Saturday, March 31, 2007


I'm beginning to think that we need another organization to represent us. An organization that is not afraid to look at the Board and say "NO". An organization that will go to the edge for us. An organization that is not afraid to go to jail for what is right. This county is big enough for TWO. Some healthy competition is good. I'm weary of "accepting" the status quo because "the law says we can't (fill in the blank)". I'm looking for leadership. Remember when unions would take out full page ads in order to win over public sentiment? Or at least get their message out!

Dear Hillsborough County voters,

You voted for a constitutional amendment because you wanted smaller classes for your children. Nobody in their right mind would disagree. You were ignored by everybody from the governor to the local school boards. Since no one came forward with any logical or compelling reason not to vote for the smaller classes, the amendment passed. The governor and former superintendent figured that they'd be gone when the poop hit the fan. They were right.

So what do we do now? I'd like to see them say to the state "NO WAY". Unfortunately one of their favorite comments is that they have a "constitutional obligation to (fill in the blank)". The Superintendent is not going to say "As a former teacher it is not in the best interest of my district to comply with an impossible state mandate on the backs of one segment of workers."

So far here is what I see in the crystal ball if we stay the course:

Teachers will teach, leave everything at school and go home.
No sponsors for anything. (Prom, Grad Night, dances, etc)
No sponsors for clubs.
Limited letters of recommendation - or blatantly obvious fill-in-the-blank templates.
Extended time to grade work and get it to the students.
More ScanTron multiple choice tests.
Parents who want to know why the grades aren't on Edline as quick as they used to be.
No after school duties assigned or filled.
No chaperones.
Phone call and email response complaints to the principal.
District paperwork chronically late, missing or full of careless errors.
Teachers purposefully scheduling medical visits on a common day.
Chronic substitute shortages.
Teachers teaching 7 out of 7 periods. (Covering classes)
Increasingly more teachers calling in sick creating a vicious cycle.
School gets "cancelled" because not enough teachers or substitutes show up.
FCAT scores tank.
The state DOE steps in.
Either the Amendment gets "recalled" or an amendment allowing teachers to strike gets on the ballot.


I never liked the idea of unions per se. I always seemed to do more than the teacher in the next room and yet still got paid the same. I always figured that my money could buy a lawyer if I needed one. I still do. BUT this is affecting my friends and colleagues like nothing else.

So who knows how to solicit union representation? Who says it as to be NEA affiliated? Who says that the county can't negotiate with a union of middle and high school teachers? Or just high school teachers? Can we start our own?

We are ripe for the picking. Maybe, just maybe I wanna be a teamster.

PS. Please see "goader's" comment in 'ROSSAC' post.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Too Quiet On The ROSSAC Front

Why did the superintendent's 'auto-opener' Spring Break wish rub me the wrong way? I told myself I was going to "flush" my attitude and hoped it would stay down. I was going to take a break from "The Wall" and come back with a new perspective. I left everything at school.

It didn't take long ( lunch, Monday) for me to realize that our leadership was going to pretend that everything was OK!! If no one said anything then maybe "it" would go away. Admittedly, I stayed away from the newspaper and the TV news (it felt good) but nobody at school was talking about any news reports.

The newspapers appear distracted and are unlikely to be supportive - lip service at best. Start to notice how much they "spend" in advertising. The district spin-meister is a former Times reporter. They leverage the money very effectively.

Where is our CTA? Look at their web site ( THERE IS NOTHING!!! It's tax time so the money they collect should still be a fresh memory. THERE IS NOTHING!!! God ladies: MAKE AN EFFORT!

There is STILL anger and teachers are quietly crying out for something that resembles leadership.

This suggestion comes from a rank and file comment in the Board Meeting post and IT IS TIME TO TRY SOMETHING TOGETHER.

"For everyone's consideration: Let's plan to email EACH board member and the Superintendent a short and sweet "memo" that we are not happy with the Superintendent's plan. Include a simple sentence about what we may not be able to do in the time that the plan is alloting us. A suggested solution could be optional. We should send the email on ONE of the following days: Thursday April 5, Friday April 6, or Saturday April 7. (numerologists take note)

We do not want to blow up the email inboxes or tax the system. It is NOT our intent to do damage. It is our intent to display our unity, displeasure, and professional thoughtfulness as displayed by the 3 target days which include a Saturday. This not not appear to violate any District Email Guideline and actually will indicate how much the Board supports its own goal for improved communication.

We have enough teachers to fill the Forum.

Roll call begins now!"

Get your emails ready.

Use First Class. After all it is the district's program for communication. If you address it -

To: School-Board-Members
MaryEllen Elia

your thoughts and concerns will get to them all with a minimum of typing.

Pick a day and push "SEND". You won't be alone.

Next Board Meeting: April 10th.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Random Thoughts-Board Meeting-Mar.13

Maybe I was too busy cooking but I swear the board was bragging that the district level exams that are/were created and "tweaked" by teachers to comply with the Sunshine State Standards are being given away to the STATE and other districts!!! FREE!!!! The members appeared to be happy that these tests were requested. Your intellectual efforts should have value. If teachers wrote them, tested them, and tweaked them then they should have a price tag attached with the proceeds put into an salary account and given back to teachers.

We paid a boatload for CRISS training and materials which was nothing more than a collection of activities and strategies that every Masters of Reading candidate paid for at the university.

Ms. Olson wants to evaluate "programs" ostensibly to determine the program's effectiveness. Since we can't evaluate the "300 minute" plan, how about looking at data BEFORE a decision is made? Hey, USF! Hey, Tampa U.! How about a quid pro quo? We take enough of your ed interns, how about checking the research about our current dilemma. Can a teacher realistically be expected to perform all they are expected to perform 6 out of 7 periods a day - 5 days a week? Let the superintendent know. Let her know now. Answer completely and support your conclusions with valid research?

If you missed the "public" forum, believe me, things are heating up. Kudos to the 7 speakers! Even our students stood up and made great points. Articulation was razor sharp and professional. Was the board listening? The camera stayed on the speakers.

Special THANKS to Lee Drury De Cesare for her impassioned (and reserved - if you've ever read anything she's posted or published) support.

C.T.A. execs were present but mute - so just what are we paying for?

5:00 PM - 9:00 PM How much do you think was spent on P.R. and self-promotion vs. actual management?

Monday, March 5, 2007

50 Ways To Spend Your Conference

I think we need to get as many school teachers as possible to attend and shed light on what they will be "forced" to give up. I think the key word is FORCED... not refuse. My proposal for the next school board meeting is to get as many teachers as possible to stand in front of the school board and say "I am Carla Crabapple and I teach blah blah blah at Blank high school. Because of Ms. Elias decision I will be forced to give up Blank club and I will no longer be able to volunteer for _ _ _ _". Next teacher stands up... "My name is .." I think this is a strong strategy and will prevent us from sounding like a broken record. What do you all think of this idea ?

This deserves its own posting. Let's use it as a good starting point.
I'm not sure about the word "forced". May I suggest that the approach be something like:

"I will have to make some unpleasant but necessary choices. Like any company, organization or family, priorites must be established in order to function efficiently and effectively. We have not been asked for our input in this matter so we are here seeking DIRECTION from those who made the decision without us."

Let the district tell us what is important and set our priorities.

When parents ask us why we are unable to do something (that they have come to expect or take for granted) we can phrase our response in a non-accusitory but truthful "I'm really sorry but there just isn't enough time to do what we did last year with only 1 conference period this year."

A teacher spoke to the board and had the statistics and breakdown of how he spent his conference time. It was great!

When the Southern Association of Colleges gets wind of this I can't help but wonder if our school's accreditation comes into question.

Lets start listing those things we do during our conference time. Things like:

Prepare for between 1 and 3 classes/labs.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Meeting With District Representatives: Report

Got this from "Carla" - apparently on the "Front Lines"
post-worthy indeed
hope you don't mind my edits CC

"I'd like to share some info from a meeting held with the superintendent's "reps"...cause you know... it would be impossible for the woman to represent herself!
The 300 mins was placed in our contract back in 1985. Back then, classes were 60 mins not 50 mins. Well you do the math... 60 x 5 gives your 300 mins! It has been explained to me that in 1985 the union (
association) decided to use the "minutes" terminology instead of period terminology because they were fearful that the district would try to increase the minutes of the period therefore shafting the teachers. No one every thought the district would be stupid enough to increase the 5 periods! We discussed this with the "reps" and a teacher who used to work in Pasco suggested the 5/6 plan that Pasco is using. This keeps the 50 mins for the students and it keeps the 5 periods for us. The response from the district "rep" was... uhhh... well in today's educational society there are too many students taking intensive reading and math classes and because of that all of your electives would be virtually wiped out!
Well the reality is... most intensive reading and math students don't have a large impact on academic elective enrollment anyways!! Certainly not AP electives and honors electives. Perhaps we could look more into what is going on in Pasco and find out more details as a possible solution?

Another teacher asked the district "rep" what other counties around the state where doing since we all have budget problems. There response was... uhhh... well we haven't had much time yet to do the research however we know that the Pasco schedule is not an option and that you wouldn't be happy teaching there!!!
If you have contacts with other teachers in other districts I think it would be useful to start talking with them to find out what's going on in their district."

Once again it is apparent that no one is thinking this through. I'd like to hear from Sam Whitten - the District's statistics guru- after he's looked for any correlation between time in class and grade improvement. Can we look at the stats from 1985 to the present? Seems to me if time in class were so darned important we'd all be on block scheduling. Can we survey our graduates and ASK them if they would have been happier with more time or less time. Businesses are forever asking me if I was happy with my experience. I can't get my car worked on or buy something from eBay without being asked for feedback.
I find it revealing that the district representative would tell anyone that they wouldn't be happy working in Pasco County. To paraphrase "Cartman": "I'll work where I want!"
Better hope Pasco doesn't get wind of this backhand - it could be their best recruiting tool.
I'm also concerned that nobody has looked around the state for options. Are we that superior? Can it be that we are competing for "bonus money" for implimenting a flawed program first? As my grand-dad used to say "Folla the dolla".

Friday, March 2, 2007


This blog has been designed to give the teachers and employees of the Hillsborough County School District an outlet to vent, rant, and most importantly share information and suggestions about Superintendent Elia's plan to increase the number of teaching periods from 5 to 6 periods a day.

We are not under the constraints of our school board's 2 minute warning. We are not under the constraints of the district's email guidelines and its interpretations.

Your use of an electronic mail account constitutes your agreement that you will not:
* Violate the conditions of the Education Code dealing with student rights to privacy.
* Use profanity, obscenity, or other language that may be offensive to another user.
* Use District Email for personal, political or editorial uses.

* Use District Email for financial gain or for any commercial or activities legal or illegal.
* Copy commercial software or other copyright protected material in violation of copyright laws.
The District reserves the right to terminate any account, which it believes, in its sole discretion, is transmitting SPAM and unauthorized bulk Email. The District considers SPAM and unsolicited bulk e-mail a serious misuse of District resources. Infractions will be reported to Professional Standards.

We will display a professional and unemotional resistance to this attempt at forcing an ill-advised change upon us. We will offer thoughtful solutions and alternatives to this $28 million dollar+ albatross that is being hung around our neck. We will post legal and workable ideas for a district who is ignoring the input of its employees. A district that can't get the buses to show up on time and call in expensive consultants when all they really needed was to ask the drivers! SDHsheesh! (can't take credit for that one). When the district's workload gets unmanageable THEY hire more support staff. Ever walk through the upsidedown pyramid? Notice departments being moved to other buildings?

We will - above all - display a political strength that this district has not seen since the 60's! An election is on the horizon, the anger that seethes among us will be a POSITIVE driving force.

Don't expect CTA to do anything. They want your membership dollars FIRST. There is no guarantee they'll grow 'nads for us. Quite frankly, management loves it when labor argues among themselves so let's focus on MANAGEMENT. There is time enough for the association- unless you know "something" about any collusion. ;>/

This is the teacher's lounge, the hallway, or the mail room. Throw your ideas against "The Wall". Sign you name or not: speak out!

"All in all we're NOT another brick in the wall". Pass this address around.