Tuesday, January 29, 2008

We’ve Got Mail!


Did you get my email today about how a deep throat spoke to me?

Apparently, Jim Hamilton was in charge of Facilities when he had
Blake High School built. Blake High School is built so poorly that if there is a category 2 hurricane, it will collapse like a house of cards. This was what Doug Erwin thought. Jim Hamilton wanted to "get"Doug Erwin b/c he knew that Erwin knew about this.

Also, the whole Lawson system mess up that resulted in late paychecks for teachers.....well, the person who created Lawson was a friend of a school board member (don't know which one), and the district ended up paying much more for Lawson (to fix it) than if they had used another

At some point Elia was in charge of special education stuff at certain schools, and when she was, some of the schools never saw her face enter the school. She is all about herself and what makes herself look good.

I am working on getting more info for you soon.

From: Anonymous [mailto:noreply-comment@blogger.com]
Monday, January 28, 2008 6:29 PM
To: tdecesar@tampabay.rr.com
Subject: [Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch] New comment on <!-- GoStats JavaScript Based Code --> _gos='mo....

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post " _gos='mo...":

I cannot say that there is any filter on email with the school district. However, there is in fact a block by the district-subscribed filter, Websense for your blog. That would seem to be inappropriate if based only on unpopular speech.

The company is Websense Anyone can learn more about how it works by drilling around on the website. I think what the district is doing is wrong, but what can you do?

Publish this comment.

Reject this comment.

Moderate comments for this blog.

Posted by Anonymous to Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch at
3:29 PM

From: Remember Doug Erwin [mailto:noreply-comment@blogger.com]
Monday, January 28, 2008 5:05 PM
To: tdecesar@tampabay.rr.com
Subject: [Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch] New comment on <!-- GoStats JavaScript Based Code --> _gos='mo....

Remember Doug Erwin has left a new comment on your post " _gos='mo...":

Yes. Blogs are blocked via a 3rd party filter "Websense" under it's catagory of "social networking". "Websense" actually does a good job protecting the youngsters from the seemy-side of the web. Mommies and daddies like it.

Blocking blogs was a School Board Technology Committee decision based on The WALL, Eskay Espresso, Casting Room Couch, and other blogs that served as an information (and sometimes anti-administration) flash point. Since it was their decision and recently initiated I suspect it can also be undone.

There must be minutes of the meeting somewhere.

Ms. Kurdell has added you to her personal "spam filter" since it sounds like she is the only one who sends it back labeled as spam. Apparently you have ticked her off to the extent that she has singled you out.

Take solace in the fact that when the ostrich buries it head its' "arse" is the identifying orifice.

Hope this helps. Gotta stay anonymous. Too long 'til retirement.

The time stamp will drive 'em nuts!

Publish this comment.

Reject this comment.

Moderate comments for this blog.

From: Anonymous [mailto:noreply-comment@blogger.com] e=
Monday, January 28, 2008 11:41 PM
To: tdecesar@tampabay.rr.com
Subject: [Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch] New comment on Susie Creamcheese of The Wall teacher blog has de....

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post " Susie Creamcheese of The Wall teacher blog has de...":

The school board and Elia know exactly how dumb the voters are! These people have been getting away with murder for years! Why stop now? Everyone in the school district considers ROSSAC full of criminals who were pulled out of schools and given administrative jobs as an excuse to get them out of the schools where they were messing up. So now they mess up and do all sorts of ridiculous things at ROSSAC. They will never stop. They have no shame whatsoever. They will continue to rake in taxpayer dollars and get rich off taxpayer dollars and continue their unsavory practices. Since they've gotten away with it for years, why stop now? They weren't voted out yet. They probably won't be. I bet the Faliero affair is nothing compared to what goes on in ROSSAC.

Posted by Anonymous to Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch at
7:44 PM

From: Anonymous [mailto:noreply-comment@blogger.com]
Tuesday, January 29, 2008 10:30 PM
To: tdecesar@tampabay.rr.com
Subject: [Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch] New comment on Susie Creamcheese of The Wall teacher blog has de....

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post " Susie Creamcheese of The Wall teacher blog has de...":

It is horrible how shameless the school district seems to be. There is also a rumor going around that Candy Olson's husband was a lawyer for a malpractice lawsuit years ago. He defended many people who were harmed apparently. At the end of the day they were awarded millions, but they each only saw a couple or a few thousand and Olson's husband ended up with millions and had to lie low in
Miami for a while. I hope this is not true, but it is a rumor going around.

It is sad to think that everyone in power in
Hillsborough County may be totally corrupt.

Publish this comment.

Reject this comment.

Moderate comments for this blog.

Posted by Anonymous to Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch at
7:29 PM

Posted by Remember Doug Erwin to Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch at
2:04 PM

'john.hildebrand@sdhc.k12.fl.us'; 'mark.hutek@hc.k12.fl.us'; 'doretha.edgecomb@sdhc.k12.fl.us'; 'april.griffin@sdhc.k12.fl.us'; 'susan.valdes@sdhc.k12.fl.us'; 'carol.kurdell@sdhc.k12.fl.us'; 'jack.lamb@sdhc.k12.fl.us'; 'tash@sptimes.com'; 'brown@tampatribune.com'; 'stein@sptimes.com'; 'hooper@sptimes.com'; 'tobin@sptimes.com'; 'patrickmanteiga@lagacetanewspaper.com'

Ms. Cobbe: your message is underneath the following comment on Hildebrand's and Hutek's credentials. The comment is meant for the two scholars manqué and the board that rubberstamped Ms. Elia's or Lennard's hiring of them. ldd



None of Hildebrand's degrees come from academically challenging areas. The "Educational Research and Evaluation" folderol is academics-lite piffle.

Mr. Hutek must know that NOVA is a diploma mill. Everybody else in the academic world does. The bureaucratic administrative establishment in the Florida education system has bales of NOVA diplomas and uses them as tribal-shibboleth passports into administrative and bureaucratic school jobs. These bureaucrats' abilities are in inverse ratio to the bloated salaries of their perches that suck the financial blood out of funds that should go to schools.

Superintendent of Pinellas Schools Clayton Wilcox's wife wrote his thesis a school-board member told me. He picked it up on the way out the door of NOVA heading for the superintendent job for which the obtuse Pinellas board hired him. The Pinellas board may be worse than Hillsborough's. I haven't had time to scrutinize it. I believe there are five on it who want creation taught along with evolution as science. So far, only Belle Dame sans Merci Faliero has hinted at that goal on Hillsborough's board. When Ms. Falliero is not pursuing unorthodox romance, she is citing her evangelical religious beliefs and how these impact her decisions on the board. The only thing that these religious tenets do not seem to impact is Ms. Falliero's romantic vagaries.

The Wilcox so-called thesis is marginally literate and wouldn't' pass as valid degree requirement at Saskatchewan Agricultural College and Horse-shoeing Emporium.

A young St. Pete Times reporter, bless the boy, passed that "thesis" on to me. I will never reveal that innocent reporter's identity to his bosses for them to kick him out in the street for fraternization with a reader. He will then have to become a perpetual graduate student in some forlorn university at the end of the civilized world. That's the career arc of kicked-out reporters. The president of NOVA won't answer me about why NOVA approves such marginally literate productions as Wilcox's woeful effort as fulfilling NOVA's ersatz degree requirement. I can understand his silence.

I urge Dr. Hutek to put his thesis on display in the professional-standards office for citizen review and the entertainment of the schools' English teachers.

Such credentials as these tax-paid fellows cite confirm my inference that academic weaklings get gimcrack degrees and head for school administrations, where the money is. Teachers certainly don't get $100,000-plus starting out with degrees in academically shallow areas. Their degrees are in history, physics, chemistry, language, and other intellectually challenging areas of solid academic training. Schools of education have hustled into the university world and from thence have got a franchise on pulling down the money to be had in the administration racket. Those who opened the universities to these academic poseurs get the blame.

Such matriculants in trivia have piled in at the Hillsborough County administrative casting call. A Stanford-Binet assessment would register Hillsborough County's ROSSAC denizens in the lower quartile I wager. That's why these deficient scholars need pricey consultants to tell them how to do their jobs. So taxpayers not only pay the bloated salaries of the administrators but pay also the consultants who come with flashcards to instruct them in how to do the jobs they are supposed to know how to do themselves.

The head of the Hillsborough County schools building department, Cathy Valdez, has an early-childhood degree with a salary of $137,000; the head of the lobbying department, Connie Mileto, pulling down $127,000 and rising, has kindergarten credentials glossed over by the endorsement of her sponsor Dr. Jim Hamilton. During the time of Mileto's acquiring this flossy perch for which she had not a shred of training since "Eency Weency Spider" was not one of its requirements, Hamilton divorced his heartbroken wife one understands. I must ask La Belle Dame sans Merci to explain the dynamics of this situation to me. I understand that it was the talk of ROSSAC for a while.

Ms. Elia hires and fires by tapping into her buddy network. She fires for political reasons, recently firing former public-affairs head Marc Hart for drunkenness. In reality, she fired Hart to protect Jennifer Faliero, chair of the school board, from the gossip surrounding her affair--which she instigated--with Hart. Hart was worth rehabilitating and keeping: he had a degree magna cum laude from Loyola, the best ROSSAC has seen cross its threshold.

Ms. Elia wanted to retain Ms. Faliero on the board because Faliero was a reliable rubberstamp for Ms. Elia's vile projects such as downloading an extra class on teachers without consulting them and dummying down grades of high school students without consulting teachers so that more students could make high grades to make Ms. Elia look good in the education community and with the governor. Then she could get more of those plastic Mickey Mouse awards the board is always oohing and ahing over.

Holding marginal degrees is one reason why nobody in the administration can handle basic punctuation and write with a rhetorical felicity over junior-high level. Just read some of the Romper Room stuff that comes out of these sources. Dr. Hamilton wrote like a parody of the Katzenjammer Kids. He hadn't mastered the difference between "your" and "you're."

All jobs should get advertised to make sure applicants with the best qualifications get hired to serve the students, teachers, and citizens of Hillsborough County. Intelligence and a solid academic background from a decent school make a difference in the quality an employee-advertised-personnel sweep draws on the open market. Buddy hiring has undone the Hillsborough County school system with shoddy credentials and low-caliber people. That racket has to change.

I don't need to ask if you made PBK, gentlemen. One knows you didn't.


Ms. Cobbe:

I understand a technology committee made the decision to interrupt my blog's and two other teacher blogs' access to the schools.

Please tell me the names of the people on that committee and the name of the chair. Was Mr. Davis, the head of technology, he? Tell me also if the committee got the permission of the board to interrupt the flow of free speech into and from a publicly supported institution so that I can pass it on to elected officials who should know of such derogation of free speech in a public institution supported by taxes. I would like to see the order and who signed it that authorized this shut-down of free speech to and from the schools. This request is all public information.

Every valid committee when it makes important decisions such as curtailing the First- Amendment of citizens and personnel records committee notes. The Technology Department must have followed this standard protocol. I would like to have a copy of those notes, please, that order the shutdown of free speech in the public schools. Thank you.


From: Linda Cobbe [mailto:lcobbe@sdhc.us]
Tuesday, January 29, 2008 8:44 AM
To: lee de cesare
Subject: Re: - public information

John Hilderbrand's response to your request below:

Bachelor of Science in Mathematics Education
Florida State University

Masters of Education in Educational
of Miami

Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Research and Evaluation
Ohio State University

The Ohio State University, as well as the Univeristy of Miami and The Florida State University, each have a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

Marilyn Brown, Tampa Tribune, explained the grading scale and why it came about. She did not use the term "dumming down" grades. Also, changing the grading scale on the semester exam does not impact Mrs. Elia's "performance pay". None of the variables used for her performance pay are based on, deal with, or include course grades, course credits, or student grade point average.

Degree information for the other two you requested:

Marc Hutek
B.A. USF Mass Comm/Public Relations
M.A USF Counselor Education
Ed.S. Nova Southeastern Education Leadership

David Steele
B.A. University of Florida, Secondary Education
M.Ed. Harvard, Administration
Ph.D. USF, Ed Leadership
Graduate fellowships at USF 1984-85, 1985-86
Master Teacher 1986

Linda Cobbe
External Communications Manager
Office of Communications
Hillsborough County Public Schools
901 E. Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33602
813-272-4510 FAX

Florida has a very broad public records law. Most written communications (including e-mail) to or from public employees are public records available to anyone who asks. Your e-mail communications and your e-mail address may therefore be subject to public disclosure.

"lee de cesare" <tdecesar@tampabay.rr.com> writes:


School Employees David Steele, Marc Hutek, John Hilderbrand:

Marilyn Brown,
Tampa Tribune, quotes you in the article below as boosters of the new program to dummy down grades in the public schools.

To put your recommendation for grade inflation in context, may I have as public information these data: your terminal degree, in what subject, from what institution, and whether you were a member of Phi Beta Kappa if your institution were prestigious enough to have a chapter?

Could you add as well whether management consulted the teachers at your schools in this radical dilution of grades, or did Ms. Elia order you to just impose it on the teachers without consultation from them? Is, in your opinion, this dummying-down scheme to make Ms. Elia's record look better so that she can extract more "performance" money from the taxpayers than her already bloated salary of $300,000 represents?

Ms. Brown quotes you, Mr. Hutek, as saying this: "It's known," he said. "That's why so many kids are so into exempting their exams." What does this bizarre construction mean in standard English, Principal Hutek? And is this an example of your customary method of expressing yourself?

I will post your responses on
www.leedrurydecesarescasting-roomcouch.blogspot for people's edification about how the school system runs.

Please send the answers to this request for public information to Linda Cobbe
of the public-affairs office so that she can convey them to this citizen.

Thank you.

lee drury de cesare

----- Original Message ----
From: William Birdsall <montolino@aol.com>
To: lee decesare <lee_decesare@yahoo.com>
Wednesday, January 23, 2008 5:44:12 PM
Subject: Exam grades

This is what the woman in Steve Otto's column today was writing about.....



Click Here to Print




Exam Grades Going Higher

By MARILYN BROWN The Tampa Tribune

Published: Jan 12, 2008

TAMPA - Higher grades are in store for Hillsborough County's nearly 50,000 high school students when they are handed their first-semester report cards in a couple of weeks.

After decades of grading semester exams one way, the district has created a new system sure to boost grade-point averages.

It's no longer 90 percent correct for an A, 80 percent for a B, 70 percent for a C and 60 percent for a D.

Just 62 percent correct on the physics semester exam equals an A, for example. The Spanish IV exam still requires 90 percent right for an A, but the district's other hundreds of semester exams are all over the place on the new scale.

"I can guarantee you no student is going to get a worse grade," said David Steele, the Hillsborough County School District's general director for secondary education. "Our goal is to ensure the grade on the semester exam mirrors the class grades for the nine weeks."

That's not grade inflation, say officials, because some teachers have been adjusting semester exam grades anyway when they realized the tests were too difficult. The new scale is based on the classroom grades of all students throughout the district for each subject.

Semester exams make up one-third of a semester grade. Classroom grades, which are not affected by the change, make up two-thirds of the grade. That means an A or B on a semester exam instead of a C is significant. Passing a course with a D boosted by a higher exam score can mean the difference between failing or earning a credit needed to graduate or move up to the next grade.

Students See Difference

Marissa Hutek, a junior at Tampa Bay Technical High School, already sees the difference.

"Last year and the year before, I was so frustrated," she said. "I was an A student. I would get Cs and Ds on the exam. It would bring my whole average down."

Headed to college and a career in medicine, Hutek said, "I wish this would have started last year and the year before; my GPA would have been a lot higher."

Last year, during the holidays, Hutek says some of her friends were called at home and told they failed a class and had to take it over even though they had gone into the semester exam with passing grades.

When Hutek returned to school this year after the holidays, a couple of her teachers gave students their grades, explaining there was a new scale for semester exams.

"Everyone was surprised," Hutek said. "They were really happy."

Most students don't yet know about the change, principals and teachers said. Hutek figures she knows more about the changes because her father is a high school principal.

Marc Hutek, principal at Armwood High, said, "I'm glad that we picked up on the fact that there is a discrepancy" and "I like it for my daughter's sake," but he has had few complaints from teachers or parents about the difficulty of some tests.

"The exam scores will certainly increase," said Hutek, who said he has seen that the difficulty of some tests doesn't match the grades students earn in class.

"It's known," he said. "That's why so many kids are so into exempting their exams."

Hillsborough allows students with few or no absences and at least a C average during the nine-week grading periods to exempt up to four semester exams each semester. Seniors who qualify may exempt all their last semester's exams.

"The brightest kids will tend to exempt their most difficult exams," said Richard Bartels, principal at Freedom High School. "They weigh all their advantages. We all know grades matter when kids are applying to college."

The new grade scale offers consistency, he said. Differences in teacher grading include everything from their own classroom exams, extra credit, projects and papers, he said. And, "you could have 50 teachers teaching one course and 50 different ways to arrive at a final grade."

"What the semester exam does do is provide a common experience for everyone taking that particular course," Bartels said.

Building a quality test is difficult, said Joe Pedulla, associate professor and senior research assistant for the Center for the Study of Testing, Evaluation and Educational Policy at Boston College. "I teach whole semesters on that. "

"You're talking about an impossible task to say 90 percent should always be an A within a subject area," he said. "Assigning of grades is always a subjective process."

Hillsborough's new scale is "unusual - not unheard of," Pedulla said, but then again, so are district-created semester exams. "It's just not where public schools are right now."

"There is no absolute right or wrong," Pedulla said. "The judgment has to be defensible." What Hillsborough is doing is "a defensible approach," he said.

Earning an A with just 62 percent right "has the appearance of being easy," but he said it's a matter of how the test is scored: "You're adjusting the various cut scores for the grading for the difficulty of a test."

Semester Exams Draw Attention

Hillsborough's semester exams - unique for decades - are attracting more attention as the state begins considering statewide end-of-semester exams. They are also useful to help districts gauge teacher effectiveness for its merit pay programs.

The state's annual standardized testing program covers only reading, math, writing and science, and not all those are tested in all grades. Hillsborough was first in the state to have a merit pay plan approved because it could use its semester exams to gauge student performance for other subject area teachers. But teachers are evaluated on actual scores, not on letter grades.

The district is paying $3.1 million during five years for the software was used to scale the semester exams, said John Hilderbrand, Hillsborough's testing and accountability chief. But it is also used byteachers to create their own tests and improve exams.

"I know they're tough tests; we've done the analysis," Hilderbrand said.

Hillsborough is changing the grading of its semester exams at the same time high school teachers have added oneclass period to their day. They now teach six out of seven periods, a move by the district to save money that drew fire from teachers. The district has agreed with the teachers union to evaluate the effect on students and teachers of the heavier workload.

Steele confirmed he has heard from principals that some teachers suspect the timing of the new grading scale was done to ensure student performance would improve.

"We will not compare semester grades," Steele said. "We will be comparing raw scores on tests that are new or have changed."

For now, principals and teachers said they are taking a wait-and-see approach

"Teachers are on board with it; they want consistency, too," said Mark West, principal of Bloomingdale High School in Valrico. "Having a district test is better, it prepares the kids for the kind of college exams they'll have."

"I think it's fair. I think it's right," West said. "So now a kid taking an elective at Bloomingdale and a kid at Jefferson get a consistent, fair shake, just like a kid at Plant or Newsome."

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

1 comment:

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