Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Email to Members of the Hillsborough County School Board from a Disgusted Citizen and Former Teacher



From: lee decesare [mailto:tdecesar@tampabay.rr.com]
Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2007 10:19 PM
To: amanteiga@lagacetanewspaper.com; Candy Olson (candy.olson@sdhc.k12.fl.us); edgecomb (doretha.edgecomb@sdhc.k12.fl.us); faliero (jennifer.faliero@sdhc.k12.fl.us); Jack Lamb (Jack.Lamb@sdhc.k12.fl.us); Susan Valdes (susan.valdes@sdhc.k12.fl.us); 'carol.kurdell@sdhc.k12.fl.us'
Cc: 'mbrown@tampatrib.com'; 'letitiastein@sptimes.com'; 'jhill@sptimes.com'; 'Patrick Manteiga'; 'ptash@sptimes.com'; 'Howardtroxler@sptimes.com'; 'ellensebelius@tampatrib.com'; Dabonich@aol.com; Doug & Cathy SCW (dcurless2@cox.net); Edith A Tobul (edt@ncweb.com); Frank Sanchez (pacojs1@aol.com); KPerezhsb2004@aol.com (KPerezhsb2004@aol.com); Margie (mdjean@msn.com); rich (richbradburytampa@gmail.com); Stein (ehstein@usa.net); Tiger Bay Club of Tampa (tigerbay@tampabay.rr.com); Warren Rachels (WRACHELS@tampabay.rr.com)
Subject: monkey biz as usual

To: Hillsborough County School Board Members

Subject: Board's and Administrators' Behaving Badly

c: Ignored , Abused, Put-upon Teachers

From: lee drury de cesare

Everyone must have seen the Lamb story in the metro section of today's Tribune.

That story gets this reaction from me:

Bay Area Pedagogues, unite. You have nothing to lose but chains of oppression draped on you by the School Board Collaborators with the D-student administration, headed by a superintendent for whom the Board lowered the standards to hire instead of one of several qualified outside candidates with doctorates, rich experience, and the ability to write standard English whereas La Elia does not know where to put a comma or how to treat teachers with the dignity they deserve.

Or, as Shakespeare said: "There is a tide in the affairs of men (women, too)that leads on to greatness;/Omitted, all the voyage of their lives are bound in shallows and in miseries."

Teachers whom Elia with the Board's complicity ripped off with 2 sneak-extra-period-with-no-pay attack should recruit a courageous cadre of teachers to file a Professional Standards charge against the old Pooh Bah Le Lambkin. The more the better. But just one with sufficient courage can do the deed.

The best attitude in tasks such as this is to enter laughing (see below my Chanel 13 EEOC charge) but to keep a straight face and sober demean at other times. Assume a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger demeanor. If you are a natural sobersides, God bless you. My impulse is to laugh when fate serves up such a tidbit of retaliation fodder against the Minions of Darkness.

The press will give renegade teachers good coverage, I predict. The press loves rebels. My years of handling press relations in the original Tampa NOW convinces me teachers have a winner here that will make the Board and the administration shake in their boots and will conduce to their treating teachers more like human beings and less like plantation workers.

Don't sit and suck your thumbs. Make a decision and act.

Teachers who challenge by filing a Professional Standards charge against this double standard of behavior for a Board pooh-bah who complains that teachers' clapping is "uncivil" but that his violating Board policy is mere contretemps will gain instant credibility with the Board, the administration, and the press. It will show teachers able to play hardball and stare down the administration and Board bullies who demean them.

lee
from: lee decesare [tdecesar@tampabay.rr.com] sent: Wed 4/18/2007 3:01 PM
cc: paultash@sptimes.com; howardtroxler@sptimes.com; johnhill@sptimes.com; suecompton@sptimes.com; adamsmith@sptimes.com; 'Patrick Manteiga'; Msbornwriter@aol.com; helenhuntley@sptimes.com; tisch@sptimes.com; Bruce Burnham; Dabonich@aol.com; Edith A Tobul; Frank Sanchez; KPerezhsb2004@aol.com; Margie; montolino; rich; Stein; Tiger Bay Club of Tampa; Warren Rachels

Subject: Whoopee

The Lamb story: simply wonderful, Ms. Egedalius. You get today's H.L. Mencken Guts award.
Some of us gadflies will soon file a Professional Conduct charge against La Lamb. I shall try to recruit enraged teachers to the joyous task. I know how this thing works because I helped Bart Birdsall survive the false charge cooked up against him by Superintendent Elia and her Lucco Brazzi Linda Kipley of the Professional Standards Abu Gharib Cell Block.

Dr. Lamb is always puffing about following Robert's Rules in the éclat of his chairship of the School Board, on which he has served with barely disguised hubris since the Pleistocene Era.

At the last meeting, packed with grieved teachers following the administration's and Board's rip off-of the extra class loaded on them to solve the incompetent, comma-challenged Elia budget problems, Dr. Lamb made a bizarre let-them-eat-cake horseback ruling about the audience teachers' conduct. When teachers applauded one of their members at the mike, Dr. Lamb said, "This applause is uncivil."
I am not making this up. Examine the transcripts.

Want me to lend you one of my Moo Moo Fou Fou purses for your next big event? Just say the word. I'll throw in a pair of my Manohla Blanicks if you wear a 7 1/2 B.

lee drury de cesare

The Press Is Waking Up to the Board's and Administration's Crass Treatment of Teachers

In last week's La Gaceta's "As We Heard It," must-read for Bay-area political people, Publisher Patrick Manteiga says this:

"Hillsborough County high-school teachers are upset because the school administration has not effectively communicated its new requirement to have them teach six of seven periods in the 2007-2008 school year instead of the five of seven they currently teach.

Rumors abound about the firings and assigning teachers to unfamiliar subjects. Teachers are angry, feeling they are being asked to work harder and longer without additional compensation.

All this to save $28 million by changing the day their day is structured.

Everyone says teachers are our greatest resource, but at times like this, they seem to have no advocates. he union, administration and even the parents remain quiet.

We risk losing some of these teachers, destroying their morale, and making them less effective in teaching our children. Are the savings worth it?"


As Robert Burns said, ""O' wad some pow'r the giftie gi'e us, tae see o'orsels as ithers see us." I translate for Board and administration reluctant scholars: "Oh, would some power the gift to give us to see ourselves as others see us."

Board members can't evade what teachers saw April 10th. They must depart the ROSSAC through-the-looking-glass world and enter the real world. This teacher blog, The Wall, with URL below contains revealing teachers' reactions to that turbulent meeting at which the Board sat bemused as teachers lectured them from the podium.

http://call-in-6.blogspot.com/2007/04/you-aint-seen-nothing-yet.html

Since my children attended Grady, Coleman, and Plant, I have fought with and observed the Board for forty years. That experience gives me context.


What offended me most at the
packed April 15th meeting in which democracy enjoyed rare display was the Board's contempt for the cafeteria worker. She spoke first in the citizens' hearing. The Board's indifference to this woman reminded me of Doug Erwin 's treatment some years back. He reported crooks in the building department, and the Board ignored Irwin and abandoned him to the sadism of the Earl-the-Pearl-Lennard administration. The record shows that the Board has always cooperated with the administration's skullduggery.

The Board signed off for the Lennard's administration's legal persecution of Erwin and for even the failed appeal of the court decision favoring Mr. Erwin. It underwrote punishment of this whistleblower with public funds and shielded the guilty administration, especially those who made Erwin's life miserable after he blew the whistle on corruption.

After pissing away a pile of tax money on legal bills and displaying its low ethics, the Board paid Erwin what the courts ordered.

Erwin declined to resume his job and retired, one infers, a disillusioned man.

Recently, the County gave Erwin an award for courage. He journeyed from retirement in Georgia to receive it. Not one Board member attended the ceremony. This vignette gives us insight into the the ethics of the School Board of Hillsborough County.

Dealing with the School Board is analogous to Siegfried and Roy's job. Remember what happened to Roy? A seven-year-old white tiger called Montecore grabbed him by the neck and dragged him off stage. It was nip and tuck for a while for dear mistaken Roy, incarcerated in the Intensive Care Unit.

Those big Board cats may look lovable and teachers may wish they were, but just get too near them and let down your guard, and you may replicate Roy's wake-up call.

Teachers forget this history at their peril. Thinking the Board will rescue teacher from Elia is sentimental skewed thinking. The teachers have to save themselves from a common opponent: the administration Board duo.

The Board-administration had put the cafeteria worker whom they ignored on leave for whistle-blowing unsanitary conditions at her place of work--including roach infestation. But it won't pay her the money it owes her, she said, a tough situation for a cafeteria worker for sure. As one watched, the Board members all acted as if this woman were a dehumanized bug herself when she stood at the podium pleading her case.

The quality of mercy is not strained; it droppeth from heaven like the gentle rain--but not from the gentle Board.


The cafeteria-worker tableaux laid bare the Board's indifference to anything but its own wellbeing, which includes indulging in the entres nous patter of the ROSSAC tribal pod that Board members become part of the minute they triumph in the voting booth. Pod members--Board and administration--have no empathy for those outside the pod.

All promises of keeping in touch with citizens, all pledges of revolutionizing the school system to include the whole school family, all avowals to guard every penny of taxpayer money get tossed into the slag heap of broken campaign promises as Board members enter ROSSAC Valhalla to rubberstamp administration fiats and bask in the limelight of public éclat. And, oh yes, go on jaunts at public expense: the Board gaggle is out in San Francisco this week on a putative national board conference. I'd like to give them a pop quiz on what they learned as they step off the plane.

Compared to Hillsborough County School Board members, Woton is a model of modesty.

The first courageous, non-Siegfred-and-Roy-cat Board member has yet to surface and show desire to hear from teachers. Board members are scared to depart the script for fear other Board members and administrators will freeze them out of gossip fests and deprive them of cupcakes at Board tea parties. Only a Board member with guts will move to give teachers a permanent slot on the Board agenda to protect themselves against future rip-offs. If the Board respects teachers in deed instead of hypocritical word, it will vote this teacher slot on the agenda. But teachers have to have the chutzpah to make them.

A vote on a teacher place at the table will tell all. The lights on the vote panels will target Board members who respect and who don't respect teachers. That list will comprise targets at Board members re-election time. It will give opponents a ready-made agenda on which to run against Board members who voted against hearing from teachers and ceding them their own space on the agenda.

Voters love teachers. They don't love administrators and Board members. The voting public that loves teachers won't take kindly to a member who votes against a slot for teachers on the Board agenda. If an opponent pounds that issue and teachers assist this opponent, I predict a rare incumbent ousting.


It's hard to pick a leader from the astute, articulate teachers who spoke April 10th because they all were leaders. Any one would make a fine head of a permanent teacher nucleus to take on the politics of opposition to Board and administration unfair treatment of teachers. A priority for this group should be to request of the Tribune and SPTimes an editorial-board interview at election time to give this on-the-ground teachers' views of the candidates. The same thing goes for my old boss of La Gaceta, Mr. Manteiga.

Real classroom teachers will get those interviews, I predict, which they need because the CTA staff has jumped into bed with the administration and doesn't represent teachers' best interests in its endorsement interviews and endorsements. Newspapers respect real teachers as does everyone.

The teacher corps can solicit views of every teacher in the system--God bless technology--and collate teacher priorities for the the editorial board.

And, of course, teachers will interview School Board candidates and issue real teachers' endorsements. Those will be the most sought-after endorsements in the County.

Prominent question to candidates should deal with Board member's conduct in this extra-class debacle that consigns teachers to work without pay compared to Board largesse in Elia's obscene salary, perquisites, and bonuses stolen from teachers' work. The Board rubberstamped stealing credit from teachers for gains teachers made in raising student scores and handing another $48,000 "bonus" to Elia for these gains, even though she is a poor model for students since she can't use commas with aplomb. Prominent in election dialogue with candidates should be Elia's bloated loot compared to teachers' meager salaries and heavy work loads.

Teachers can even ask for and get a guest slot at Tiger Bay to lay out their problems and their solutions to them, not the administration, not the rubber-stamp potted-plant Board. Tiger Bay can't turn down teachers. Nobody turns down teachers and survives to tell the tale.


Teachers rank conscientious and peaceful genus. The Tribune's Brown was right when she said so in the article below. But they must not shrink from confrontation and let these traits prevent their assessing Olson's-Edgecomb's "teachers behaving badly" slurs on the 10th. These were arrogant, ham-handed efforts to tap into teachers' automatic response to their "get- in-line-and-be-good" genes. What those two said translated into this:

"Teachers, don't exercise your constitutional rights to free speech. Just give up and roll over and show your bellies. Classroom teachers, abandon your right to confront elected officials to express grievances. Teachers, surrender your wills and agree to be automatons on the ROSSAC plantation. Cooperate in performing your sole purpose, dictated from our privileged perch, which is to tote that barge and lift that bale. Your silent labor provides tax-kitty economic base for us nobs in the ROSSAC Big House to preen in public gatherings and enjoy faux reputations as elected humanitarians who care about education. In fact, we care only about the power, prestige, and community standing that a slot on the School Board gives us, and we Board Olympians are damned determined to hold on to incumbency by lying to teachers if needed."

Here's my data on Elia's looting of the tax kitty with Board collusion: her bloated salary, perquisites, and "bonus" stolen from teachers for student achievement that teachers effected:

a. Salary: $262,000; b. perquisites: God knows what the bill is for pricey trips, "conferences," luxury hoedowns peripheral to education, etc. she has swanned around partaking in; c. $48,000 "bonus" for teacher labor for student achievement transferred to her from Board enablers, the ones who hired her as the pre-designated political insider despite meager credentials including deficient literacy.
The Board voted itself a raise so that their salary exceeds that of beginning teachers. The Board's hand is never slow when it comes to ROSSAC minions' compensation, especially their own.


We can get a total from the Public Affairs office under the Public Records law for Ms. Elia's expenses and add this to her bloated package.
I wrote Linda Cobbe of the Public Affairs Office for these data.
Ask for public records yourselves any time a question pops into your head. The administration must cough up answers because the law says so. The Board attorney must tell ROSSAC as an officer of the court that, yes, ROSSAC anointed pooh-bahs must obey the open-records law.

Sat 4/14/2007 11:12 AM
lee decesare [tdecesar@tampabay.rr.com]
Ms. Cobbe: At the 10th Board meeting, Ms. Elia's expenses came up. Could I have a copy of the tax money she spent in this area for the year before her current raise and bonuses?

Thank you.

lee drury de cesare

Delicious speculation:


The Ouija Board predicts that the
next $100,000 job for sycophant with degrees in basket weaving and thumb sucking goes to the new slot of food taster for Elia. This position looms because Dr. Rasputin Otero may have morphed into Ms. Elia's Best Boy after she defeated him for the superintendent sinecure with covert plans.

Rumors say Rasputin Otero's eyes gleam with malignant purpose on the full of the moon.

Poison forensics may pop up on the Board agenda. ROSSAC will undergo block-off with police red tape as a crime scene and featured on Court TV's "Forensic Files." Fun will be had by all.




























Through the eyes of the Fourth Estate: Les Steins and Brown




ANGRY TEACHERS CONFRONT BOARD
[2 TAMPA Edition]
St. Petersburg Times - St. Petersburg, Fla.
Author: LETITIA STEIN
Date: Apr 11, 2007
Start Page: 1.B
Section: TAMPA & STATE
Text Word Count: 844
Document Text
Copyright Times Publishing Co. Apr 11, 2007

The superintendent's plan to give high school instructors more work brings out a crowd.

A packed boardroom of irate high school teachers showed the Hillsborough School Board on Tuesday night the level of festering discontent over a move to increase their teaching loads next year.

The rowdy : Modifiers give away bias, Ms. Stein. "Rowdy" means ""coarse or boisterous in behavior." The word is synonymous with "rambunctious," "raucous." I suggest as a teacher of language that "lively" might have been less tendentious choice.
crowd - to some School Board members, downright disrespectful - dominated the meeting. Superintendent MaryEllen Elia acknowledged to teachers that she wished the reasons for her decision had been better communicated --conveniently late so as to have carved them in stone.

Reporter sloth: Did you ask her why she did not communicate to them since that is part of her job as effective administrator? Such failures show the meager management credentials La Elia brought to the job for which the Board lowered degree, experience, and literacy credentials to those of to Elia's credentials manqué. Elia 's on-line junior-high essays show she can't write a memo with mature rhetoric and correct grammar and punctuation to save her life .

To top the Elia hiring scam off, the Board conducted a faux "nation-wide" search costing taxpayers $35,000. This sham search covered the Board's duplicity to citizens who pick up the tab for such flimflamming by these "public servants.'"

Still, the mood in the room remained angry. The teachers were more indignant than angry. They felt that the superintendent, abetted by the Board, had betrayed them. They were right. Teachers were the majority of more than 100 community members I estimated more than a hundred by counting rows and numbers per row. at the board meeting, which rarely attract: reporter subject-verb agreement error; the subject of the subordinate clause, "which," points back to "meeting." Are there no alert copy editors at the SPTimes? such large crowds.

The Hillsborough County Farm Bureau even sent a representative to protest the reassignment of agricultural teachers to other fields, one of the many rumored changes that stirred up the crowd. You should have gotten this guy's name. He was intelligent, handsome, articulate, and stood down the Board's attempt to cut his time. Do reporters never bestir themselves to get such information as a boffo speaker's name for the public? I hear Ms. Faliera made an appointment to meet with him after he said that he lived in her county and that his group would challenge her incumbency. That's how effective he was.

The dozen teachers There were, I believe I heard Chair Lamb say, 17 teachers, 2 students, and one elderly incendiary (the last-named would be I). Reporters are supposed to have a fetish for correct data. Where was yours, young lady? who signed up to speak outlined their problems with the decision to force all high school teachers to spend 300 minutes in front of classes every day - 30 to 50 minutes more than today's schedules. For many, this means picking up a sixth class period at the expense of planning time.

Teachers warned that they would be forced to dumb down lessons and assign busywork to free up time for required paperwork. They predicted a drop in club sponsorship. As morale plunges, they expect teacher burnout to rise.

The prospect brought Sarah Robinson to her first board meeting in 18 years as a teacher in Hillsborough schools. She told board members that she's thinking about leaving.

"I don't know how I can work harder," she said, handing over a petition in protest signed by other teachers at Leto High. "I'm rather insulted that I'm being asked to."

Politicians such as Board members count noses. This petition will have impressed them if they have an instinct for survival. Hubris may overwhelmed it, however. The minute they walk into ROSSAC, they become the regals.

Why didn't you pittypat up to Board members after the meeting and ask the two who dumped on teachers--Olson and Edgecomb--what their response to the petition and the meeting was? Politicians die to get quoted in the paper. A quote often reveals hubris malgre lui.

Other teachers worried about rumors that an unusually Dump this redundant adverb. Remember Strunk & White inveighs against redundant modifiers. high number of high school teachers could Passive verbs are weak and wordy: use "The cuts could affect..."be affected by cuts to some teaching positions. Any displaced teacher would have the opportunity to transfer to another job or Hillsborough school. School district officials do not yet know precisely how many teachers will be affected Eschew passive verbs. They make a writer's tone less confident. at the middle and high schools. It would be no more than 5 percent of the 15,000 teachers in all of Hillsborough's schools, said Janice Velez, general manager of personnel in the human resources division.

This figure I heard disputed in the audience, where because of the SRO-only crowd, I stood in the back. I heard teachers' predicting teacher job losses. The farm guy said that there had already been losses in his area. Why didn't you ask Ms. Elia if Ms. Velez's figure were an iron-clad promise? Ms. Elia is slovenly and duplicitous with statistics; you recall how she gave the county skewed enrollment figures to bump up the money she milks from the it. Such superintendent skewing of numbers vitiates trust in her statistical promises. Administrators say many factors - from state class size limits to the extra class time teachers are being forced Go on the wagon with passive, pussyfooting verbs. They make flaccid your writing and are always longer than active verbs. to pick up - are complicating Reserve progressive verbs for action in progress. What you describe ranks recurring problem: it gets simple verb, present tense" : complicate." the annual assignment of teaching positions. Pay attention to your verbs , Ms. Stein: they make or break a writing style.

Displaced teachers can look for jobs in their areas of specialty at other high schools before entering the teacher pool, which allows instructors to pick from available positions based on seniority.

Steve Kemp, a Sickles High teacher of students with disabilities, is among those affected. When his department lost a teaching position, he was offered a chance to teach in an area that didn't interest him.

He said he wasn't told about the pool immediately. Another administration failure to communicate While that alternative provides some comfort, he remains upset about how the situation was handled.

"There's just a lot of frustration and tension," said Kemp, in his fourth year teaching as a second career. This human vignette is good, Ms. Reporter Person. But what was his first career? Readers are dying to know.

School officials echoed frustration. For several months, the superintendent's staff has tried to explain the need for the change.

What ails them? Don't they have enough mastery of the English language to do this chore? Such revelations confirm my belief that none in ROSSAC would smash into the upper limits of the Stanford Binet. Yet these lower-quartile critters get highest salaries in the system, based not on intelligence and competence but on buddy status with the superintendent and/or sycophancy talent to massage her power-hungry ego.

The Board never advertises bloated-salary ROSSAC jobs despite its pious "We-are-an-equal-opportunity-employer" spin of the grungy practice of the superintendent's passing around these bloated-salary perches to buddies and glutei kissers.

Such is unexpressed but potent perquisite. It's called patronage. Patronage ranks powerful tool for those who wield it. It has been corrosive to school administrative quality. D students flock to administrations, and at ROSSAC they hunker and fester to consume tax dollars like ravening featherbedding phagocytes.

Teachers all over the country testify to the obtuseness of administration denizens. Administrative deadwood and stupidity weigh down school systems country - wide.

By having high school instructors teach 300 minutes - the same as elementary teachers - the district anticipates saving $28-million in new hyphenated adjective teacher salaries and benefits. Even if they Pronoun-antecedent error: "it" points back to "district." could afford new teachers, officials said they could not find enough qualified teachers to meet the demands of the state's class hyphenated adjective before a noun size amendment.

Finding and hiring unqualified administrators have never been a problem at ROSSAC.

"I wish that this had been communicated Here's a prime example of the etiolated force and sneakiness of the passive voice , the favorite verb for politicians . People who want to hide something--as Elia does--resort to the passive voice to eschew responsibility. What La Elia should say out front is "I wish I had communicated..."in a way that got the word out and the understanding to all the people involved in this," Elia said, pointing out that meetings were held Sneaky passive verb cloaks Elia's responsibility around the county. "It still wasn't enough."

Ms. Elia has a history on botched, phantom meetings to live down from her clumsy boundary snafu that enraged so many parents and plunged so many tots into tears because of the unneeded shift of their schools. These boundary changes came from the effort to cover up Elia's buildings-department overbuilding of classrooms. Elia scheduled the boundary-changes-phantom meetings to inform parents at inconvenient times and didn't give valid information according to parents. Meetings turned away some parents.

Bamboozling the supine Board and outright lying are two constants in La Elia's management style. She has developed an all-purpose script for the failure of her allegedly beaucoup meetings to inform. She rolled it out for this mess-up.

La Elia got her job despite better candidates by bamboozling the Board. And she will keep at that diverting tactic 'til some new Board members smarten up and call her to task on this unethical persiflage. Don't hold your breath for that to happen.

The dirty little secret in ROSSAC that evokes titters behind Board members' backs is that the administration holds the Board in abiding contempt and considers it an annoyance to evade, not a force in running of the schools. The administration imagines it bosses the Board, not vice versa. The administration is right about who's boss as long as the Board contents itself with being ceremonial potted plants and ROSSAC figures of fun.

The superintendent's remarks did little to ease the tension Here you need a more accurate noun: I suggest "contempt." among teachers at the back of the room. Many burst out laughing at Elia's observation that "this is a benefit to our students."

The crowd cheered when a few speakers made critical remarks about the superintendent's salary package. Another applause line was omit colon: proposals for administration to feel some of the pain of the budgetary belt tightening. "Belt tightening" is a cliché. I infer newspapers favor cliché diction for the unwashed masses for whom they believe they write. I counsel against this condescension. I don't believe it conduces to winning Pulitzers. I suggest some alternative to "belt tightening-- such as "reduction." Prefer neutral English to worn-out metaphors.

The rowdiness Tendentious diction: What about "hubbub" for a more neutral description? Here would be a good place to insert Chair Lamb's rebuke when he said that audience clapping was "uncivil" and athwart Robert's Rules.

Robert's Rules have taken a malignant hold on Dr. Lamb's mind since his becoming Board chair and taken on airs of infallibility. The old darling is apt to blame everything he dislikes on Roberts Rules. AIDS and people's blowing their noses in camera will be athwart Robert's Rules next. rubbed board member Doretha Edgecomb the wrong way. A former accuracy: Ms. Edgecomb was a grammar-school principal, I understand. school principal, she noted her pride that Hillsborough teachers had come forward to share their concerns.

Reporter curiosity should prompt asking teachers how this statement coincides with the retaliation they feared for coming forward and the "needs improvements" they expect likely to get on their next evaluations as the unspoken but understood retaliation regime of Ms. Elia seeps down into the ranks of her pay-back apparatchiks.

Reporter alertness should have required answer from Ms. Ethridge of her knowledge of this well-known retaliation ethos for anyone who steps forward to protest the administration's mismanagement. Ms. Edgecomb is either deaf and dumb about ROSSAC retaliation--or lying like a rug.

But not the manner in which they came.

"As a 43-year veteran educator, I know that none of you would have accepted some of the behavior from your students that you hurled at us," she said. "You have a right to disagree, but there's something called mutual respect." Here is where an astute reporter would have zeroed in on leitmotif of Board members who don't want people to have First Amendment privileges to complain to their elective officials for redress of grievances. What these ROSSAC Board grandees want is to have the éclat of public office without the criticism that goes by Constitutional citizen's rights with it. When elected, Board poseurs think they have assumed the purple and should enjoy the Divine Right of Kings to be free of all criticism.

Board members are hospitable only to worship from their underlings-- which is all the school family right down to the janitors, not to mention their lust for constantly glowing press from somnolent or collusive minstrel reporters.

Don't become a press suck-up to this Board. You will never get a condo in heaven in H.L. Mencken's complex if you do. You should have asked, "Ms. Ethridge, Ms. Olson, define the difference between what you called teacher bad behavior and the Constitutional right to criticize elected officials." These two Board Queen Bees have a skewed definition of respect. It's disrespectful to them for teachers to protest teachers' being ripped off; but it's respectful to teachers of the Board to go along with Elia's piling more work on teachers' shoulders without consulting them.

Letitia Stein can be reached at lstein@sptimes.com or (813) 226- 3400.

Ms. Steins: follow my http:///grammargrinch.blogspot.com blog and review your grammar primer on pronoun-antecedent agreement and the section the injury passive verbs do to your writing.

lee drury de cesare







Brown's data prompt me to write to Ms. Ms. Faliera:

Email on 4/14

Board Member Faliera:

To demonstrate that you want to hear from teachers, what about moving that a permanent slot go in the Board agenda for teachers to own a Board-forum place?

You also need to make sure that Ms. Elia and Professional-Standards-Abu-Ghraib Kipley--not to mention the network of snitches and collaborators must not retaliate against teachers. This snitch-collaborator network needs to understand that it can't harry teachers who address the Board. The snitches can't punish teachers who speak to the Board under the guise of cooked-up charges and "needs improvement" evaluations.

When I read this enlightened comment from you about teachers in Brown's column, one could have knocked me over with a feather. I had long since consigned you to the role of permanent ally to Elia's mischief. Perhaps I have misjudged you as being the dumbest member of the Board--not to mention Elia's girlfriend as gossip reports. I'll transfer that designation to Ms. Kurdell until I evaluate you further.
As to the epistemological assumptions of "policy" : "Policy" comes from Middle French "policier." Its relevant meaning is "to supervise the operation, execution, or administration of to prevent or detect and prosecute violations of rules and regulations."

That definition involves ample latitude for an effective Board to monitor Ms. Elia's implementation of this disastrous decision. Why was Elia's edict slapped in the teachers' faces with no warning? When did the Board order--never mind ask-- Elia to invite teachers to participate in the decision of how to implement this policy, using guidelines cited in the law? What strange lack of imagination caused the Board not to tell Ms. Elia to form a teacher committee to solve it? Why weren't some of the other alternatives listed in the law considered before jumping on the screw-the-teachers-with extra-work solution? Why don't y'all on the Board admonish Ms. Elia for her insulting arrogance to teachers about enacting this policy of major impact to them while excluding them from the loop of solving it?

Administration prevarication as a violation of policy: If a hundred meetings occurred to explain the policy, why was it so unknown, even to Board members? Why did Board member Griffin learn about it from her son? Why did you learn about the policy from other-than-administration sources? Why did Elia single out Olson and Kurdell to tell about the policy? Why didn't Olson and Kurdell have sense enough to remind her that such a catastrophe would need dissemination, diplomacy, and teacher involvement for teachers to accept such bitter medicine? How can the Board trust that a superintendent so obtuse that she writes junior-high prose adorned with punctuation errors has made the right call on implementing this policy of durance to bewildered and angered teachers?

Elia's latest mess-up makes imperative that the Board observe restraint or, better, retrenchment in piling money onto Elia as if she were a great superintendent instead of a disastrous one. The Board's history is to download more money on her mistakes. The worse Elia is, the more the Board pays her. The Board can't find money to pay teachers as do school leaders in enlightened states. But it can always pile more tax money on Elia and even steal money from teachers' raising student achievement to pass it on to Elia as a "bonus."

The only time I had an email from you, ma'am, was when you caterwauled about how unkind I have been to the Board. You served up be-nice rigmarole that Board members revert to when they can't take criticism that a public official should expect in a democracy. Instead, they whine about the incivility of somebody who points out their defects as a public servants. And they become fastidious diction experts of voter complaints. Forget about giving me this spiel. It doesn't affect my rhetorical style one jot.
What about emailing me pronto about whether you will bring up the teacher-slot motion to make a permanent place for teachers on the agenda? If you don't want to do it, I will continue to shop the proposal to Board members until some board paragon picks up on it--maybe your replacement after the next election.
Your replacement shall be one that will be one not far gone in the hypocrisy of saying how much he/she reveres teachers but refuses to allow them a talking post in the Board Agenda.
I hear you made an appointment with that young farmer to propitiate him after he said he lived in your district and would oppose your incumbency and get the other farm-bureau fellows to do likewise. That shows desperation, Ms. Faliera. Desperation is what you should feel. You don't serve students, teachers, staff, or citizens. You serve the administration Pod. You are ripe for replacement. There are only a few administrators; there are lots of teachers, staff, citizens, and students. Count votes yourself and repent.
If that farm guy to run for your seat, I will slap $500 in the farm fellow's hand the minute he announces; then I will beg teachers to support him with any money they can eke from the meager salaries and with feet-on-the-ground work for his campaign.

If that fellow runs against you, Ms. Faliera, you will lose. He's not only smarter than you; he's prettier.

lee drury de cesare

Brown's previous Tribune article pointed out that in other school districts voters elect the superintendent. Given the Board's and Elia's disrespect of teachers, it's time teachers found out how to get the election of the superintendent of Hillsborough County on the ballot. Voters can fire an elected superintendent; the Board won't fire Elia until hell freezes over and will probably next give her her own nuclear deterrent . The worse she gets, the more money the Board shovels on her. An elected superintendent would bypass the political Board-administration collusion that picks a superintendent of Elia's deficient academic record , experience, and management skills from the local no-talent ROSSAC dumbbells. No system could be worse than the present one.

The only time a Board member pays any attention to a complaint from a voter occurs when that voter threatens her/his incumbency. That's why the handsome farmer running against Faliera cheers me.


TBO.com > News > Metro

Hillsborough Teachers Actively Fighting Added Class Time

Published: Apr 13, 2007

Brown, thank God, has few writing errors. She has a weakness for passive verbs. She must have had a great 9th-grade English teacher. Her research in a previous article helped us compare this Board's bloated pay to Elia with the modest salaries of other counties. Brown did a better job than the SPT reporter in interviewing a range of people after the April 10th meeting and eliciting information from them.

Faced with teaching an extra period a day, high school teachers are e-mailing officials and drafting petitions. Angry and frustrated, they are challenging authority.

Some are surprised at their own grit.

"I've just never felt this way before," said Carey DiPompo, a 26-year veteran teacher and social studies department head at Alonso High School. She attended an impassioned Hillsborough County School Board meeting Tuesday with dozens of colleagues. "This is the first time in my career I've seen teachers take a stand."

They're directing their anger at the school board, but members said the decision was Superintendent MaryEllen Elia's to make, and they won't try to reverse her decision this year.

Teaching six instead of five classes a day is just the flashpoint, teachers and officials agree. The issues:

•Increased requirements and pressure from both federal No Child Left Behind law and state laws, including required remedial classes for struggling students. That makes a seven-period day for all students to maintain elective courses.

•Both honors and struggling students require more personal time, as do responding to parent e-mail and completing paperwork for accountability.

•The class-size amendment, which is supposed to make things better with fewer students in classes, is resulting in an extra class each day and job changes for many.

•Flat enrollments and an expected drop in state revenue sent districts scrambling to reduce costs.

Now would be a propitious time to get rid of the featherbedding administrators that clog ROSSAC and have nothing to do but throw spitballs into their garbage cans. State auditors found that Lennard (Earl the Pearl) surrounded himself with deadwood administrators, but he eschewed their advice to get rid of them for a year. I know because I asked him. Shallow-minded types like Earl the Pearl like to have a bunch of court jesters surrounding them to augment their sense of importance.

The protest started building in mid-February when teachers showed up en masse at a school board meeting. Tuesday night, a dozen speakers were joined by a chorus of hecklers.

I heard Chair Le Lamb say 20 were to speak: 17 teachers, 2 students, and I, bringing up the rear.

"I actually asked one woman heckler behind me to stop - you are hurting the movement here," Michael Schutz, the math department chairman at Plant City High, who addressed the board, said Thursday.

Heckling does not approach Elia's mistreatment of the teachers with the Board's silent collusion. Where is it written that teachers are honor bound to be Goody Twoshoes?

A national board hyphenated adjective certified teacher, Schutz asked the bigger question behind the unrest: "Where does the sacrifice of the teacher end?"

To add fuel, teachers and some school board members are smarting over being excluded from a process that brought major change to scheduling.

This exclusion should enrage them. It shows how little respect Elia and the Board have for teachers.

April Griffin, the school district's newest board member, said Wednesday that she heard about the change in student and teacher scheduling from her son when he told her his school was not going to be on a block schedule next year. That schedule uses longer classes on some days to fit yearlong courses into one semester.

Why did Griffin's son have to tell her about this radical poli cy? Does Elia have so little respect for the Board that she feels she doesn't need to inform it of such things?

As of August, block schedules The administration will eliminate...will be eliminated in nearly all high schools. They are being replaced by traditional seven-period days. Traditional seven-period days will replace them.

"This is an administrative decision," Griffin said, "but something this big needs to have consensus from the board."

Then what did Griffin do besides nattering post facto? She needs not only to complain but to act in time. Where is the record of her acting early when her son had to tell her about the change? This Board member disappoints.

Board member Susan Valdes said Thursday that she heard about the change when she started getting e-mail from parents, and member Jennifer Faliero said she found out when people approached her.

Are Valdez and Faliero paralyzed so that they could not get into Elia's office and tell her to hold on a minute?

Shouldn't these revelations have been imperatives for them to call Elia on this sneak change? Why is this Board so flaccid in performance? If its members were any less active, they would be motionless. They content themselves with being ceremonial Ken and Barbie dolls, handwringing to the press after the fact and posturing about the burdens of office.

This flaccid caving in to the administration and handwringing afterwards is how Board members get their feckless image. They heard disaster through unorthodox channels but wring their hands as if they were bystanders instead of major players. What ails them that they have not enough of chutzpah to call Elia out and make her accountable for this exclusion of not only the teachers but also the Board? We need some Board members with guts and an acceptance of the power of their jobs. I can't stand these weenies' mouthing post mortems with sadder-but-wiser poses for press consumption. They make me want to puke--the teachers, not the press, although sometimes the press makes me want to puke.

Longtime board members Candy Olson and Carol Kurdell said they were told early on by Elia. ...said Elia told them.

How come? Are they Elia's girlfriends informed at a sleepover pillow talk session? Why didn't they say she should call a meeting and tell the whole Board and the teachers of this decision? Why didn't they advise a press conference? This Elia confidence to Olson and Kurdell sounds like to me the old technique of favoritism that divides and conquers. Candy and and Carol fell for it. Smart people wouldn't have. These are dependable roundheels for administration ploys. I want some IQ forensics on these two and their transcripts from Psychology 101.

"MaryEllen told me, but I don't think she told a lot of people about the implications," Olson said. "I think I just figured it out."

This self-congratulatory maundering does not say much for Olson's sense of mission. Why in the hell didn't she figure out that all Board members and teachers must have the information pronto? And if she "just figured ... out" what the disastrous implications were, why did she sit inert and not share these inferences with other Board members and teachers affected? I worry that this specimen won't call 911 if her house catches on fire.

Board members agree the decision was the superintendent's to make.

The seven elected board members are Elia's bosses. They should not hesitate to let her know if she screws the teachers she will be out of a job.

"Policy" has epistemological scope for Board members with brains above the Stanford-Binet half mark. "Policy" has wide enough definition to allow the Board to oversee and shape how Elia carries out policy. If she conduct ed implementing this policy in the bull-in-a-china-shop way she that is her wont, she racks up another disaster to add to the overbuilt classrooms, the subsequent boundary brouhaha, the bad-statistics-for-the-country mess-up, and the criminal enterprise she oversaw when she as head of the Building Department, the Board should call her on her competence and truthfulness. It should, in fact, give her the boot.

Teachers said they felt slighted when they learned that the decision was made without their input.

"Teachers today really expect to be a great part of the process," board member Doretha Edgecomb said. "We talk a lot about collaboration and learning communities and shared leadership. We're really promoting that. Teachers have come to believe they should have a greater voice in the process."

This volt-face-inclusion-for-press-consumption of teachers' role does not coincide with Edgecomb's preaching to them about their "incivility" at the Board meeting. Ethridge talks out of both sides of her mouth. Diatribes against teacher behavior on the dais, ersatz statements of teacher inclusion to the press. How dumb does La Edgecomb think teachers are?

On Thursday, Elia admitted communication could have been better but said that more than 100 meetings have been held that the administration had held to explain and address the issue. Despite that, anger and rumors of layoffs persist.

This was her excuse in the boundary-changes dust-up that had parents' foaming at the mouth because of her duplicity. What ails this woman that she can't get information out that outlines policies and asks for input?

I want an independent prosecutor put on this claim of a hundred meetings. It strains credulity that there were a hundred meetings, yet four Board members learned of the schedule change in bizarre ways. Were these Board members too dumb to pick up on a hundred meetings? Two learned about it girlfriend fashion from Elia but did nothing to pass it to other Board members. The conviction grows upon me that public and teachers need an independent-prosecutor report on this claim. Let Dr. Hamilton subcontract one. He subcontracts everything else he is supposed to do right down to sharpening his pencil.

"No one in the school district is going to lose their job," Elia said.

Many in the system wish she would lose hers. Never to believe a word she says ranks imperative for survival.

One issue that has received little attention is equity, Elia said. Elementary and middle school teachers already teach 300 minutes a day.

And how is it that our Jesuitical thinker did not discover this disparity until she needed to solve a budget problem at the last minute because she did not plan for it ? Did she discuss the "equity" issue in past union negotiation processes? Or does Elia evoke this issue now because it presents a convenient peg on which to hang her clumsy handling of this issue?

"It was part of the larger context when this decision was made," Elia said.

Larger context, my foot. It was an ad hoc, off-the-cuff decision flung at the Board to see if it would stick, Elia's usual method. "I don't know how you can say one type of teaching position is easier than another."

Aw, c'mon. Now The Great Ponderer gets philosophical but can't come out with a crisp opinion. I witnessed that this woman did not have a bit of trouble calling up Lucco Brazzi Linda Kipley with dispatch the minute she walked into her office for the first time and telling her to manufacture an email-violation charge against Bart Birdsall to try out her new power wings with a sadistic faux charge against a lowly media specialist to impress her friends at the county who wanted him punished for complaining about the library kick-out of gays. Never in her life has Elia considered the larger context of anything. She lacks the intellectual fire power for strategic thinking. Her thinking is parochial small-bore.

Many of the teachers complaining are high school teachers who now receive extra pay for teaching an extra class, Elia said. Nearly 15 percent of the more than 4,300 high school teachers get that extra pay, she said.

Just as long as Elia continues to rape taxpayers with Board collusion with her bloated salary, perquisites, and rip-off bonus from teachers' raising students' scores, she can be clinical about any discussion of teachers' exploitation. Nobody is goring her ox.

Teachers scoff at that reasoning.

Brian Petkash, an English teacher at Leto High School, said he couldn't teach another class if he wanted to. "I work amazingly hard at the job. I love my job. I coach tennis after school and sponsor the literary magazine."

An extra class means 60 additional writing papers a week to grade, he said. "For me, I feel right on the edge of burnout."

Teachers said they have been inspired by others stepping forward, but few said they had much hope.

"I'm not hopeful, but I also feel it's our duty to let them know how we feel," said Sarah Robinson, an English teacher at Jefferson High School and an 18-year veteran teacher.

It's a mistake to roll over and be a good soldier. Where would the country be if the patriots rolled over for King George? You don't hear Elia giving up any of her undeserved bloated salary. You don't hear her eschewing stealing the bonus that teachers' work achieved. All sacrifices lie on the teachers' side. Teachers must stop their good-soldier martyr fetish and fight back.

For this year, the issue is over, board members said.

Teachers should not let weasely Board collaborators to get away with this cave-in. They should demand to know what the Board did before the Elia decision to prevent this catastrophe. Both Elia and they knew it was coming for a long time. The pod must have talked about it when its members weren't pondering the color of the icing for the cupcakes at the next ROSSAC tea party. Teachers should pledge to campaign against their re-election if the Board can't do a better job of protecting faculty rights than this catastrophe demonstrates. What good to teachers and the whole school family is this bunch of Board airheads who yield every decision to Elia and then call teachers uncivilized when they complain about their rip-off?

"I think it's done," Olson said "You need a motion, a second and a total of our votes."

This is clinical summation of teachers' misery. Olson is resigned to teachers' misfortune. Nobody's taking away a penny of her higher-than-beginning-teachers' salary, so she doesn't give a flip . Teachers should become Greek Erinies to La Olson and dog the daylights out of her for abandoning them to Elia's depredation. They should follow her to the gym and to the Athena Society, which Nancy Ford started to ratify the ERA but has devolved into a ladies-who-lunch gaggle.

The union has started negotiating with district officials for the next three-year contract that will start with the 2007-08 school year.

Yvonne Lyons, executive director of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association, said Thursday that teaching six of seven class periods likely is a reality for the next school year because teachers now are being scheduled.

This in-bed-with-the-administration union is a bust for teachers. They extort teacher money from meager salaries but have refused to post theirs on the CTA information-lite Web site. Teachers should get new people as CTA functionaries or get a new union. Two Pinellas CTA officers told me at Suncoast Tiger Bay that its officers had counseled Hillsborough CTA but that it hadn't had any effect. Where was the union when it should have alerted teachers to the coming debacle? Cozying up to the administration is my guess and taking Elia's cleaning to the cleaners when not walking her dog.

"We have teachers' attention in the political process, which is really not a bad thing," Lyons said. Union representatives can direct teachers to an online survey about the issue, she said.

"Really not a bad thing?" How much more tepid can an administration nates-kissing union suck-up get in her grudging admission of her clients to take on the task of defending themselves against the administration, the Board, and the union trifecta?

Something may have changed already with the backlash from teachers, however.

Board member Faliero said she supports Elia's decision but was "invigorated" by Tuesday's response.

"Invigorated," is she? The change of Faliera's tune is, I infer, a result of her seeing her incumbency threatened by the farm guy and his people and maybe even mild-mannered teachers. That fear is what invigorates her. She is quite late in her "invigoration" because of hearing from teachers. They would have been happy to see her visit high schools for chats in the past. But she repined in the cotton wadding of the ROSSAC pod.

In fact, teachers should expect to see all Board members at their schools . When teachers organize a response team, they can invite Board members for heart-to-hearts at their schools. They can serve cupcakes in the Board member's favorite color and just whip their questions on them.

One psychological problem is that teachers are too modest to acknowledge their power. Fact: Teachers' credibility with the public is sky high. I have had the mothers of law-school--graduate children approach me in Publix to tell me how grateful they are that their offspring left my class a literate man or woman. Teachers should tap into this public respect to deal with the enemies of teachers--Board and administration--in the ROSSAC bunker.

"People are finally reacting," Faliero said. "They are actually standing for something. It's about time."

Anybody who believes Faliera sincere in this asseveration is probably still doing homage to the Tooth Fairy.

The threat to her defeat at election time has jolted La Faliera into this revolution in her thinking. The prettiest Board member may also be the sneakiest and the most self-serving, although Allah and the Corn Spirit know she's got competition for that title from Board colleagues.

THE 300-MINUTE ISSUE

Hillsborough County high school teachers are protesting a change from teaching from 260 and 270 minutes a day in up to five classes to teaching six classes a day for more than 300 minutes. They say teaching quality and students will suffer because of reduced time to prepare for an extra class, grade papers and counsel students.

Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia said she made the change to reduce the number of new teachers needed, saving $28 million for teacher salary increases. Otherwise, the district would be forced to hire weaker or unqualified teachers to meet requirements of the state class-size amendment, she said.

Reporter Marilyn Brown can be reached at mbrown@tampatrib.com or (813) 259-8069.

lee







3 comments:

deepcover said...

Looks like we're hitting the streets.

twinkobie said...

Deepcover: Do you mean demonstrating? Be still, my heart. Wouldn't that be grand? lee

Goader said...

Steve Kemp, a Sickles High teacher of students with disabilities, is among those affected. When his department lost a teaching position, he was offered a chance to teach in an area that didn't interest him.

He said he wasn't told about the pool immediately. (Another administration failure to communicate) While that alternative provides some comfort, he remains upset about how the situation was handled.

"There's just a lot of frustration and tension," said Kemp, in his fourth year teaching as a second career. (This human vignette is good, Ms. Reporter Person. But what was his first career? Readers are dying to know.)

Thank you for the interest in my journey on our little planet. I must leave you in suspense a bit longer as to my first career while I comment further on my frustration (no peeking, read this first). I relocated within walking distance of Sickles so I would be a part of the greater neighborhood. I live here, shop in the area, and can be on campus quicker than a student can think of an excuse not to have his cell phone confiscated when caught using it in class. I am now part of the community. I'm a neighbor of Sickles High School. I had planned to stay at Sickles and enjoy a long productive career.

I have always taught students with learning disabilities. Next year, I was told to teach a self-contained Emotionally Handicapped and Severely Emotionally Disturbed class of students. That is not my area of expertise. Other teachers have experience in teaching students with these disabilities and have a repertoire of strategies for that purpose. No one asked me if I wanted the position, though my colleagues were well aware I did not, it was simply thrust on me.

Further, no one told this newer teacher in his second career that another option existed—the pool. Now, that does not ameliorate the fact that I up and moved over this way and am now firmly planted here. At least, I would not have worried so much over the long four-day weekend about my future in teaching. I would have known that I had an option, one that protects my employment—just don't know where that will be.

I suppose my situation was further exacerbated by the 6/7 teaching period, which was thrust upon all high school teachers. (What's the deal, am I learning that public schools like to throw situations at unsuspecting teachers just to see how they are handled?) Nothing in my four years of teaching ESE students, so far, lead me to believe that administrators would force me to teach student with disabilities of which I am not interested. I began my second career teaching SLD students, I have taught SLD students since then, and I am teaching SLD students now. Next year however, my options are to teach EH and SED students or leave. They obviously do not care what I want since no one asked me what my preferences were, nor did they consider my career interests to this point.

The suspense is over and you asked for it. My first career was in the wholesale business of selling steel. Actually, is was a bit more interesting since the products included stainless steel, free machining steels, alloy steel, aluminum, copper and brass, nickel, corrosive resistant metals of various types, and other exotic alloys used mostly in the space and aeronautical industries. Your curiosity is finally quenched. Speaking of quenched, I also sold quenched and tempered steel.