Monday, February 25, 2008


According to a press release posted on Lee's blog, the Florida Bar has agreed to investigate an ethics complaint she filed against School Board Attorney Tom (The Gonz) Gonzalez.

There is a link to the right, under "Link Awray" that will take you to the "Casting Room Couch."

Click here for details and more information.

"Your inquiry concerning the conduct of the above member of the Bar has been analyzed and has been determined to be a matter which warrants further investigation." - from the letter to Lee.

Frankly, some members of the Board and staff have really ignored social graces, protocol, and courtesy in dealing with Lee. I believe the phrase "hoisted on their own petard" is appropriate.

This is major folks.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Actually this opens the door for us to hire people to grade our students' work! Since the state approves of it's contractors using GraigsList to hire FCAT graders of questionable background, I must assume that now we can "subcontract" for our own student's evaluation.

Imagine "hiring" USF and HCC students to do this tedious work while we concentrate on our parent phone calls and lesson plans! Maybe we can convince the courts to allow this activity as an approved "community service" requirement for low level offenders. Of course I would expect the fine folks at ROSSAC to keep a list of "approved graders."

On a more serious note, is anyone surprised by this revelation? A state that refuses to fund their mandates, a state the just can't get it's funding done, a state whose politicians (all affiliations) refuse to address the core reasons for the state's problems can't be expected to seriously attend to the grading of a high-stakes test. Our kids rate a $10.00/hr. future! Those of us in the profession realize what a tenuous position this puts everyone in.

The Superintendent is merely following the Governor's lead (Springboard, ScamTron, Grade "Curve", etc.) in so many ways.

Should we follow?

Note: For our new readers, an underlined blue word is known as a link. Clicking on it will take you to another web page.
Thanks to The Gradebook blog for digging this out.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


School Board Chairwoman Makes Name-Dropping Rule

TAMPA - Hillsborough County School Board chairwoman Jennifer Faliero announced at Tuesday's meeting that speakers coming before the board "will be called out of order if you use anyone's name."

One regular speaker, Lee DeCesare, suggested the board should check with its attorney, saying the decree violates the right to free speech.

When DeCesare later named a teacher she said had been wronged by a principal for speaking out, Faliero banged her gavel and told her, "You are out of order."

Faliero then directed district security Chief Dave Friedberg to escort DeCesare out of the room.

School district spokesman Steve Hegarty later said, "That is not a part of the official statement that she reads," adding, "I don't know if that is what she will read the next time."

The board approved the promotion of Pansy Houghton, supervisor of choice technology, to director of student planning and placement.

Marilyn Brown

1) Doug Erwin

2) Marc Hart

3) Davis Island

4) Marc Hart

5) Bart Birdsall

6) Marc Hart

7) Bruce (inaudible)

So Hagerty knew about it, Freidberg knew about it, Gonzalez (Gonzie) heard it and yet none of these officials had the balls to tell the Chairwoman there was a First Amendment "problem"?

Is there any testosterone left in the room?


Pansy Houghton was formerly employed by E.T.S. (Electronic Testing Services) but has worked with HCPS since 2000-2001 at least! So let's not rejoice in the hiring of an OUTSIDER!!!!

Is Pansy Dubose Houghton related to Renalia (Renee) Dubose, former head of Staff Development?

Consider the implications of someone whose background is BigED multiple choice, bubble-in, computerized grading.

"Software Review" by Lee Schroeder and Pansy Houghton

Schroeder and Houghton discuss a product that allows for in-house design and printing of double-sided, scannable forms.

"Software Review" by Lee Schroeder and Pansy Houghton

Schroeder and Houghton discuss software that can be used to manage bands of examination questions. Their focus is on software that can be used to ensure that duplicate or very similar items are not unknowingly included in the item bank.

"Software Review" by Lee Schroeder and Pansy Houghton

Schroeder and Houghton discuss the strengths and weaknesses of introducing technology to reduce or even substitute for the need to have face-to-face meetings to review test questions. The column describes the use of a modem to conduct a conference over a single telephone line that shares voice and computer data simultaneously.

"Software Review" by Lee Schroeder and Pansy Dubose Houghton

Lee Schroeder's column applies his criteria for evaluating an item-banking system (published in a previous CERcolumn) to two item-banking systems that were sent to him for review. One of Lee's associates, Pansy Houghton, reviews LXR-Test 5.0 and The Question Bank.

The Scantron CONNECTION!

Is this the same Lee Schroeder of Schroeder Measurement Technologies Inc., 2536 Countryside Blvd., Clear water, FL 34623.

Will Dr. Steele give up the Curve Czar position? He won't HAVE to.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Bill and Melinda Gates join with the College Board to seduce HCPS with money to entice "traditionally underrepresented students into honors and AP classes" under the innocuous title of "The Accelerator Program". Are the kids capable of succeeding or is being "underrepresented" enough.

They saw an increase in attendance and Grade Point average (due, no doubt to "the curve").

Decrease in referrals (hmmmm - submitted? acted on?) due to being challenged! No kidding.

I await the response postings from veteran teachers on this one since the "administration" was anecdotally referenced.

The meetings? When the heck did these folks meet? During their ONE conference?

BIG EDucation has been shown into the classroom - goader's been warning us about it for a while.

Let's look at the College Board numbers, and then how many kids complete college. Will Microsoft provide patches and fixes?

We need bona fide front line thoughts from teachers that are currently in the high school Accelerator program. Does anyone actually know any teacher that worked on this program?

Don't expect me to show up for the summer training - I need to commit to my summer job.

Am I the only one who thinks "somebody" should be investigated for "solicitation"?

Keep this in mind when they come to us to take a pay cut for next year.

Sunday, February 17, 2008



This Memo Of Understanding is 50 pages long.

Page 18 = 7 programs?!
Page 29 = technology requirements!
Page 32 = some participating schools
Page 36 = Coach salary of $129,000 PLUS!!!
Page 39 = ALL participating schools
Page 42 = Price list of Programs and Services
Page 46 = Summer Inservices, etc.
Page 49 = half a mil here, half a mil there...

Agenda Summary


The following was taken from Lee's most recent posting. Keep this in mind since transfer season is around the bend.

"It was nice to see your e-mail, and to know that you are still fighting for our students. Teacher morale is lower than I can remember in my 23 years of teaching, and many great educators have quit the system rather than put up with the exploitation. It seems the only hope we have is to change the board, for our superintendent gets little resistance from the present group. Some well placed reporting on the issues raised in your note would help shake things up a bit. I will be more than happy to discuss the issues with any interested reporters. Keep in touch.

By the way, I was punished severely for speaking out. I lost my dual enrollment classes and was given regular level world history to teach. I taught honors level for 16 years, but those classes were given to first and second year teachers who were more cooperative with our administration. Many others were punished as well. It has been a rough year, but we will get through it with our dignity intact. Since the arrival of our present APC dual enrollment has shrunk to one class of Freshman English, whereas we used to have classes in science, social studies, math and English. We do have ten sections of AP Human Geography, though, for ninth graders. Remember, Ms. Elia’s bonus money in part comes from the numbers enrolled in AP, not how many actually pass the test."

From a comment in "The O'REALLY FACTOR":

"Marc Hutek at Armwood has been subtly threatening and bullying teachers. He has specifically warned young teachers to avoid certain older faculty members, i.e. those who have been outspoken about the 6/7 plan. He says the lunch tables are "poison" because of the malicious and false materials he says is spread there. He even gave a negative oral evaluation to the APC at Riverview about a teacher who was interviewing there for a job, calling her "high maintenance" and "uncooperative." By the way, Riverview hired her anyway, so kudos to that APC. He has mentioned teachers who he considers unprofessional BY NAME during the spring evaluations of other teachers. I can't think of anything more UNPROFESSIONAL than that. He wrote a teacher appreciation letter to the staff thanking us for our "loyalty" to HIM and follows it up with a threat that we'd better be standing at our doors during passing because if something happens out there, we could be held legally liable!!! (BTW -- is that true?) He's a pure joke to a majority of the staff, but since he can make life miserable, we play the game enough to get by. We hope to outlast him since he's upwardly mobile, but it isn't easy. We've lost at least 4 excellent teachers to other schools so far."

True Colors: more than a Cindy Lauper song.

I will soon be publishing a post for everyone to publish a "heads up" about the schools they are currently working in. This future post will provide an opportunity for you to single out schools who have administrations that are "less than desirable" to work for, much like the Marc Hutek comment above.

It is your opportunity to do what no one
anywhere else will allow you : WARN US WHO NOT TO WORK FOR and WHY.

Watch for it. Post to it. Pass it around.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


OK, so exactly WHAT was the purpose behind this teacher absences report?

Here's what I got:

1) You get what you pay for.
2) You get more than you pay for if you tap into and exploit "professional pride".
3) Teachers are allowed sick days.
4) Teachers maximize their allowed sick days by hanging on until Friday.
5) You had to be told that an absent teacher affects student performance.
6) Low scoring (C & D) schools have higher teacher absenteeism - but didn't take into account the stress and burnout factor associated with any student population.
7) No mention of Hillsborough County's sneaky teach-an-extra-period trick.
8) The ONLY interviews that made the tape were veteran teachers. No interviews of the rookie teacher who is probably using up their sick time because they are reeling from the experience and are not returning to teaching next year.
9) No mention of contributing environmental factors like a room full of sick kids who want to exempt exams, marginal air quality, unreasonable time and workload demands, and the general malaise that sets in once you realize nobody in positions to change what is happening really gives a sh!t enough to do it.
10) If this were a student report it would get a county-curved "D" from any of the high school English teachers I know.

Oh, by the way:

Hillsborough's union represents 14,815 teachers* and 853 substitutes were called.

That gives Hillsborough a
94.3% attendance rate or a 5.7% absence rate on the WORST day.

Pure FCAT math - no curve.
I'm sure my trusty readers will correct any math mess ups..

(*last numbers published in the local papers)

Conclusion: A shallow attempt at something. Reflective of a medium in distress. They don't read blogs.

Friday, February 8, 2008


Looks like the Board dragged "The Gonz", kicking and screaming, to admitting he linguistically avoided making a promise to provide a "Know Your Rights" brochure to all employees who face a trip to "Professional Standards".

Boy, did he NOT want to write that letter to Bart Birdsall.

Conclusion: If you are exonerated of any wrong doing, heck, if there is not even enough evidence to support a charge, you will NOT receive any documentation that you are cleared!
Time for a specific policy change.
Come on Gonzie would it be so hard to consider the PR of such a letter? Have you become so insulated and calloused by your profession that you forgot what a little "mercy" will do for the spirit? Where you too busy taking notes to hear the public perception reflected in the PTSA president that spoke?

First time in a while I cheered for Ms. Valdez.

By the way: the blogs wouldn't be necessary or so successful (as evidenced by the District blocking it and blogs being referenced at board meetings and in the media) if employees thought they were getting a fair break and were without fear of retribution (Doug Erwin).

Nice touch, supporting your CTA adversary. Talk about questionable representation!

For my perspective: Any employee needs to have an out-of-county labor attorney in mind just in case they need one.

To that end: Any Out-of-County Law Firm is welcome to post their contact information here.

Ms. Faliero's "make your point" to Ms. Griffin showed just how deeply she feels the heat over recent events. Or the veneer is cracking. Not even Mr. Lamb's whispering could quell her urgency to adjourn. Note that the chair has never said that to ANYONE else. Could Ms Faliero have been "hurrying" to confer with her mentor and come up with a response for defining "personal attacks"? Maybe she just couldn't hold "it" much longer.

Ms. Griffin HAS a point: there are systemic problems that need to be addressed. Next time "Sheryl" crosses THAT line "Chrissie" needs to reach back, open up a guitar case and pull out a Tele.
"Its Only Rock and Roll"

Maybe I'll send her a "prop" for just that occasion.

What's really bad is I just realized I wasn't sure if Ms. Kurdell was there or not.

All this took place in the last hour: public comments. Stream 'n' Scream!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


14 counties facing penalties after School Board vote

Some school districts are facing penalties for having schools that don't meet class size requirements after State Board of Education rulings Monday. Money will be transferred out of each school district's operational budget and into capital outlay for such things as building more classrooms. County school districts with at least one noncomplying school and the amounts they face losing from their operating budgets include:

Alachua, $5,090
Duval, $65,263
Escambia, $11,509
Franklin, $4,267
Hardee, $19,967
Lee, $27,716
Leon, $13,249
Manatee, $100,625
Marion, $257
Orange, $26,213
Osceola, $94,095
Polk, $6,462
Putnam, $6,287
Volusia, $28,666

Source: State Department of Education


Did we really have to teach the additional period?

Could we afford these "fines" to keep morale at an acceptable level?

How did our teaching the extra period benefit the district?

Could the fine have been paid by the superintendent's "bonus"?


Tampa Tribune, September 2nd 2007

"Clements, however said her union, which has about 7,000 members, is loosely affiliated with the labor group and often differs in its endorsements."

Tampa Tribune

"Hillsborough's union represents 14,815 teachers...."

Would you have given the district $100.00 to pay the fine and keep your conference period?

That's a $1,481,500.00 fund. And if Gretchen Saunders puts it an interest bearing account it could grow and continue to cover the fines.

It can't be this simple, or obvious.

Monday, February 4, 2008


A string of comments in the previous posting revealed a rather insidious direction taken by the district. Whether on purpose or by accident it reeks of creepy.

Springboard, a College Board product, has been put on fast-track. Please hit the link and check out the curriculum info. Shades of "Voyages".

Teachers drained from teaching extra period.
Some start to show strain. Absenteeism rises.
Substitute teacher pool unable to cover absent teachers.
Teachers must now cover class for absent coworkers, leading to burn out and additional absences.
District takes control of exam grades via district enforced curve.
Springboard, a program of prepackaged lesson plans, resources, and tests makes its appearance for the English, Math curriculum.

Will the teacher component be marginalized?

Now to the abbreviated comments:

***"...Any wonder moral is so low? And with Springboard coming, most of the math and English teachers aren't really pushing their own curriculum much. Might as well just teach the semester exam along with FCAT and make us all "look" good. Of course the students will suffer, but "they" stopped caring about what the students really need long ago."

***"The SpringBoard instructional system combines rigorous course work with assessment and professional development in five synergistic components. Each course centers on classroom-tested Model Instructional Units that prepare students for AP® and college-level work.
Sounds like SRA for high school."

***"With SpringBoard... we won't need college educated individuals anymore... just really great trained monkeys... Is this what we want to do to our teachers and students??????"

***"Hey just think (we won't have to think) no making up lesson plans, or adjusting presentations, or updating supporting info, etc.
No explaining methods to parents, just refer them to the APC or the college board.
There is an UP side to this: we can actually get our conference stuff done during our one measley conference!!!!
New hires won't have to be vetted because anyone can "sleepwalk" thru it.
The teacher crisis will be over because anyone can be hired and "covering" classes will be a thing of the past."...

There ya have it. So far.

By the way, Ms. Faliero, we patiently await your resignation.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

WHEN 6 OUT OF 7 = 5 OUT OF 5

From Bob Weinstein's Column "Why Employees Jump Ship ".

"Gregory P. Smith, author of "Here Today, Here Tomorrow: Transforming Your Workforce from High-Turnover to High-Retention," says most employees take new jobs because of management problems. He lists five common management mistakes:

1. Demanding that one person do the jobs of two or more people, resulting in longer days and weekend work.

2. Cutting back on administrative help, which forces workers to use their time copying, stapling, collating, filing and performing other clerical duties.

3. Putting a freeze on raises and promotions.

4. Not allowing the rank and file to make decisions or denying them pride of ownership.

5. Constantly reorganizing and changing direction."

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Something is not right about the Plant physics teacher's inappropriate email to a student.

The papers are asking its readers to make too much of a leap in logic on this one:

The school district suspended Plant teacher (name deleted), 22, with pay pending an investigation, Cobbe said. He was hired in September. The district is reviewing his computer to see if the case needs to be reported to law enforcement.

Officials first became aware of accusations against him late Wednesday when an assistant principal saw the female student in a hallway and asked how she was doing, Cobbe said. The student then reported the e-mail."

"how ya doing?" "no, how YOU doing?"

Plant AP's must have a lot of face time for students.

Too bad the guy wasn't a Board member.

Anyone got the goods on this one? How's my intuition?

"...and THE SURVEY says:..."?

It's February.

There are only 4 months left. Not a lot of time left to affect change in time to save your employees or membership.

Whatever happened to
"the survey"?

You know, the one that was supposed to be taken to measure the impact of "substituting" a conference period with a teaching period for no additional money.

Is a curve being generated?

Call me crazy but it took less time to make us teach the extra class!