Saturday, December 06, 2008

Mr. Brooks, See Me in My Office After Class

If anybody finds the posting in which I incorrectly spell "ceiling" "sealing," (#4*11@ spellchecker), alert me so that I can change it. There is nothing more ridiculous than a grammar grinch making such blowsy mistakes. lee

copy to all Hillsborough County board members and upper-level administrators; copy to Mr. Brooks's bosses and fellow opiners of the op-ed page, on which sits one lone woman, Ms. Dowd.

Mr. Brooks: As usual you knock teachers’ unions for problems with education. All that good teachers unions do is fight for fair pay and decent treatment for teachers. What’s wrong with that? Before there were labor unions, we had child labor and hideous abuse of workers by the owners of industry. Then workers formed unions and fought for fair treatment. Now they have it for the most part. This circumstance just kills Republicans like you. You yearn for the return of this feudalism.

I was a career-long member of a teacher's union at the college at which I taught for twenty-eight years. In fact, I served for a time as the union’s president and am proud that I did. We leaders of our college union stood up for the teachers we represented. We fought the administration thugs for teachers' dignity and fair treatment. I am proud that I did that service to the conviction that labor is a product the owners of which deserve fair treatment.

With Obama, whom I supported, you Republicans who hate labor think you have a chance to bust teachers' unions. I don't think so. I think I judge the man whom we elected as president rightly--not to mention his formidable six-foot Valkyrie of a wife, First Lady Michelle.

You must exult that too many teachers’ unions are in bed with corrupt administrations that exploit teachers. Teachers pay these union leaders’ salaries, yet the union leaders kowtow to the bosses. This is the case in the Hillsborough County schools in Tampa, Florida. The CTA serves not the teachers but the administration that mistreats teachers by not even ceding them a place on the board agenda to voice their concerns.

You prattle about revolution to improve schools and cite merit pay as the goal to achieve that end. Merit pay is not revolution; it’s backsliding. Corrupt administrations such as that in Hillsborough County, Florida, would use merit pay as a weapon to reward collaborators with the administration’s anti-teacher, anti-education policies and punish teachers who do not collaborate.

What would be revolutionary is to pay teachers high wages so that the profession would attract intellectually gifted young people. The meager pay presents no lure for intellectually gifted students. Yet what is astonishing is how many smart college graduates still choose to teach despite the salary penury. They love the job despite the meagre pay.

In Hillsborough County the superintendent makes $300,000 a year. The decorative potted-plant board members who rubberstamp her agenda make $41,000 a year. A beginning teacher makes $33,000 a year. The administration sloths, who are the current or the previous superintendent’s buddies and sycophants, make from $130,000 to $140,000 a year. One of these administrative leeches doesn’t know the difference between “who” and “whom.” Smart people teach; dumb people clog the ranks of administration drones.

People caterwaul about how teachers should get higher pay than quarterbacks who say "He don't" in half-time interviews. Then they fund stadiums and turn down school initiatives. But this hypocritical chorus never results in one dime more to the teachers in salaries, which means many teachers must have two jobs to get by. In the last two years the Hillsborough County administrators got a nine percent raise while teachers got a 2 percent raise. Figure out how much a two percent raise is for $31,000 versus a 9 percent raise for $140,000. The people who pulled this scam off are the ones who will decide merit pay.

The reason for this disparity is that the administration gets its cut before the teachers, students, and schools get a dime. The Hillsborough County school system runs on the spoils system paradigm for the administration's sole benefit.

Republican columnists like you beat up on unions—even the good ones—and never mention how featherbedding administrations eat up tax dollars and live royally at the public trough although many of them have to get help from the schools’ Public Affairs people to edit their illiterate messages to the public. The Hillsborough County school system has to call in pricey consultants to flash-card the heads of departments on how to do their jobs. These department heads don't have doctorates or even relevant master's degrees. A recent consultant had to tell the administration how to get out of the mess its stupidity had created in bus transportation. It cost tax payers $350,000 for the Romper Room advice 1. to get scheduling software and 2. park the buses in convenient places. That the Hillsborough County administration couldn't figure that out without paying $350,000 for the color-by-the-numbers advice says something about its members' intelligence.

You have said in the past that the late William F. Buckley influenced your writing during your friendship with him when you were young. It’s too bad he didn’t guide your grammar and punctuation and assist your rhetorical ease. You abuse commas to a faretheewell, evidence that you don’t know the structure of a sentence. You overuse passive verbs. You are wordy. You are a cliche indulger. You are not at ease with normal syntax.

You need one of those tough public-school teachers of the sort that teach in Hillsborough County while enduring the abuse of a thuggish administration and lackadaisical school board. This pedagogical stalwart of literacy would teach you grammar, punctuation, and how to write pellucid prose. Superintendent Elia with board collusion recently forced such teachers to practice grade inflation so that she would be eligible for more bonus money for the pseudo statistics of student success that these fake grades would produce. She slammed teachers’ professional pride with not a murmur from the supine board. Ms. Elia's goal is to augment her salary as high as possible so that at her retirement she will get a pension that equals that of the AIG Republican CEOs when they exit the debacle they created in the financial industry.

I edit today’s essay for you below to show how bad your case is. If you weren't y-chromosome and if the dimwitted dauphin of the New York Times didn't hire right-wing male columnists to show how cool he is instead of more women to give Ms. Dowd company in the paper's male sweat lodge of opiners, you would not be able to get a job in a writing business.

I shall post this homily on Grammargrinch.blogspot and send a copy to Ms. Obama. I supported Obama. You didn't. The sisterhood will figure out a way to get teachers better treatment with the new president. He's an intellectual. He will see around corners. I think the reason why so few Republicans are intellectuals is that their lust for money has acted like the deadly pyridium in the comet bollide that smashed into the earth at the end the Jurassic and killed both the dinosaurs and most of the species thoughout the world.

lee drury de cesare

Who (Whom) Will He Choose?
Pronoun case: “Whom,” object of “will choose”


Published: December 5, 2008

As in many other areas, the biggest education debates are happening : flabby progressive verb: use crisper “happen” within the Democratic Party. On the one hand, there are the reformers like Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee, who support merit pay for good teachers, Wordiness: Revise to “Reformers such as Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee…”charter schools and tough accountability standards. On the other hand, there are the teachers’ unions and the members of the Ed School establishment, who The redundant comma cuts off a restrictive adjectival clause. emphasize greater funding, smaller class sizes and superficial reforms. Wordy; revise: “On the other hand, teachers’ unions and members of the ed-school establishment emphasize…” No rule supports capitalizing “Ed School” just as there is no rule capitalizing biology department."Ed School" drops its capitals and hyphenates as a word acting as a single adjective before a noun.

During the presidential race, Barack Obama straddled the Cut superfluous words, even articles for tighter sentences. two camps. One campaign adviser, John Schnur, represented the reform view in the internal discussions: Wordy: omit. Another, Linda Darling-Hammond, was more likely to represent the establishment view. Their disagreements were collegial (this is Obamaland after all), This comma is redundant: it splits a compound predicate adjective. but substantive.
In public, Obama shifted nimbly from camp to camp while education experts studied his intonations with the intensity of Kremlinologists. Sometimes, he flirted with the union positions. At other times, he practiced dog-whistle politics, sending out reassuring signals that only the reformers could hear.

Each camp was secretly convinced that at the end of the day, Omit this wordy, moss-grown cliche. Obama would come down on their side. The reformers were cheered when Obama praised a Denver performance pay initiative. Wimpy passive verb: Obama’s praising a Denver performance pay initiative cheered the reformers. The unions could take succor from the fact Dump. that though Obama would occasionally wordy redundant adverb talk about merit pay, none of his actual Redundant adjective: dump it. proposals contradicted their positions. You violate Strunk & White with redundant modifiers.

Obama never had to pick a side. That is, until now. Dump. There is only one education secretary, and if you hang around these circles, the air is thick with speculation, anticipation, anxiety, hope and misinformation. Every day, new rumors are circulated Passive circulate and new front-runners declared. It’s kind of Omit this pretentious colloquialism. like being in a The experience is like that of a Trollope novel as Lord So-and-So figures out to whom he’s going to propose.

You can measure the anxiety in the reformist camp by the level of nervous phone chatter each morning. Weeks ago, Obama announced that Darling-Hammond would lead his transition team and You here omit a comma for a compound sentence. reformist cellphones around the country lit up. Darling-Hammond, a professor at Stanford, is a sharp critic of Teach for America and promotes weaker reforms.

Anxieties cooled, but then one morning a few weeks ago, I got a flurry of phone calls from reform leaders nervous that Obama was about to side against them. I interviewed people in the president-elect’s inner circle and determined that reformers had nothing to worry about. Passive verb in a wordy sentence. “People in the president-elect’s inner circle assured me that reformers had nothing to worry about.”Obama had not gone native. This is your second cliche. It’s worse than the first. Come up with a standard-English sentence for the idea that this noxious phrase smothers.

Obama’s aides point to his long record on merit pay, his sympathy for charter schools and his tendency to highlighting his commitment to serious education reform.

But the union lobbying efforts are relentless Another omission of a comma in a compound sentence and in the past week prospects for a reforming education secretary are thought limp-wristed passive verb: Just say “have dimmed.” to have dimmed. The candidates before Obama apparently redundant adverb include Joel Klein, the highly successful New York chancellor who has, nonetheless, been blackballed by the unions; passive verb: "whom the unions have blackballed" Arne Duncan, the reforming Chicago head who is less controversial; Darling-Hammond herself; and some former governor to be named later, with Redundant comma: it cuts off a restrictive adverbial prepositional phrase. Darling-Hammond as the deputy secretary.

In some sense, Wordy: dump. the final option would be the biggest setback for reform. Education is one of those areas where implementation and the details are more important than grand pronouncements. If the deputies and assistants in the secretary’s office are not true reformers, nothing will get done.

The stakes are huge. For the first time in decades, there is real momentum for reform. It’s not only Rhee and Klein — the celebrities — but also superintendents in cities across America who are getting better teachers into the classrooms and producing measurable results. There is an unprecedented political coalition building, Redundant comma cuts off restrictive adverbial prepositional phrase.among liberals as well as conservatives, This comma is redundant: the “for’ prepositional phrase is restrictive.for radical reform.Hillsborough County does not have this kind of superintendent. Her main goal is to bloat her salary so that her pension payout will be huge. She also wants the community to stay ignorant of what's going on under her command when she targets teachers for firing when they speak up about the evils she promulgates; so she builds cases on teachers to fire them if they speak out. Her assistant in this ugly ritual is Ms. Linda Kipley, who has a home ec degree and a talent for sadism.

No Child Left Behind is about to be reauthorized. Awkward passive verb: "Congress will soon reauthorize No Child Left Behind." Everyone has reservations about that law, but it is the glaring spotlight that reveals and pierces the complacency at mediocre schools. If accountability standards are watered down, as the establishment wants, then real reform will fade. Passive verbs are limpwristed. Try this: “If the establishment waters down accountability standards, real reform will fade.”

This will be a tough call for Obama, because No comma: it cuts off a trailing restrictive adverbial clause. will mean offending people, but he can either galvanize the cause of reform or demoralize it. It’ll be one of the biggest choices of his presidency.
Many of the reformist hopes now hang on Obama’s friend, Arne Duncan. The comma cuts off a restrictive appositivee. Obama has more than one friend. In Chicago, he’s a successful reformer who has produced impressive results in a huge and historically troubled system. He has the political skills necessary to build a coalition on behalf of No Child Left Behind reauthorization. Because he is close to both Obamas, he will ensure that education doesn’t fall, as it usually does, into the ranks of the second-tier issues.

If Obama picks a reformer like Duncan, Klein or one of the others, he will be picking a fight with the status quo. But there’s never been a better time to have that fight than right now.

There has never been a better time to fight illiteracy on the pages of the NYT either. It scares the children and frightens the horses. Get out your grammar primer. And be more reverent toward teachers. If you had just one tough English teacher that had hammered the basics into your head before Mr. Buckley turned it, you would not wallow in such a pile-up of grammar and punctuation errors in this slovenly piece of writing.

lee drury de cesare

I shall post this homily on Grammargrinch.blogspot and send a copy to Ms. Obama. I supported Obama. You didn't. The sisterhood will figure out a way to get teachers better treatment with the new president. He's an intellectual. He will see around corners. I think the reason why so few Republicans are intellectuals is that their lust for money has acted like the deadly pyridium in the comet bollide that smashed into the earth at the end the Jurassic and killed both the dinosaurs and most of the species thoughout the world

Thursday, December 04, 2008

God Bless My Wonderful Grammar-school Teachers

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "God Bless My Wonderful Grammar-school Teachers":

Hi Lee,
I was touched to read your latest blog on your primary teachers.
Don't get me wrong, I know the "TRUTH" about the children's garten and what the seeds need to foster growth and knowledge.
Its the "PERCEPTION" of being just Kindergarten that I was refering to. Anytime or everytime an elementary school has a "little" extra spending money, it goes directly to the FCAT test taking grades. Forget the "babies" we'll catch them in first grade. My school retained over 30 first graders last year! Kdg. teachers just"color,cut and paste" all day.
Kinders don't need computers, interventions, or to be tested for EH,SLD, or receive ELL and Speech services. Its just kindergarten. Hailey and Jake will grow out of "it". And we all know or should what usually happenes if you wait(neglect) to long.
If you have a master's degree in early childhood education the "PERCEPTION" is: "that's all you got"?huh? "What no masters in an.."ology" or mathmatics"?
hee hee "E.C.Edu. who needs it"?
"Not smart enough for big boy pants"?

Some blogger on this blog made that inference.

Thank you for all that you do!

Kindergarten Teacher for Life:)
aka "comma splice queen" you wrote that on my paper once. It's true, commas either you love em' too much or not enough ;)

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Posted by Anonymous to Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch at 8:57 PM

What we need is Ms. McPherson and her ruler to get after the culprits who don't see that kindergarten is a vital part of education. Meanwhile, I hope that cowdung is rained on their ignorant heads. lee

I didn’t go to kindergarten; that’s new to the school experience of recent years.

But I adored all my grammar-school teachers, especially Ms. McPherson, my first-grade teacher. I became a linguistics expert because of Ms. McPherson. If you said a word wrong, Ms. McPherson would paddle your hand with a ruler. Such was allowed then. I both feared and adored her; I was the best language student in the class. I was too scared not to be.

I can recall every one of my grade-school teachers after over seventy years. They stand in their holy role and beauty before me to this day. I meant to tell my former student who wrote me what an important job she is doing as a kindergarten teacher. She will have a place in her children’s memory forever.

Nobody remembers a college teacher—my job. But they remember their primary teachers. If you get good ones, it’s a lifelong blessing. I got great ones: Ms. McPherson, Ms. Roberts (taught me two grades), Ms. Byers, Ms. Pishney, and Ms. Lewis.

Kisses from this long-ago student to their wonderful memories. lee

From: Anonymous []
Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2008 5:32 PM To: Subject: [Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch] New comment on Anothere Teacher Crucifixion in the Erwin Traditio.... Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Anothere Teacher Crucifixion in the Erwin Traditio...":

JUST Kindergarten??
Kindergarten teachers lay the foundation for how children will perceive their school experience for many years. My kids have had bad, worse and FABULOUS. We need more fabulous.

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Thomas Vaughan has left a new comment on your post "The Press Takes a Powder When Teachers Are Involve...":

Yvonne Lyons is the Executive Director of the CTA. My criticism of her performance in an email to her elicited a smug and sarcastic response where she suggested I discuss any future issues with someone else at the CTA and went on to endorse the district's personnel policy. Her email response to me was insulting and I told her so.

Today in an email to members she advised teachers not to use the early release days as "Wacky Wednesday" as if the professionals who pay her salary need her admonishment.

She forgets that she works for US, she is OUR employee. She has no more respect for us than the district.

She must go.

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Posted by Thomas Vaughan to Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch at 7:11 PM

Hillsborough County teachers need a new union. I speak as a former union president at the college where I worked and was a union member for 28 years. lee

The Press Takes a Powder When Teachers Are Involved

I think that is a weird ethical parameter of not dealing with individual teachers. What are teachers: chicken liver? Maybe that bizarre press thinking is the reason poor Erwin’s case was buried. If the press doesn’t write about individuals, what does it write about, bricks and mortar Plato’s ideal forms? Elliot’s pathetic fallacy? This response by Brown is disingenuous. She writes about individual members of the board when they get in fights.

Bart, what about writing Ms. Brown and telling her about your case and pointing out that intimidation and firing of teachers who criticize the administration or board is an entrenched management technique and concerns the relationship between the board, administration, and teachers.

Ms. Stein makes a practice of not responding. She's the reportorial Greta Garbo: she wants to be alone. That’s why she will never win a Pulitzer—not even a Cracker Jacks gadget.

Who is Ms. Lyons?

When you meet with Ms. Griffin, inquire why she and Susan Valdes, both of whom I supported for the board, did not answer my request for them to establish a teacher/student position on the board agenda so that teachers and students would feel welcome to give the board their input.

All you bloggers, hang on to your blogs. You will be the print press's replacement sooner than you think.


From: Thomas Vaughan []
Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2008 7:30 PM
Subject: [Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch] New comment on Let's Cast a Wider Net.

Thomas Vaughan has left a new comment on your post "Let's Cast a Wider Net":

Ms Brown of the Tribune told me that she didn't get involved with individual teacher issues with the district or the CTA. I did write her back explaining that intimidation was a management technique employed by some district employees and it certainly went beyond my own personal issue.

Ms Stein didn't even respond.

In fact the only person who even said anything was Mr Lyons, who represented the district view. Ms Griffin was the only person who agreed to meet with me.

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Posted by Thomas Vaughan to Lee Drury De Cesare's Casting-Room Couch at 4:30 PM

Coming Soon? The No-Newspaper City

Cleveland_press_front_page Fitz: The 1970s ushered in the era of the one-newspaper city as afternoon papers withered and died in a numbing succession through every downturn well into the 1980s.

Now, as we enter the end of the 21st century’s first decade, we could see the era of the no-newspaper city, according to Fitch Ratings.

As E&P reports on its Web site, the Chicago-based ratings service is out with a gloomy prediction about the near future of media and entertainment – and it sees newspapers as the medium least like to weather a global recession that’s going to turn “severe” in 2009 with an advertising climate even more harsh than the industry’s painful experience during 2001-02.

"Fitch believes more newspapers and newspaper groups will default, be shut down and be liquidated in 2009 and several cities could go without a daily print newspaper by 2010," the Chicago-based credit ratings firm said in a report on the outlook for U.S. media and entertainment.

On a conference call with bond and credit analysts Monday morning, Fitch’s Mike Simonton elaborated on the liquidation prediction.

It’s true, he said, that banks and other lenders want to see newspapers and newspaper chains continue as going concerns. And by now you don’t need to be an industry analyst to understand that now, and probably not in 2009 either, is not going to try to sell a newspaper. (Even as he was speaking, AP was reporting that Landmark Communications was giving up trying to sell its flagship Virginian-Pilot.)

But he concluded, neither are creditors going to tolerate forever newspapers that don’t break even on a EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) basis. “It’s a matter of what that breaking point is,” Simonton said.

And when the breaking point arrives. Fitch thinks it could be pretty soon.

Hard to blame the agency for its pessimism. Among the newspaper companies it covers are several most reeling from debt, including Journal Register, which is in a period of forbearance by its lenders, and the junk-rated Lee Enterprises, Tribune Co., and The McClatchy Co.

Ms. Cobbe: Look at the last sentence of a reader’s comment to me below. Is Ms. Kipley’s husband on the auditing team for the schools? Thank you. ldd

Minions of the Light: Linda Kipley’s husband has no accounting degree or even bachelor’s degree. He got the job with the schools that involved accounting while several qualified people got turned down. This ugly routine is known as nepotism a go-go.

I reviewed the application files and made copies. If the Kipley-address Kipley is the Linda Kipley spouse, then this sounds like a good case to send to the federal government for violating the equal-opportunity riders for federal funds. I know for sure Kipley’s husband has neither bachelor’s degree or even a cooking school sheep skin. He has only a high school education. This requires a query to Ms. Cobbe for public information. lee