxes are for the little people,” so MaryEllen Elia says, “Literacy is for the little people, not for us Olympians who lead the school system despite of our inability to punctuate and make subjects and verbs agree.”
From: Ms. Elia’s 9/13/06 Daemon College alma mater Web page:
"You do not need to make an appointment, [sic] just drop by!"
The comma after “appointment” should be a period: comma splice, a grammar felony.
"Please write the best time slot into your calendar, [sic] and join us for some fun…."
No comma after “calendar”: it splits a compound verb.
Join us for a free pedometer, [sic] and logs that you can use to track your activity.
No comma after “pedometer”: it splits a compound object of the preposition “for.”
Elia’s salary is now $250,000, rumored the third highest in the nation; the Board has recently bestowed on her a $12,500 raise in addition, more than the 3rd-world wages of schools’ bus drivers, who drive buses that break down without mechanics to fix them and who fear they will wreck the buses due to the distraction for lack of a bus aide to keep the children quiet.
Dr. James Hamilton: Salary $132,000 plus perquisites; the Board just created a new job for him and did not advertise it.
From a school-district email:
“Well [sic] fans I am happy to report that Ca’pin has survived the failure of the Dilithinum crystals. While atomized across the vast reaches of space between Margaritaville and the Starship Enterprise [sic] I encountered two Klingon birds of prey lying in wait in cloaking devices. I even [sic] had a photon torpedo fly through my parts while I was waiting for Mr. Spock to reassemble my parts.
A comma follows “Well” for mild interjection. "Cap'in" should be "Cap'n." A comma follows “Enterprise” for introductory adverbial clause. “Even” is a misplaced modifier: it goes before “a photon.”
And don’t tell them it’s them [sic] SO and SOs [sic] downtown because my phasers are not on stun, Mr. Spock.
The second “them” should be “those.” This lapse represents a solecism of such gaucherie that it places its author as suffering from Dogpatch illiteracy, hardly a recommendation for a pay of $132,000 in a school system charged with curing such ungrammatical afflictions in students. “SO and SOs” should be “so-and-sos: a hyphenated compound that does not get capitals.
Cap’in I think that you’re [sic] molecules are spread across the universe, [sic] ‘cause the transporter is jammed!
Dr. Hamilton can’t distinguish between homophones “your” and “you’re.” The comma after “universe” is redundant, cutting off a trailing restrictive adverbial clause. Perhaps this fellow has spent too much time in Margaritaville.
The error below comes from Board member Candy Olson’s online biography. She voted to raise her salary for attending several meetings a month to that of a full-time veteran teacher with a master’s degree: $37,500:
Candy Olson has served on the Hillsborough County School Board since 1994, [sic] and has chaired the board twice.
The comma after “1994” separates a compound verb.
All correspondence [sic] including email sent to School Board members or School District staff [sic] are [sic] considered public records, per Florida Statute 119
This grammar-punctuation disaster adorns the first page of the district’s Web site. It features a grammar felony: subject-verb agreement; three comma errors; and no end punctuation. The “including…” present participial phrase is nonrestrictive; the “are” should be “is” to agree with the subject “correspondence.” There should be a period at the end of the sentence.