Sunday, September 06, 2009

Dear Melinda and Bill

Att'n Grant Division

Bill and Melinda Gates

PO Box 23350
Seattle, WA 98102


Dear Bill and Melinda:

I feel I know you both because I have followed your eleemosynary projects from their beginning. I especially approve of your health work for African children.

I also use Microsoft. I took courses so that I could use computers in my college classroom of English composition before I retired. I now use these skills to blog about the insufficiencies of the Hillsborough County school system.

I read one time that you thought that leaving a pile of money to your children was not good for them. You are right. Just look at what the "old money" parasites do when their foolishly fond parents die. The answer: nothing. They lollygag on the Riviera and have minds as vacuous as a formatted disk.

That you give grants to education is right. I know that the money you pass to education will reap rewards for students if it goes to the right projects overseen by ethical boards and administrations with input from teachers and students and oversight by savvy accountants.

A slickly written grant, however, should not beguile you to skip research into institutions getting such windfalls. I concentrate on the one that the Hillsborough County School System expects to get for a hundred million dollars. Both my children and grandchildren have attended Hillsborough County schools. So I know a bit about how this school system works.

Before bestowing grants of such magnitude, be leery that a hundred million dollars can turn souls from beatific to larcenous. Your grant people must cast a cold eye on the ethos of prospective recipients.

Something tells me you haven't.

I want to see the Hillsborough County schools get this grant. But there should be conditions that improve the whole school system as the price. You should set your grant team to learn enough about the administration and board ethics to gauge the caliber of the souls of the administrative-and-board bureaucrats who will administer the grant.

Hillsborough County's problem concerns the administration abetted by the school board fosters a passel of incompetent administrators. They are addicted to unethical practices, excel in those, and get away with it because so far voters have not caught on.

These date back at least to the early '90s, when administrator Doug Erwin discovered crime on the campuses and tried to get the board and administration to do something about it. Instead, Superintendent Dr. Earl Lennard and his administrative goons with board cheerleading tried to shut Mr. Erwin up, saying at first he was crazy and then plotting to fire him and cancel his pension.

The board wiggled out of doing an investigation of Mr. Erwin's charges and endorsed by silence the actions of the superintendent and his goons.

Nobody in the whole school system volunteered any help to the poor man. It must have been the loneliest feeling.

Mr. Erwin finally gave up on the board and administration, both of which probably had members on the take from this crimes. He sued under the Whistleblower Act and won.

On the losing defense team was the current board attorney, Tom Gonzalez, who earns over a quarter of a million taxpayer dollars yearly as board mouthpiece. This loot from taxpayer coffers pays him to sanitize or disguise in legal cotton wadding the board's and administration's missteps and misdeeds. My theory is that he got the job even though he lost the Erwin case because the board and administration sensed they had in Gonzalez an attorney to hand with elastic habits of mind that would wrap their skullduggeries in legal tissue paper.

Mr. Gonzalez, alas. is the kind of lawyer that thrives in Hillsborough County. I have filed and lost a Florida Board ethics charge against him with the state legal priesthood for, among other things, his hinting to me during citizens' comment time that he could file an extortion lawsuit against me for my saying that if the board did not stop its jobs programs for relatives, hangers-on, sycophants, and no-talent kin of the powerful and start fulfilling the we-are-an-equal-employment-opportunity-employer promise stamped on every piece of board stationery I would ask the Federal government to conduct a compliance review of its grants.

Mr. Gonzalez knows the state SLAPP law forbids such lawsuits against citizens who approach their government and its representatives for redress of grievances. He just didn't know I knew.

The Erwin jury didn't believe the administrators' lying cover-up. Hence, justice triumphed. The poor fellow, disillusioned and beaten down by the hostility of the people with whom he had worked thirty years, won. Florida paid him $165,000 for the criminal activity of the administration and board. Someone close to the trial claims that when the school defense lawyers complained to the judge that the award was too high, the judge told them that it would have been higher had Mr. Erwin had a competent lawyer.

The board fired not one person for this outrage. It should at a minimum have fired Dr. Lennard, the lead sadist.

The administration and board crooks got away with the Erwin outrage by dumping the cost on the taxpayers and hunkering down until the public forgot the dirty deed. Since doing evil, illegal things turned out to be cost free, the DNA of this crime continues. Three of the board members in office during the Erwin agon--Dr. Lamb, Ms. Kurdell, and Ms. Olson--still sit on the board.

Bright college graduate with degrees in valid subjects from good universities go into teaching. Not so mediocre students. In Hillsborough County as well as countrywide, school administrations feature C students too often from second-tier universities with degrees in academic folderol. In Hillsborough County, the head of Professional Standards, a powerful office that decides the fate of teachers when the administration frames them for professional lapses, has as head a woman with a home-ec degree and a talent for sadism and sycophancy.

The superintendent recently hired this woman's husband for the accounting department with only a high school diploma and no experience in preference to four applicants with accounting degrees from respectable universities plus experience. One was a handicapped woman whom the school government grants say should garner special consideration.

The head of government liaison in the capital of Tallahassee is a young woman with a kindergarten degree who got her job from her protégée status of a much older top male administrator, Dr. James Don Juan Hamilton. The resident ladies' man's wife resigned her principal job in the schools, divorced, and then remarried the old roué when the liaison appeared to dissolve. Now Superintendent Elia has rehired the old goat at a whopping salary in an economic downturn as lobbyist in Tallahassee after his retirement, reuniting patron and beneficiary. One does not know the wife's status yet.

Both the Professional Standards home-ec head and the kindergarten government liaison make about $150,000 a year compared with beginning teachers' $33,000. The superintendent makes about $300,000 a year, $40,000 of which is her "bonus" for teachers', not her, raising students' performance levels.

This in-house superintendent got the job without the required Ph.D. and experience first posited. The incumbency-obsessed board lowered credentials to fit hers because it wanted a known quantity that would not mess with members' perquisites, one of which being unlimited travel money.

Susan Valdez, one board profligate, spent $50,000 in a single year flying around the country to pick up gimcrack awards administrative bureaucracies pass around by the Dempsey Dumpster to make these insecure scholars manqué feel important. Valdez's squandered travel money could have helped the county's many poor children buy supplies for school activities they can't engage in for lack of them.

The ceremonial school board makes ten thousand dollars more than beginning teachers merely for lolling on the board dais during board meetings nattering about tremendous trifles. They spent an entire board meeting whining about how hard it was to make up the holiday schedule instead of dealing with the unfairness of the holiday calendar that shut out Jews, Muslims, and any other religion that was not born again and engaged in foot washing. When not thus preoccupied, board members flock to the county's many political-trough eat-outs funded by unknowing taxpayers.

The result of these nonstop tax-funded pigouts, of course, is that board members have waxed fat. This board-member heft explains why they won't mount a program to stress to students the importance of keeping their weight within normal bounds for health.

Only one member of the board, La Jennifer Falliero, is not fat. Ethics is her Achilles heel. A woman in her forties, she affects Delta Dawn attire and sweeping teeny-bopper tresses dyed an improbable shade of blonde. I have labeled her "Pole Girl" for her stalking the former Community Affairs head in his office for what she claimed was "mentoring" until she seduced the dummy, got him to divorce his wife, and made his two young children suffer. The little boy's grades plummeted; the little girl's chronic illness exacerbated. The fellow lost his school job for "drunkenness" in an administration cover-up of the affair to save Delta Dawn Falliero's "reputation." The board named the femme fatale, whom I call Pole Girl. as its chair. Appointing Pole Girl as board chair lays bare the board's moral compass.

The Professional Standards Office under the tutelage of Ms. Elia cooks up charges against teachers whole cloth or takes a trifle and blows it up to the point that faux accusations result in a manufactured professional-standards charge against any teacher who even whispers a negative comment about the way the board and administration run the schools. The Professional Standards head, home-ec Linda Kipley, puts the poor wretch on indefinite suspension, keeping the teacher on tenterhooks about retaining his or her job. This blackmail works. Teachers are terrified to say anything about the vile behavior of the board and administration.

One Steve Kemp under a cooked-up charge recently spent a year on probation out of the classroom for behavior that the Sheriff's Child-protective service dismissed the day administrator Mr. Smiley, bucking for a promotion, filed it. The administration banned the suspended teacher out of the classroom for a year because it wanted to put the squeeze on the guy to discontinue his teacher blog. The board and administration hate blogs because they go athwart their campaign to fool the voters with the Public Affairs Laundromat sanitizing of all information about the schools.

For two years I have observed the schools because Professional Standards falsely charged a teacher friend with use of the school mails for personal messages. The real reason I believe for the cooked-up charge was he's gay. The superintendent did not want the schools' reputation contaminated with knowledge that a gay guy was a teacher because it would inflame the bigots in political fens and bogs on the edge of the county so that they would lock and load to march on the board. The same cowardly mentality shaped the board and administration's evasion of an inclusive religious holiday calendar.

In time spent observing the board, I have learned what a wretched position teachers have in a system of administrative and board lust for éclat, power, and control of tax money to augment their sense of being Masters of the Universe. I think they also like to trample on the A students who become teachers because they are jealous of their brains.

A hundred million dollars from your foundation will be dangerously seductive to the Dark Side of the greedy administrative C students handling such Microsoft loot. You must have your grant accountants do due diligence. Otherwise, it's Katy, bar the door.

If teachers let out a murmur of protest about the conditions in the schools or make a suggestion on how to cure evils that they see, these teachers have a Professional Standards charge in their mail the next day. Most teachers dare not say anything even when an administrative outrage affects their ability to teach.

Such was the case when Ms. Elia downloaded on teachers an extra class period sans compensation and even without a heads up and invitation to express their views. She also has bought without consulting teachers who will have to implement it a multimillion-dollar program called The Spring. It has failed in other venues. It is a flop in Hillsborough County I have heard.

Ms. Elia also forced teachers to practice grade inflation so that her numbers will look better to the state school bureaucratic and political world. She has not only allowed but also I believe encouraged the Professional Standards office to continue its campaign against teachers by cooking up or exacerbating charges about their professional behavior so that they dare not speak out about such conditions that she imposes that negatively impact their teaching.

The same coercive rules don't apply to administrators. An administrator at King High School summoned pubescent boys into his office for several years, ordered them to take off their shoes, fondled their feet, and cracked their toes (!). Administration and board labeled this foot fetishists' psychosexual acting-out as an innocuous ha-ha example of administrative antic sense of humor. It merited, said an administration lying in wait to pounce on teachers with a Professional-Standards' charge, a belly laugh and the gloss "Isn't he a card?"--not a Professional Standards charge with referral to psychiatric evaluation.

Home-ec Kipley also doctored the sheriff's report of the charge with a redaction dictated by Attorney Gonzalez that exonerates the toe cracker, although labyrinthine explanations that such is not the case have been presented.

I asked for the count of professional-standards violations of both teachers and administrators for the past several years under the Public Information law. I got those of teachers; I got none for administrators. I believe that the reason for the absence of administrators targeted by Professional Standards for infractions is that they never get punished for anything they do no matter how dastardly. Only teachers suffer invidious punishment to keep them scared of losing their jobs if they don't remain quiet.

The board does its part to diminish and humiliate teachers by not ceding them and their students a settled place in the board agenda. So if the administration cooks up some cockamamie schemes with which to squander the Microsoft grant money, the teachers and their students must remain mute.

If a teacher has a problem, it's useless to go to a board member. All ran on platforms to "clean up the schools"; then they get on the board only to strike ceremonial poses, deferring everything to Superintendent Elia, in order to commence their rounds of banquet hopping and chowing down. These board members will blow off any teacher unsophisticated enough to ask for succor. That was what happened to Steve Kemp, accused of child abuse and exonerated by the sheriff of the charge on the first day of its filing. He asked for a board member's help; she, who claims to be a teacher's particular friend, chickened out big time.

Board members strike a pretence of ignorance in any case of teacher retaliation. They can't be bothered with the trivia of teacher torture. They are somewhere in the county eating.

These cited outrages of the Hillsborough County school system are not comprehensive. Were I to catalogue them all, this communication would burgeon to the size of Curt Gentry's biography of FBI head J. Edgar Hoover's vicious behavior perpetrated in fifty-five years as head of the bureau.

One bright spot is citizen blogs. With blogs the administrative and board crooks have run up against the bulwark of the First Amendment. And in Florida we have the open-records and SLAPP law added to the First Amendment that prevents boards from hiding public information from citizens and prevents compliant attorneys such as Mr. Gonzales from filing suits against citizens who complain about the unethical and often criminal conduct of school boards and administrations determined to maintain their financial power and prestige with whatever methods with which they can get away.

When I started attending the school board to observe its mores, the first time I spoke in the 3 meager minutes grudgingly allotted citizens, the chair at the time made clear that she did not welcome my comments or anybody's but those of flatterers.

The current chair, Carol Kurdell, board member since the Precambrian period, has maneuvered a shutdown of my comments on agenda items. She began by interrupting me repeatedly when I tried to speak on agenda items and, in effect, shut out my comments at the podium by talking over me. She has gradually worked up to confiscating my right to comment on agenda items altogether.

La Kurdell and Steve Hegarty, a former St. Pete Times reporter who has moved from pro-First Amendment rights when he was working for a newspaper because his boss was for the First Amendment to the position anti-First-Amendment rights now that his bosses are against the First Amendment.

Hegarty's current bosses don't like the First Amendment although they took an oath of office to uphold it. They do everything they can get away with to undermine citizens' First Amendment rights. Attorney Gonzalez sits in shut-down mode when the board is trashing the First Amendment. I believe he isn't fond of the First Amendment--an unusual aberration for an attorney.

Administrative and board members have not read the Constitution or much else. They do not sleep with the Federalist Papers under their pillows. They could live quite comfortably in any dictatorship provided they were among the in-crowd and got plenty of money to squander extorted from the peasants and allowed to attend a plethora of eating opportunities.

Ms. Kurdell is now at the stage in her First Amendment shutdown of me that she has had errand boy Hegarty deliver me in clumsily oblique language the board's belief that I suffer from Alzheimer's because I am an elderly citizen; hence the board must confiscate my requests to comment on agenda items.

My response to that is even were I in the throes of terminal Alzheimer's I could outthink and outtalk these board-and-administration dummies and deliver my objections to their nutty policies in Standard English.

If anybody has trouble with coherence in comments, it's board members. They have had shabby educations. Two board members have not even a debased college degree. Two have degrees from a university that PBK has repeatedly turned down for membership. One has a suspect "doctorate" the which I would love to get my hands on to review for grammar-and-punctuation mess-ups, thin logic, and even thinner research. I would conduct as well a forensics analysis to determine if it were ghosted.

My husband, former mayor of our little beach town for more than ten years, says the chair of the schools' board does wrong to prevent a citizen's commenting on agenda items. He says the board, if it follows Roberts Rules much less democracy, must let citizens speak.

My old man's comment will get no support from the Roberts Rules and democracy thugs who run the school board.

The conditions in Hillsborough county schools are not unique unfortunately. They replicate themselves around the country. School bureaucratic parasites pad their numbers and cite higher and higher salaries as the going rate, adding

more with each superintendent and administrator hire in a never-ending cycle of greed. Teachers pay continues to be peanuts, making a second job mandatory for too many.

School boards lack both the sophistication and also the ethics to recognize this racket, given their education and intelligence deficit. Because it's not their money, but Microsoft's, board members could rubberstamp a hundred million dollars as just the right salary to give the latest county superintendent. They would as well, under Microsoft's umbrella of legitimacy, continue their jobs program to hire the C and D students, the sycophants, and the out-of-work, no-talent relatives of the board and superintendent.

So unless you are on the qui vivre, don't be surprised if Microsoft's hundred-million-dollar grant funds the first superintendent salary in the country for a hundred million dollars even though he or she has trouble putting commas in the right place.

If you blindly download a hundred million dollars on the likes of the administration and board in Hillsborough County, you merely feed the beast and perpetuate its abuses unless you put some riders on the money and have your foundation accountants on the q.v.

Here is my suggestion: Have your grant team do a review of the board-and- administration practices. Talk to some teachers; some lunchroom workers; some janitors. Convinced that you are on the right track as I wager you will be, attach riders to the grant that say to receive this pile of money the salivating recipients must do the following:

1. Appoint a standing citizens' committee of school-children's parents to conduct a review of the Professional Standards office and its sadistic treatment of teachers and to ride herd on it with periodic reports. And by all means insist on a head for this office whose degree exceeds that of home ec major.

2. Insist that the board have a standing entry for teachers and students' comments on the board agenda plus the assurance in writing by the lawyer such as he is that they can take their harassment complaints to a peace officer with clout if the administration tries to tag them with a Professional Standards Scarlet Letter for exercising their Constitutional rights to express their opinions.

3, Sign up all board members but the skinny Delta Dawn home wrecker for Weight Watchers and dock their salaries for fees. Have the Weight Watchers Dean of Students send the Gates grant people the board's attendance records and weight history. Make losing weight until board members are normal human beings a contingency of the grant. Require Delta Dawn Pole Girl home wrecker to read Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics and write a humongous term paper on the difference between Aristotle's and Galileo's theories of motion and how each affects the stability of the rotunda arc in the board room on which board members and administration stars sit when all are in attendance so as to adorn the structure.

4. Require that Ms. Elia furlough Dr. James Hamilton, the school's moldy Don Juan, from his Tallahassee lobbying job so that his wife can get some sleep.

5. Have some citizens with accounting savvy and a steely-eyed view of the board and administration volunteer to do oversight on the way the schools spend the grant money. There are lots of citizens on to the board-and-administration power racket who would exult in that job.

Count yourselves lucky that I have not added my ten grandchildren's many virtues and accomplishments to this missive. We grandmothers have been known to flag down cars in the street to regale the startled motorists with these precious data.

On another matter: I am not having a good time with my new computer's Vista innards. The one before Vista was better in my amateur opinion. If you are collecting customer Vista data, add my input.


(Ms.) Lee Drury De Cesare

15316 Gulf Boulevard 802

Madeira Beach, FL 33708


Anonymous said...

You are right, Lee! There better be an oversight committee concerning this money or who knows where it will end up! The board members will be flying to every conference they can and putting school district paid-for plants on their properties the way Joe Newsome supposedly did. Now he has a school named after him and he was greeted like a God the last time he spoke to the board.

Anonymous said...

Gates is only interested in further entrenching the use of Microsoft products. What gives these corporate "education experts" (i.e. Gates, George Lucas Educational Foundation, etc.) any actual expertise in education? They have their own political/corporate agenda. "Traditional" was traditional because it worked. Follow the money trail.