Friday, April 13, 2007

Teachers Mount Barricades in ROSSAC Arrondisement

Teacher opposition turnout to La Elia’s attempt to screw teachers by dumping her class-size budget problem on these usual goats of the system ran into a giant snag on Tuesday 10. The comma-challenged superintendent thought she could get away with this sneak coup because teachers have been quiescent in previous assaults on their dignity.

Elia counted on keeping teachers cowed by her under-the-radar-but-well-known administrative fascist retaliation against any teacher who murmured a whiff of protest to administration bullying. The apparatus of this bullying runs through Lucco Brazzi Kipley’s Professional Standards Abu Ghraib.

Fed up and defiant of administration bullying routine, teachers filled the ROSSAC Board meeting to overflow. Eighteen teachers and two students spoke their defiance at the podium, where flashing lights let you know the Board doesn’t want to hear from teachers or anybody but the incestuous ROSSAC pod members.

A disturbing scene of Board indifference showed itself when a woman who claimed she has not been paid received no attention. She was poised and well spoken and said she had been suspended for retaliation because she reported unsanitary conditions and roaches in the cafeteria where she worked. The school board members looked down as if they were clipping thier fingernails or toenails. They could not be bothered with someone they have refused to pay. Maybe they didn't pay attention to this suspended-without-pay employed because they have t o o many thoughts in their head about how to give Elia more of the teachers' money.

Elia lacks instinct for leadership. A leader knows that, when a funding decision such as the class-size amendment emerges, wisdom dictates that you draw the affected people into the circle of knowledge and let them produce the solution.

The Board should know this fact too, but intellectual fire power is in as short a supply on the Board as it is in the administration.

There was one glimmer of hope. Relatively new Board member Valdez is prolix, but she understands that fact as she demonstrated in her remarks. I have hope of Valdez’s finally coming into her own and becoming resistant to the administrations stale tricks. The Board badly needs a person to take charge and provide fearless leadership in opposition to the administration’s customary trickery instead of leadership.

For a while, I thought that Olson or Edgecombe would step up to the plate. I infer Olson knows the right thing to do and is smart enough to know a hawk from a handsaw, but her courage quotient is not up to the job of leading I have come to believe.

Ms. Edgecombe’s grade-school principal’s mindset has cemented her into the parochial level of business as usual. Beginning with her signature phrase of, “We have interiorized your comments (What in the world does that mean?),” she said this Board should receive applause for making possible teachers’ feeling free to come to the Board and express their opinions without fear of reprisal.

Edgecomb has a tin ear and a blind eye. Those teachers were scared to death. It wasn't freedom that motivated them to speak out, rather it was sheer frustration and anguish.

Where has Ms. Edgecombe been in her Board tenure? La La Land must have been her locus if she does not know about the administration Gestapo shut-them-up tactics against anybody who dares speak up against administration skullduggery.

And as the only black board member, why isn't Ms. Edgecomb speaking up about minority children more often? Susan Valdes brought up the issue of how schools in certain areas face inequities. Why isn't Edgecomb chiming in and adding her voice? She was more interested in delivering her prissy canned sermon on her false accusation that teachers were "uncivil" and called the Board names.

I conclude that Edgecombe is sunk into invincible ignorance about the reality of what’s going on in the education enterprise in which she is supposed to represent students and taxpayers. She gives Romper Room spiels of educanto rhetoric and then votes with the administration’s malignant plans.

On Tuesday night, Ms. Edgecombe produced a peroration that ended with a moth-eaten lecture on civility. She waxed fulsome about how people could disagree with each other but had to be “nice.” She accused the teachers who appeared at the mike of calling the Board names, of exhibiting behavior that they would not tolerate in their classes.

Let's get this straight. Citizens in a democracy don't have to be nice! These politicians want their cake and eat it too. They want to ascend the throne and take no heat, so they throw up these "civility" policies to shut up citizens' First Amendment rights to scald politicians with withering criticism if they see fit to do so. They have not ascended to the purple; they are public servants. They should reacquaint themselves with the Constitution.

The rumor in the back of the room, where I stood because no seat was open, was that Edgecombe sleeps in meetings. She must have dreamed up name-calling by teachers during one of her Board naps because it did not appear during wake-up time.

I spoke last, and I did not call any names, although I have that skill down cold. I can call names such as the adepts concoct during Prime Minister’s Question Time. The British parliamentary name callers have a tradition of laying each other out in the King’s English. Theirs is an art of invective.

Following these geniuses of polished name-calling, for example, I label Mr. Paul Tash, publisher of the St. Petersburg Times, in my missives to him about masthead sexism and news bias, a “cachectic ectomorph.” I bet that coinage would get me past the gatekeeper to the English House of Parliament.

And speaking of Parliament, the time may have come for the first impeachment call to fall on the shoulders of the hallucinating Ms. Ethridge for sleeping on public time. Taxpayer won’t stand for somnolent Board members who roust themselves into wakefulness only to fulminate against imaginary teacher name-calling at the mike. The public loves teachers. It doesn’t want them vilified by administrators or superintendents, neither of whom it loves.

Dr. Lamb’s behavior was uncharacteristically civil. The old darling didn’t sneer at me and curl his lip as is his wont when I was at the mike. The only time he faltered was to threaten teachers with unnamed punishment for their “uncivil” clapping. He thinks clapping is “uncivil”? Such outbursts entitle one to wonder if all his synapses are running on the right track or whether Dr. Lovetonsils Lamb has resorted to pot in medicinal doses to get through the trauma of a Board meeting.

Teachers kept on clapping and added catcalls. Dr. Lamb subsided.

This Board is as bad as boards have historically been in Hillsborough County, which is pretty bad.

When my children went to school at Grady, Coleman, and Plant, Cile Essrig, Board member since the Paleolithic Period, was my neighbor. The only good thing Cile did was loan me dishes for political parties. I could never get her to do a thing enlightened or courageous on the Board. She'd call me up and say, "I need your advice" and then ignore it.

Cile was besotted with that then-superintendent old dork Sheldon. She also slept in meetings and whipped off her glasses when the camera focused on her. Although some of the homeliest specimens in the x-chromosome genus have sat on the Board, their not having the face that sank a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium has not prevent their suffering from chronic vanity.

I put Cile's superintendent besotment in a column when I wrote for La Gaceta, and she had relatives phone Patrick Manteiga, the publisher, to say she was hurt--hurt by the revelation.

Sheldon, if you are not old enough to recall, wanted to show how cutting-edge he was by having all the students wear uniforms, not by offering Greek, Latin, and a variety of modern languages in the curriculum.

Two terrific boys who got up to defend their teachers show that Greek would be consumed by such brilliant students. Smart kids get left out of consideration in curriculums devoted to average students. One was a lanky National Merit scholar, the other rumpled Saturday-night-live cut-up who reminds me of my bright red-haired grandson, Christophe. Young people like those two boys give me hope. I wish they both would go to the University of Chicago, where all the quirky, smart-as-hell students go. USF still can’t get a Phi Beta Kappa chapter because of its mediocrity.

Apparently, the choice Elia made to solve her budget problem was on the list that Board attorney Gonzalez cited from the law: it was the last item (see legal citations below).

La Elia hasn't got a lick of sense when it comes to drawing teachers into solving the problem. Ms. Elia’s administrative decisions, which she throws against the Board wall to see if they will stick, represent an exercise in disaster that the Board has to clean up, face the music of resistance from the public, and, in the current situation, face the rebellion of teachers.

Had La Elia the leadership sense to have formed a broad teacher committee, given it the legislative parameters, and charged its members devise a solution, she could have evaded this straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back disaster. One got a sense of what a good job those sharp, articulate teachers who spoke on the 10th against Elia’s insult would do on such an assignment from their sterling performances at the mike defending their profession.

Given a major role in the solution, teachers would have researched it to a faretheewell, brought their collective intelligence to bear, and delivered a product that represented balance and rigorous thinking.

The problem is that Ms. Elia’s characteristic trickiness would have booby-trapped this gesture because she would have combed the schools for the few and pitiful teacher sycophants to staff the committee and return to her own disastrous solution as the recommendation. The dilemma with having a superintendent dependent on trickery, not ability, to supervise, is that you will always get double-dealing from her. She lacks the confidence and the brains to supervise.

The paradigm of Elia's supervision is that Mike Freincle was on the committee concerning GSAs and permission forms. When the committee did not go Elia's way, she formed a new one and ignored the previous committee and did not let Mike join the new one.

Ms. Elia will not change. She lacks the wisdom to do so.

The superintendent doesn’t earn her bloated $262,000 plus perquisites plus $48,000 teacher rip-off bonus for the work with students that went on in the classroom, not at ROSSAC.

Yet the Board keeps extending Ms. Elia’s contract and upping her salary and bonuses. They should stop throwing tax money at the problem. So far, the Board lacks the nerve and perspicacity to admit it made a mistake in hiring Elia and now firing her because she’s not up to the job.

The Board has downloaded enough tax money on this mediocre woman so that she can knock down one of the old cottages in Beach Park and build herself a lot-line-to-lot-line McMansion. She can then put on airs of being to-the-manor-born for the rest of her life with her bloated pension and golden parachute.

The inability of the Board’s bringing itself to firing this disastrous choice for superintendent may find a forensics-file solution. In the back of the room, in which school-system gossip flourished, one story that tickled me was that Ms. Elia and Dr. Frankenstein Otero competed for the superintendent job. When La Elia triumphed, Otero insinuated himself into the post of her Best Boy. And she had no better sense than to accept him dangerously near the throne. Maybe the superintendent should get herself a food taster.

One teacher told me that, as bad as Elia was, most teachers preferred her to the malignant Dr. Otero. I must scrutinize Dr. Otero more closely. Villains—especially parochial ones—comprise a special interest of mine. I wish Le Otero were more sinister looking. He looks as innocuous as the vegetable-department manager in Publix.

This administration of overpaid quidnuncs is not capable of rigorous thinking or of writing a clear, literate summary of their thoughts. Review the essay email for which Dr. Jim Hamilton, of Margarittaville provenance, had a year to research and construct on advising new Board members of their duties. Le Hamilton’s lucubration ranks illogical in construction, goofy in logic, and illiterate passim.

Ms. Elia created a job for Dr. Hamilton for $132,000 a year that he got before it even went on the books. The Board did not insist on its advertising to fulfill its “We are an equal-opportunity employer.” Not one member objected to this featherbedding job for Hamilton. He now has a new perch from which to administer via subcontracting. Dr. Hamilton is not capable of literate, targeted thought as he written products testify (see ) . The wonder is that such a specimen of sustained incompetence and uselessness continues administration apparatchik, drawing a big tax-paid salary and signing off on work orders to subcontractors to do his job.

The forlorn truth is that a tribe of administrative dummies pack ROSSAC due to incestuous hiring practices that recruit buddies and sycophants to $100,000-plus posts without the background or the sophistication to hold the jobs.

Linda Kipley makes $120,000 a year to torture teachers with a home-ec degree. Connie Mileto makes $120,000 a year with kindergarten background. Her magic credential was being protégé of Dr. Don Juan Hamilton—Don Juan until age descended upon him and Viagra IVs were in the offing, probably subsidized from the ROSSAC erectile-dysfunction literary fund.

The quality of the administration represents a case of the D students’ taking over the building with the Board’s collusion. The Board itself will not smash into the upper reaches of the Stanford Binet, one infers from watching their road show. The school system suffers the malignant results of disastrous leadership by administrative doofuses unchecked by a brain-impaired Board. George Bush’s suicidal leadership shows us too late that on the whole it is better to have smart people in charge.

If the Board had a lick of sense and leadership instinct, it would have preempted Elia’s bull-in-a-china-shop solution that she hoped to get past it in a stealth blitzkrieg.

I was proud of teachers last night. I am proud and honored to be one of the breed. They spoke authoritatively and intelligently. But one is not sure whether this Board had enough judgment to understand that fact.

When I took the final spot, I cited Henry Adams’s memorable quote “A teacher affects eternity.” Henry Adams was a terrible husband, by the way: cold and distant to his wife. She committed suicide in some awful way, ingesting acid as I recall. Damned if I'd let a man drive me to swallowing acid even if he could think up deathless quotes.

The blinking podium lights prevented my citing the three teachers who made real this Adams quote for me: two were grammar school, one high school.

Ms. McPherson was my first-grade teacher. She was stickler for correct pronunciation. If a student said a word incorrectly, she turned up the offender’s little hand and smacked it with a ruler. This child abuse was effective pedagogy for me.

I pronounced “desk” as “deske,” with the “e” as a pronounced final syllable. The root of my obsolete pronunciation was that my cavalier ancestors fled England when the Roundheads overthrew Charles I and executed him for his stubborn insistence on the Divine Right of Kings, which has evolved in Hillsborough County to the Divine Right of superintendents who can’t put commas in the right place or write a memo at junior-high level festooned with punctuation and grammar errors.

These ancestors brought with them to the coastal regions of the South much trailing Middle English language and pronunciation. Chaucer’s English has the “e” on words that later dropped it as modern English triumphed. But people in my little hometown of White Oak, Georgia, retained the Middle English punctuation because of the area’s insularity. My father said “Chainey-berry” tree until he died instead of “Chinaberry tree.” I used Chaucer’s “deske” in Ms. McPherson’s class.

My New York Chaucer-classes peers used to say, “How in the world can you pronounce this stuff?” My answer: “That’s how people talk where I came from.”

To avoid Ms. McPherson’s ruler, I vowed to become an expert in language. I have.

Teachers, along with our parents, program our DOS disk, line up our synapses, furnish our minds with dreams, possibilities, and far horizons. Teachers, along with parents, shape their students’ destinies.

Ms. Roberts, my second-and fourth grade teacher, was a homely, lovely woman with big freckles and infinite patience. She had a retarded daughter, Susie, whom the Board allowed to sit at a desk in the back of her mother’s class.

We observed Ms. Roberts’s treatment of Susie and imitated it. We picked up Susie’s dropped crayons, praised her coloring-book art, and shared our M % M’s with her. Susie slobbered, so we handed her Kleenexes and told her to wipe her mouth.

Susie taught us to accept people who were different and to be kind to them.

Retarded children don’t live long. Think of the absence of mongoloid features in the adult population. Susie was my patient in my first job at the old St. Joseph’s on the edge of Ybor City. I attended her funeral in the Garden of Memories Cemetery.

My high school history teacher, Mr. Severs impacted my life. He gave only essay questions. If he asked one I didn’t know, I substituted a satire on the historical figure in question—how, for example, Voltaire was vain about his legs. If I made Mr. Seevers laugh, I made an A. I seldom failed. Hence, Mr. Seevers confirmed that I was a natural satirist.

Mr. Seevers wrote my parents, opposing my going to nursing school. He told them that I had a fine mind so should attend a university to do something worthy of it.

I ignored Mr. Seevers, of course. I graduated from nursing school and nursed for a while. But when I was thirty with four children, I walked out of a NYC hospital after the 7-11 shift one night, doffed my nurse’s cap, and said, “Well, that’s it for me. I am sick and tired of seeing people die.”

I checked into Columbia University to get language degrees. Mr. Seevers had planted a seed in my mind that bore fruit.

I said that every person on the podium had teachers that affected their eternity, that every person in the audience had such teachers. Nobody demurred. More than one nodded.

A teacher pamphlet emerges soon form Attorney Gonzalez’s hand on the resource of teachers when they enter the gauntlet of the Professional Standards cell block, most often, one infers, from administration cooked-up charges.

This effort resulted from Bart Birdsall’s experience with a charge against him for misusing the school email for personal purposes. Ms. Elia and Frau Kipley cooperated in devising Bart’s punishment for a made-up offense.

CTA was only marginally helpful to Bart, doing the bare minimum. Its in-bed-with-the-administration honchos, who extract $500 a year from teachers’ meager salaries yet won’t post theirs on the Web, discouraged Birdsall from filing a protest on the false charge. The CTA sat with the administration, not with Bart, at the Tiger Bay meeting at which Elia spoke shortly after becoming superintendent. CTA barely acknowledged Bart was in the room. The CTA is hip deep in sycophancy; its representatives are scared to death of the administration.

Bart is one of those rare personalities who have the ability to slough off fear and bore in on the problem. He is a magnificent, relentless, verbally prolix nag. Hence, the pamphlet with the teacher-protection instructions to help them evade Kipley’s sadistic attention is Birdsall’s doing.

The Elia-Kipley-induced nightmare has put Bart into counseling. His counselor says he has post-traumatic-stress syndrome. But Bart soldiers on, fighting the ROSSAC Minions of Darkness with renewed vigor augmented by his therapist’s advice on coping skills.

Ms. E dgecomb's Board diatribe on the incivility of the teachers who spoke and their imaginary name-calling tapped into Bart’s indignation nag synapses. Here is his email to La Etheridge:

School Board Member Edgecomb,

I listened to your chastisement of teachers near the end of the school board meeting tonight with surprise. I do not remember any teacher calling anybody on the board names.

I do not remember anybody attacking anyone. Yes, there were snickers, etc. There were comments about administrators needing to be cut. I don't feel that is attacking personally, so I was perplexed.

However, I would like to offer an alternate viewpoint. From emails I have received from teachers and from talking to teachers in the lobby, those teachers were scared, but they spoke out tonight because they are SO upset and SO angry.

People are willing to do things they never would dream of doing, when they are at their wit's end. That's what you saw tonight......teachers totally upset, b/c they do not believe the board is going to do anything about their misery.

I find it sad. They snicker and mumble, b/c they do not truly believe you all. Now you all (board members) might be sincere in caring about this issue, but they don't seem to believe it. They believe you will simply go along with whatever Elia wants. That is the impression I get.

I am quite surprised that a veteran school employee/teacher/administrator like you would place blame on the teachers for their behavior tonight. Most people (parents, administrators, other teachers) acknowledge that when a classroom is out of control, the students have lost respect for the teacher and the teacher is often doing something wrong. Tonight you witnessed teachers who have lost respect for MaryEllen Elia and possibly the board for going along with her, or what they perceive the board letting her do as she pleases.

It is true that the contract states 300 minutes. However, the board can vote to give her a formal reprimand for bringing so much heat onto you.

I counter your argument about the teachers' behavior with the fact that Elia has poor management skills and has lost their respect. She has basically "lost control of her classroom" and maybe it could be said about the board as well.

You think those teachers feel they have the freedom to voice their concerns to the school board. I listened to them outside. They were scared to death and wondering if they will get a "needs improvement" on their evaluations now. That was not a feeling of freedom in the room. It was simply teachers angry beyond their wildest dreams. That says a lot. When scared teachers are throwing caution to the wind to come and speak out, that says a lot. Listen to these teachers the way you would listen to a classroom of students yelling about how a classroom is not safe or they don't learn anything.

I wish the school board members would wake up. In my opinion, Elia has done nothing but bring problem after problem to the board's lap. Why she felt the need to pick on a little gay bug who was out trying to make his community a better and safer place for people is beyond me! Why on earth would she have spent the time or energy to do that? That one little incident that has scarred me for life and put me in counseling epitomizes the whole problem with Elia. She acts without thinking things through or consulting people. To me she lacks humanity or decency. That is not good for the school board, it is not good for teachers, and it certainly is not good for the students.

I urge you to reconsider your thoughts on the teacher behavior and maybe even apologize for your comments at the next meeting. The fact that these scared teachers threw caution to the wind and heckled you all says loud and clear, "I am upset, and I feel invisible!" or "I feel like nothing more than a number!" Think back to when you were a child. You did not act up in a classroom managed well. You acted up (if you did at all) in classrooms managed poorly. You acted up in a classroom that you felt did not care about you.

I guarantee that those teachers would not have acted out, if they felt the district was being managed well or cared about them. Instead of looking outward and blaming the teachers, maybe you should look instead at the inner workings of the school district and question, "Why do these teachers feel so frustrated? Why all this anger? Why do they feel their job is so stressful that they can't possibly work another period?"

I learned a lesson from a student this year. She snapped at me, when I simply asked her what was wrong with her scalp thinking I was showing concern. I was mad she snapped at me and showed disrespect, and I vowed to call her mother and talk to her teacher as she left the library. I looked into the matter and found out the poor girl has some bacterial infection that causes her hair to fall out, and she is EXTREMELY embarrassed about it.

Even though there were only two children way in the back of the library when I asked her the question, she felt like the entire would witness my question. Her mother also told me how the kids called her "boy" or lesbian and laughed about her hair. I started out wanting to chastise the girl, and I ended up tearing up the referral and talking to her about being bullied and how it never ends. I am called names even as an adult. She and I ended up caring about and respecting each other. She transferred, but she would come into the library, before she transferred, just looking for me, b/c she knew I understood being called names. She would come in just to say, "Hi!" When you look deeper into a person's situation, you understand them more.

I have experienced a sister's death, my only sister, a doctor molesting me, a previous emotionally abusive relationship, and what I believe to be a ridiculous investigation by the school district on me. At 40 I am sick of nonsense. So I probably act out a little. On the surface you might see someone willing to be a thorn in someone's side. Underneath it all, I am a human being who has gone through a lot in life and has watched his parents become recluses due to his sister's death. And I can't do a thing about it.

You spoke a lot about what you were ashamed of in teachers.

I am ashamed that the head of Professional Standards lied to my face during an investigation. I do not say, "May have lied...." or "I think she lied." I point blank say, "She lied!" I am ashamed that the school board members have done nothing about this, not even a chastisement of her. I am ashamed that the school board is basically saying to me, "I don't care about you! I don't care enough to help you out! We don't care that you are going to a counselor about it! We don't care that you are hurt! We don't care about you period, Bart!"

That is what I am ashamed about.

I spent today with a Young Adult author Chris Crutcher. He has 12 books out, and two of them were taken off the infamous display at Westgate Regional Library in summer 2005. In his talk at USF today he spoke at length about decency.

He spoke about how people look the other way and allow things to go on because they just feel it is how things are done. His books are challenged because he simply tells stories that are true (child molestation, being gay, etc). He said, "If you censor the story, you censor the kids living those kinds of lives." He renewed my belief in the fact that I feel what I did in summer 2005 was a noble and incredibly beautiful act, and I do not compliment myself normally.

I spoke out knowing there are kids out there suffering, and I did it to make the world a better place. What does Elia do? She takes emails I sent from my AOL email address that Joe Stines gave her and sends them to Professional Standards.

So a noble act is punished. I find that disgusting and sickening. She sought to squelch my voice when I was speaking out for many others who do not feel they can speak out. I find that miserable and disgusting. I don't know how she lives with herself or looks herself in the mirror.

My point.....look deeper......look deeper at the misbehaving teachers. There you will find beautiful souls who are looking to you for help or guidance. It is up to you to either give help/guidance or not, just as it was up to me to write a referral or not on a poor girl who was embarrassed to death about her scalp.


Bart Birdsall
W. Bristol Ave.
Tampa, FL 33609

home (813) 258-8817
cell (813) 362-7937

Teacher comments; for more go to the teacher blog The Wall. I look forward to the day when teachers are not afraid to sign their names to their comments. Those below didn’t ask me to cut names off, but I did until they give me permission to publish them. Signing your full name to what you say is the first act of courage. It is a liberating experience.



I applaud you for your efforts to unite the teachers together to end the abuse brought upon by the powers that be. I think that the presence of teachers in masses will help send a message, and if it does not do so today, there are still several other school board meetings to go to, so that we may continue our plea for respect and a voice. I am concerned that many young talented teachers may decide that if this proposal does pass they may look for employment either in other counties or look for another career. We cannot preach to our students to act when they feel a wrong has been done to them, if we ourselves do not stand up for what we believe is ours. Teachers and students make a school not bureaucrats. Thanks for your dedication to our profession.

This is starting to look like the Walt Disney World era under Michael Eisner. How can we justify that much money going to our "CEO" when teachers are going to be leaving in droves?

Let's not forget who does the grunt work- the
REAL work.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Roger Ceglio, a Corporate Refuge Who Has Taught Th...":

I know Richard personally. I believe he is a great person at heart. I have seen him donate much of his time and money helping students. Recently, he took legal responsability for a student who has no home or parents to care for him. Richard has provided a place for this student to live and taken care of his basic needs. In doing so, this misguided student is now going to college to become a professional chef. When Richard comments he is teaching for the students, he is sincere.

Richard is not financially well-to-do and needs the paycheck as much as the rest of us. I understand what Richard is trying to say. Allow me to explain..
I, like Richard, come from the culinary world. As a chef, I have spent the majority of my career at work and on my feet. When others are enjoying a night out or a holiday, I was working in the trenches of a hot kitchen. As a chef, you get no lunch, no breaks, and little time off. I started my day at 4:00 a.m. I worked non stop until after the lunch rush. If I was fortunate, I had time to change my chef coat and get ready for the dinner shift. I worked through dinner until closing. I would return home around midnight. It was not uncommon to work 75 hours or more a week. This is the life of a chef. Richard has been through the same experiences as I. It is difficult to explain just how difficult the job of Professional Chef is.

I left the culinary field because I have a wife and children I never had time for. I never spent Christmas or Thanksgiving with my family. I was always in the kitchen. When the opportunity to teach culinary came available, I took it. My family needs me to be available to them.However, as much as they need me and I need them, I am wondering if I made a mistake. I certainly believe I am working in the wrong county.

As culinary instructors, Richard and I still spend long hours at work. We still start our day at 4:00 a.m. I get up and go to the 24 hour Wal-Mart to buy food for the day. Culinary programs like Richard's and mine operate a Cafe for the Teachers and Students. We have lesson plans and grades just like the core subjects. We also have the job of running a cafe to do at the same time. When the day is over, we have our academic jobs to attend to as well as the culinary.I have papers to grade, parents to call, e-mails,paper work, and all that is required of a teacher to accomplish AFTER the last bell has rung. I then have a kitchen to clean, inventory to complete, menus to finish, and all that is required to run a culinary program. Quite often, I do not leave work until after dark. I know Richard does the same.
Richard, like myself, may be a new teacher but he is not deserving of the remarks I have read on this site. Perhaps, he could have conveyed his thoughts diferently. Perhaps, more professional.

Teachers, like Chef's are thought of as professional. We all agree the school board members are misguided. Money is the determining factor behind the decisions they make. If we, as professionals, want to see a difference in the school board's decision making, we must maintain professionalism.

I have read the comments on this site and I am concerned. Everyone has the right to their opinion. Why do some people feel it necessary to critique others grammer. What good can come of belittling others. Let your actions speak for you. If you are a great teacher and leader, you do not need to tell everyone just how great you are. Let us talk about solutions to our problems. Speaking ill of others accomplishes nothing. You can not drag others through the mud without getting dirty yourself. Correcting someones grammer is childish. Others can read and, in doing so, make up their own mind about the person who sent the message. I am sure I have made errors in this text. Does it make me less of a person or a bad teacher.

I am sure Richard is thinking the same thing. Richard believes in solutions, as do I. If we expect to be taken seriously by the members of the school board, then we should act serious. How do you think the school board members will view this site. Are we posting benificial comments. I am not perfect. However, I am striving to be the best I can.It is my hope we will strive together to make a change in Hillsborough County. Perhaps, the change should start with us.

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Posted by Anonymous to Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch at
11:34 AM


I stick with my credo that people must be able to read and write to be teachers. I don’t want people who can’t punctuate teaching my grandchildren. I want my grandchildren to learn from qualified teachers to write literate prose with punctuation marks in the right places so that they can go to a good college and get a spiffy degree that ensures a good job.

Richard may be one swell dude, but he badmouthed other teachers in emails to me, saying they couldn’t wait to get out of school at the end of the day while heroic Richard stayed to help students. He made himself look good by trying to make his colleagues look bad. That is not my idea of a first-class person.

Richard said not one negative word about the administration. All his vitriol went to other teachers.

If teaching cooking is as unattractive as you make it sound, then quit. Get another job. I’d scrub toilets before I endured the pain you describe that accompanies your cooking-teacher job.

And quit teaching if you can’t punctuate. If you won’t make the effort to learn to punctuate, then depart education so as not to inflict your illiteracy on my grandchildren.

A teacher unable to punctuate is like a chef unable to boil water.

And, yes, your essay has a passel of basic errors. For God’s sake, learn how to spell “grammar” if you don’t have the discipline to spell check. If you can use email, you can use the spellcheck. Not doing so is sheer laziness.

And stop whining. Pull up your socks and face life. Nobody said it would be a rose garden.

lee drury de cesare


Here’s what I judge to be the matrix of the Classroom-size Law. The Board attorney cited it at the 10th Board meeting as a must-read for those who want to understand the law.

I recommend that a half-dozen teacher group make appointments to meet as a group with the School Board members individually. The Board needs to see teachers as human beings, not as the villains that the administration portrays them.

Teachers should ask Board members (1) for their appointing a teacher committee to come up with funding suggestions for the class-size dilemma and (2) for a scheduled slot for teachers to speak their concerns to Board members with the assurance that the Board attorney would deal with their complaints of harassment that Elia et al cook up.

If a teacher gets harassed for speaking up, keep a diary. I helped many cases of discrimination, especially sexual harassment, when I chaired Tampa NOW’s employment-discrimination committee forty years ago after I founded Tampa NOW. A diary is a winner in documenting your case.

For the party poopers who don’t want on my email round-robin, send me a note telling me which high school is yours. I will try to find your name and delete it.

If pedagogic Greta Garbos want to be alone, they should be alone. If they love the administration’s tyranny, that is their pathology. Let them stew in it.

I do not send multiple copies. I have had reports of such. Use the high technology of the delete button to get rid of extras.

I am not good at clerical stuff. I admire people who are. I am an intellectual, not clerical expert. You can’t expect a green horse to act like a blue one.


At the top is a snap from my life of years-long rebellion against injustice: me and Gloria at a national women’s conference in Houston in 1970 in our doomed fight for the ERA.

This fight we lost but its struggle taught us invaluable savvy in the tactics of opposition to tyranny for future struggles. You cannot beat the on-the-ground experience we gained in those years.

Because of my part in the losing ERA struggle, I am a walking repository of the grammar of rebellion against oppressive authority. lee


deepcover said...

No wonder it took so long for you to post! ;>) Whew, I need time to digest it.

As a nurse consider what NOT being able to use the toilet would mean? Having to "hold off" for 3 or more hours has to be bad.

The teacher planning areas I've been in have only ONE toilet for the 25 plus teachers. Since teachers are expected to monitor the hallways and their classroom during class change, will have lunch and one conference period to "relieve" themselves, isn't this a prescription for a variety of internal infections?

Isn't this an OSHA violation?

BTW The lawsuit threatened by the Farm Bureau rep really got the Board's attention and exposed the Superintendent's sneakiness. Not a peep in the paper.

twinkobie said...

The situation you describe about not having time or facilities to pee is not only unhealthy, it's degrading. Why are you asking me about the OSHA violation? Why don't you find out yourself by filing a charge. I can tell you that filing charges with the Federal government is a liberating experience. I filed with the Justice Department and EEOC to open the police and sheriff's departments to women. I filed upteen dozen local women's EEOC charges after I founded NOW. Then one day I got tired of the phone's constant ringing from people who were petulent about not handling all their discrimination problems as if they were not adults and able to fight their battles themselves with guts and initiative. So I just stopped taking calls for awhile. I was tired of being caretakers of big, gutless, lazy babies. So file with OSHA. Keep us updated. A peeing charge is just the sort of thing that appeals to local reporters' bathroom-humor level of wit. You will get plenty of coverage. Then, when the hubbub dies down, you will get the retaliation that the Board and Elia are lying in wait to administer to you. The response to that from you should be setting up a constant racket against them. If you do that long enough, they will move on. They pick on only people who won't defend themselves.

God bless those stolid, solid farmers. I come from a rural background. We rubes may seem backward, but we have the right stuff when it comes to fighting oppression. Use us a role models.

The only way the papers will pay attention to something is if you educate the reporters who cover that area. You have to keep up a steady stream of emails to them. Otherwise, don't expect a word in the paper. Reporters are not Princes of Taking Care of the Halt, Lame, and Professionally Helpless. They are working chumps like the rest of us.



deepcover said...

"Isn't this an OSHA violation?"

Rhetorical question Lee. It is already in the minds of a few.

Advice taken and incorporated. Thanks.

My name says it all.