Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Silver Lining: My Power Company and Internet Service Provider conspired with my computer manufacturer to keep me off line. It gave me pause to think and listen about what happened at Tuesday's Board meeting.

"I hope your classes behave better than this."

- Candy Olsen April 10, 2007

"As a 43-year veteran educator, I know that none of you would have accepted some of the behavior from your students that you hurled at us." "You have a right to disagree, but there's something called mutual respect."

-Doretha Edgecomb April 10, 2007

"In this case disrespect seems to be a matter of perspective. Make your promotions, give your awards and THEN TALK to YOUR EMPLOYEES. Don't let them fume in the back listening to the self-aggrandizing comments of the board."

-comment from Times web page.


Feeling the heat? Feeling the anger? Feeling the frustration? Join the club.

This anger and frustration is now palatable. If this schedule change goes through what the Board experienced on Tuesday will be a walk in the park. If this schedule change goes through the Board will be dealing with teacher stress and burnout in October - NOT April. What the public saw on Tuesday was a glimpse into the hearts of caring people who KNOW they are being saddled with an impossible task.

I loved it when my students were animated and engaged. Any response that indicated involvement and participation was something to be appreciated. Even if the response was contrary to what I was trying to draw out.

Those teachers were cheering for what they believed in. They were not being disrespectful. It was a very civil display of camaraderie. Guess you didn't want to hear it.

What's the difference between the cheering support of the teachers and the board members who swoon over each others weekly activities and praise each other for cutting a ribbon when they open a new water fountain?!

Disrespectful? It just goes to show how disconnected the Board is from the classroom. Walk your campuses without the entourage (if you dare). Go into the bathrooms, the teacher planning areas, the dining areas, the BASIC classes, student affairs, the PE locker rooms, roam the hallways alone during the change of class and continue right through to the next change. You were not disrespected by your employees but you will see how they are treated! I dare you to visit your middle and high schools, alone. Regularly. Out of your district. And then extrapolate that to 6 out of 7 periods.

Too those fine, brave, articulate teachers who showed up and spoke: THANK YOU. To the asshole in the back who chose to give the board fodder for their comments: "Consider yourself lucky that I wasn't there. Stay home and watch it on TV and pray I'm not there if you choose to repeat that idiocy. You are not at a Comedy Club amateur night. Have some class."


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Below is my letter to the board. Enjoy! I encourage other teachers to express their feeling regarding last nights meeting.

Dear Board,

After attending last nights meeting I am highly insulted by Edgecomb's accusations that Hillsborough County School teachers were disrespectful toward the board members. What you view as disrespectful, we view as supportive for our fellow teachers who are taking a stand for what they believe. High school teachers would be thrilled to receive the level of enthusiasm you saw last night from our students in class. Engaged students do not sit quietly by and stare blankly at the teacher. Engaged students directly challenge their teachers and sometimes teach us a few new things! Engaged students show support for one another. This is what you viewed last night. Teachers supporting teachers. We are tired, frustrated and desperate for someone to actually listen, not just hear us. Ms Valdes, Ms Faliero, and Ms. Griffin thank you for actually listening to us and recognizing that there is a happy medium that must be reached if you want to retain your qualified teachers.

As you've seen tonight, we are not a small disgruntled few. The following schools were represented last night: Freedom, Armwood, Spoto, Sickles, Gaither, Leto, Plant City, Brandon, Bloomingdale, Alonso, Robinson, East Bay, King, and Riverview to name a few. Unit loss IS teacher loss. When your elective program is cut teachers who specialize in their field will be forced to teacher out of field. Are they still employed.... sure. Are they going to be effective out of field...absolutely not! Are they considered "highly qualified" by No Child Left Behind guidelines...no!

Based on the treatment teachers have received from the school board our frustration will only to continue to grow. Allowing your employees only two minutes to air their concerns is disrepectful. Not allowing a teacher to finish their sentence is disrespectful. Not including teachers in decisions that negitively affect them is disrespectful. Answering teacher questions with non-answer answers is disrespectful. Sooner or later you will have to listen to us. Remember, you are voted into office. Listen to us! include us in the process of finding a solution instead of just throwing a quick fix solution at us. We want to work with you! Can we not organize a scheduled meeting between the school board and 2 teacher representatives from each high school in our district to actually discuss the situation at hand and find real ways to find a compromise. I refuse to believe that there are no other options available to us. As Ms. Valdes suggested last night, we can find new and innovative ways to fix this. We don't have to stand in the shadows of the other districts and follow what they do.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Please see the link below:


I have never been more proud to be a hillsborough county teacher. I would like to send a personal thank you to every teacher who showed up last night in support. The presenters were amazing. Please pass along my graditude to the two Alonso students who spoke. They were well prepared, well spoken, and well mannered. Kudos to them. Teachers at my school are preparing a large email campaign regarding the comments by Ms. Edgecomb last night. I will post my email here after I send it at the end of the school day.

Let keep up the good work :-)

Carla Crabapple

Cable Guy said...

A fellow teacher with an eye for BS and matching wit sent me this letter to read. I asked and got his permission to post it.

RE: “Angry Teachers Confront Board,” St. Pete Times, Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I rarely, if ever, read the St. Pete Times, but I was directed to an article in it written about the Hillsborough County School Board meeting of Tuesday night. It described a complete comedy of errors regarding the school board’s and Mrs. Elia’s proposal to force teachers to teach an extra period a day next year without compensation, and just how it affects our students.

The first comment in the article that caught my attention was particularly poignant. From Superintendent MaryEllen Elia: "I wish that this (the above-mentioned proposal) had been communicated in a way that got the word out and the understanding to all the people involved in this.”

I say there was absolutely no miscommunication whatsoever. It was perfectly clear at the outset that this had little to do then, as it does now, with putting “quality” teachers in the classroom for the maximum amount of time. This had everything to do with micromanagement to the nth degree from a group of people who have long been out of the classroom and lack the reality of the paperwork and effort it takes to properly educate our students, hence the laughter from the teachers when hearing the remark, “this is a benefit to our students.”

Surely this was no sign of disrespect, as I put that comment on par with anything slapstick enough to come from the mouth of Henny Youngman. It drew a chuckle out of me just reading it, and I was not even there. Sign her up for amateur night at the Ybor Improv, I say. She would make a better comedian than Superintendent of Hillsborough County Schools.

This has nothing to do with our students, this has everything to do with fiscal management and compliance with the class size amendment and fattening the pockets of the downtown clientele, Mrs. Elia and her rotund raise included.

Which leads me to the next fallacy of a misdirected administration: Doretha Edgecomb states in reaction to the laughter and raucousness from the teachers, “I know that none of you would have accepted some of the behavior from your students that you hurled at us,” and follows it up with “there's something called mutual respect.”

Wow. This was a principal? Alright, don't sign her up for amateur night at The Improv, sign her up for ESE classes. This was not the least bit funny.

Comparing students, who are our subordinates, who rely on us to teach them, is downright disrespectful to educators on the part of Mrs. Edgecomb, as we are colleagues of hers, and not the board’s, nor Mrs. Elia’s subordinates, their grandiose thoughts on the matter, notwithstanding.

That is correct, we are all educators. As teachers, we rely on Mrs. Edgecomb and MaryEllen Elia for nothing more than ignorant decisions that solve a solely financial crisis that has not a scintilla to do with student gains, when we should be relying on them to make conditions better for the people in charge of improving the education of Hillsborough county students, the teachers, and not escaping to find a method to pinch penny after penny that would contribute to our esteemed superintendent's raise that supercedes my annual salary by at least eight thousand dollars per my year.

Face it, this is not about educating children, this is not about putting the “best educators we have in the classroom for the maximum amount of time,” this is a way to save money to pay more people to be “consultants to proposals,” create more downtown positions that only reward the people who conform to the mandates of people in charge, and, in fact, chase the best educators we do have to Pasco, Pinellas, Manatee, and, dare I say it, Polk county.

If this county is in such dire financial straits, then Mrs. Elia should embrace her role as our “leader,” our superintendent, and take control of that problem, stand up for her “best” educators, and refuse the largess of that raise she just got for the work that I, and my colleagues do on a daily basis, and instruct the board to put that money back into teacher salaries.

I have not once met Mrs. Elia, have not once succumbed to her superior knowledge on how to raise school grades, not once ever heard her thoughts on the matter of improving student scores, yet she gets a raise proportionate to eight thousand dollars more than I make a year, atop her $230,000.00 something dollar salary, when I, and all my colleagues did the work? God forbid, oh my fault, I just lost my sense of political correctness, a Higher Being forbid, we actually have a leader that sacrifices as much as she is asking her flock to do. How much we lack true leadership in this county...

On a final note, regarding the comparison of educators to “students,” and the board to our “teachers,” directed to Mrs. Edgecomb specifically, were I to subject my students to the kind of abuse that the board, and our superintendent intends to impose upon us, I could expect multiple parent-administration conferences to address my abuses on our “children.” I would encourage them to react accordingly, were I to subject them to this kind of abuse.

However, Mrs. Edgecomb, I am no child, and am not your student. I am your fellow educator. Let us keep that in perspective, shall we?

Pay me $230,000.00 a year, add a fifty thousand dollar bonus, and I will teach 100 students per class, 6 classes per day, 12 months a year and you will not hear a complaint out of me. As it stands, the paltry sum you pay us combined with the added load you are proposing is unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

Time to reorganize. Some of you may have already spoken to me today via phone. Get the word out. The next school board meeting is in two weeks. Several schools are joining together to create RESPECTFUL signs for a teacher rally starting at 4:30 and ending around 6 in front of the school board building. I will be contacting the news stations early next week inviting them to join us. Please join us! Email me at carlacrabapple@yahoo.com if your school would like to participate. I'd like to get an idea of how many people we'll have. Keep up the good work... lets have another strong show. WE DID MAKE AN IMPACT!!! If you are on the fence about attending the next school boarding think fondly of Ms. Edgecomb :-)

Carla Crabapple

wordsmith23 said...

cable guy: you are the man. Thank you with aplomb, my man...

I thank you for the link, and will comment further.


Anonymous said...

Hillsborough County high school teachers make the front page of the tampa trib today:


Yeah us!

Anonymous said...

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

Oh OK: Cripple those "qualified" teachers, weaken them physically, undermine their efficiency so you don't have to hire weak, unqualified teachers.

Maybe the Post Office is hiring superintendents.

Goader said...

I agree that for the most part the article in the Tribune is a good one. One part of it concerns me though. Toward the end of the first part of the article, on the front page, says: “[I]ncreased requirements and pressure from both federal No Child Left Behind law and state laws, including required remedial classes for struggling students. That makes a seven-period day for all students to maintain elective courses.”

I am still too new to teaching to comment on the specific reasons for the extended teaching time ordered by Elia. Maybe someone else with a longer tenure can help clarify why I seem to have a problem with the list in the article. The problem I have with it is it lacks supporting details. The reporter’s list looks too convenient, almost contrived and dismissive. I am struggling for words because I don’t know why the list looks phony, but it does have a fishy look to me.

If my suspicion that the list is bogus is accurate, then it is another example of how the issues get muddled. They are confusing enough, with political interests deliberately twisting the facts; we can do without further muddying the water.

Anonymous said...

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

POOR writing. Basically, it is saying that we can't cut back on the number of periods we provide to students. It has NOTHING to do with us teaching 6 out of 7 periods UNLESS this is an attempt to head off any discussion of reducing the school day.

Lee DeCesare has alluded to the friendship between the Superintendent and the Trib editor so this may be an influence.

Also it is not unheard of to have the Press Officer provide information to reporters and papers. Considering the layoffs in the publishing industry it is much more expedient for the reporter to "accept" the information unvetted rather than clock hours doing their own research. BTW Steve Hagerty was a former Times reporter.

I guess "No Child Left Behind" is really a code for "Pass Everybody No Matter What".

Goader has pointed out the district's developing strategy: Confuse the public. Increase the jargon.kidxpqi

Sisyphus said...


Goader said...

I left a comment "Out in Left Field" about the real issue we should be talking about: the hecklers. (At least the board members want us to stick to the hecklers and get off the other thing.)

Sisyphus said...


Asking for Ms Elia's, and her henchman, Dr. Greggo, resignations. They are what is wrong with SDHC. They are about bottom line dollars, and NOT what is right/best practices for our students.

Sisyphus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Suzie Creamcheese said...

See Lee's latest post. It chock full of commentary and background. Considering her experience with our Superintendent - Mrs. Elia forced Lee's employer to fire her, using the district's advertising budget as the club - we are fortunate to have her as a supporter.

Lee has been know to ask some very pointed and researched questions of our Superintendent in some very public venues. She doesn't let go.

Anonymous said...

Last night I spoke to a husband of a teacher who lost her position at the school she was teaching at! Will she get another within a reasonable driving distance? Will she get a position in the field she has been trained in or just dumped into a classroom in order to provide a body to babysit? And who suffers the most?

Suzie Creamcheese said...

Thank You sisyphus.

I recommend others visit your blog.

They just need to click on your (or any) name that is blue and they'll be transported diretly to it.

Sisyphus said...

We need to organize!

We need to share ideas about what signs we will carry at the next SB meeting (4:30 or a tad earlier).

CTA is obviously not looking out for our interests. I remain a member only because I believe in UNION. The next month with be the testing grounds. I hold onto membership only for this last "swan song" and to look at how they are protecting a 30+ year teacher and a 22+ year teacher with the "system".