Saturday, May 17, 2008


That about says it all - since February.

The comment about "hitting the wall" is revealing. So is the drop off in the number of posts. I suspect everyone who has struggled to do the job right is feeling the same: Amy Winehouse meets Jose Canseco at a Homeland Security checkpoint..

I know 4 teachers who have accepted or are considering offers from the corporate/private sector. Good teachers. Better money. I wish them the best.

Gathering, verifying, and documenting information can be seriously demoralizing. Compartmentalizing is an effective defense - when it works. If Suzie continues teaching, pacing myself will be paramount. Mediocrity will most likely be the result. Something we must learn to accept.

Speaking of accepting mediocrity, as we come up on graduation season I will ask you to report on the performance of the board members. I attended a Jack Lamb appearance where he had no idea what school was graduating.

In the meantime, don't forget about commenting about those hard-to-work-with principals.


Anonymous said...

Let's not forget that Lamb welcomed the graduating class of 2000 at the 2008 Freedom HS graduation exercise. The Sun Dome burst out in laughter when he said that.

At the first Freedom graduation, he welcomed Wharton graduates. Twice.

Ummm...Jack...Wharton is that other high school in New Tampa.

Is he really fit to serve?

Anonymous said...

Check out Lee's blog:

The local chapter of Kappa Delta Pi named Mr Lamb its "Educator of the Year"

Her commentary will have you rolling on the ground laughing.

The world has turned upside down.


Anonymous said...

Running on Empty

I received my worst evaluation in 14 years. Last year I was outstanding and qualified for MAP money, this year, I am overall NI.

What has changed. Have I deteriorated THAT fast? Perhaps but I think the real reason is that my principal decided she didn't like my speaking out. Was offended when I refused to wear a tool belt and hard had (the school theme was "constructing the future" or some such nonsense) on my first day with students. I wore a shirt and tie instead.

I know you think I am making this up. On my father's grave it is true.

Then I wrote her asking that she change several ratings. Her bias and manipulation of the evaluation process were transparent. She flat out refused to even meet with. Then she had the nerve to hug me in full view of the faculty.

Yes, I know you think I am making this up.

It is all true and in the record. Since she refused my request to meet, I sent her an email. In it I asked her to never touch me again, that her hug made me uncomfortable.

Want to guess how my day will be on Monday? Wonder why my blood pressure is through the roof?

Lee DeCeaser thinks I should CC all the documentation to every board member, Ms. Elia and the Governor. I think she's right but I am afraid. I am less and less afraid these days and I guess soon they will force my hand. so for now, its still .....

Pray for me.


cable guy said...

What is this? Sesame street?

Too bad you didn't dress as a painter and promote "covering up the flaws" or "glossing over reality".

Maybe as a judge? "the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth".

The saving grace is always a new year at a different school.

Anonymous said...

I've got THE theme! Let's all dress in camo with "FACULTY" printed on the fronts of our T's...
Thanks, Suzie for letting us know you're still there--somewhat. It's only days, folks...

David--we're praying. Yuk--from your stories, I'd rather cozy up to a snake!

twinkobie said...

April, as one of your original supporters, I ask this question:

Why have you waited until Elia has adopeted the Spring program to suggest a workshop with teachers in attendance?

What good does it do that a board member sets up a wordshop on the Spring after Elia has imposed it on teachers?

What does this tardy and thus infectual move do since Elia has signed the contract for the Spring? Do you think the teachers and members of the public are so stupid that this better-late-than-never move will propitiate them into believeing you are on the teachers' and students' side?

The teachers and students of HC School District have been left out once again, and this late, grandstanding effort by you does little good except to make it look as if you tardily have the teachers' and students' welfare in mind, which you don't or you would have insisted on the workshop before Elia signed on the dotted line.

This is sham leadership, April. Both you and Susan should be ashamed of yourselves for pretendeing to have teachers' and students' welfare in mind when you pull off the too-late workshop scam. Shame! Shame!

I would never have supported your election had I known you were such an operator of the usual stripe when it came to the good of the students and the teachers.

What a disappointment you and Susan are to me.

lee drury de cesare

Anonymous said...

Guess what, who is going to come into our rooms to be sure we do Spring? I plan on taking what I like and leaving the rest behind. It isn't in the contract, so I will be protected.

If they go after me in other ways, like ruining my file or evaluation, I will bombard their pathetic efforts with a ridiculous amount of documentation through student surveys on my effective teaching, parent emails that proves my communication, detailed lesson plans, calendars, past recognitions, print outs of my website, etc.

I am not going to roll over. If that doesn't work, I will leave because I won't do what I know isn't best for my kids. If we all do the same thing, we can kill Spring ourselves. Not doing so is being complacent, and the kids will pay.

Not to be melodramatic, but team players are never remembered. Martin Luther King wasn't one... Ben Franklin wasn't one, Abe Lincoln didn't follow blindly and neither did Mother Teresa... All these greats thought for themselves and put others first with their genuine interest for bettering humankind. I intended to do this for and through my classroom.

Anonymous said...

Well said. I do have some reservations about one thing.

The contract.

Tenure is supposed to protect us from attacks on academic freedom but wha protection do we really have when a capricious principal can hammer you on your evaluation, based on selective documentation. I was was slammed on the section pertaining to lesson plans. At my principals insistence I submitted lesson plans for 3 months. Despite the fact I asked for feedback, I was given none and then marked down because me lesson plans were deficient. Paradoxically, I submitted them last year as well (requiring that lesson plans be submitted is favorite form of punishment) and while the were the same plans, I received a satisfactory rating. My point is, there seems to be no protection against the manipulation of evaluations to punish, not help employees. There are numerous other examples of this which I cited in my rebuttal to her. Her response was to tell me that she wouldnt discuss them. She has been advised that an employee cant grieve an evaluation.

The problem with this is, after 2 overall "NI" evaluations, the employee is not entitled to a step raise.

What good is tenure, or the contract for that matter, if the evaluation process can be used as a tool for punishment of teachers the principal doesn't like?

The guy at the CTA told me that he felt I had a grievable action based on the lack of feedback and some clear misinterpretations of the language on the evaluation that she used to mark me down. This principal doesnt even understand some of the indicators she is supposed to evaluate me on. I hope he is right, not so much for me but for every other teacher who dares to stand up and tell the truth.

If I did nothing, my next evaluation would have been the same and I would be in a position where I would get no more raises. I did not decide to fight this because I like conflict. I honestly dont but I truly felt I had nothing to lose. If I kept quiet, I would be run over, if I spoke up, the same may happen but at least I will go down fighting.

I am far from perfect. There are some areas on my evaluation that I know were accurate but they had nothing to do with my teaching proficiency.

I hope the contract supports us because if it doesn't protect us from capricious principals, this will get around and will have a chilling effect on all of us who care about this profession, intellectual honesty and the children we care for.

I have worked for some of the best principals in the district. I have always been outspoken but my previous supervisors respected me and were secure enough within themselves to take my occasional criticism. They had my respect and I had theirs.

Thanks Ms.Creamcheese for giving me this venue to speak.

Thanks Lee for your support.

Thank you all for your prayers.


Anonymous said...

You are quite a guy-- I admire you. That being said--document--document--document!!!
You are getting the prayers!

Anonymous said...

10th grade FCAT Writing scores are out, and every single high school in the county dropped by an average of about 6-10 percent in just one year, except three of the most affluent schools, which only increased by 1 tiny percent... Gee, could the 6/7 that has been forced on teachers and the kids be the reason? It's the only marked change that we all have in common... Maybe the news should report on this…

Anonymous said...

Got a link to the FCAT scores?

Anonymous said...

My daughter, a recent ed /math major, isn't even interviewing in Hillsborough. She's driving to Pasco.

Oh, yeah--how can we find those FCAT scores?

April Griffin said...

Suzie Creamcheese,

I posted a response to David, May 17, 2008 11:36 PM yesterday asking him to contact me at so I can talk to him about his situatiom. Did it fall through the cracks?

Thank you, April Griffin

Anonymous said...

I wish her luck in Pasco. I love teaching and I am very good at it but I am going to leave about 5 years before I had planned. As I look out over my students these last few days I feel an incredible sadness. Over the last 14 years my students have given me much more than I have given them. 7 years ago, my dad dies. The morning my mom called to tell me that she awoke to find him dead, I went into work. I never hid mu dad's serious illness from them so I told them what had happened. I was more touched than you will ever know by the outpouring of love and genuine human concern by my little 12 year olds.

I am going to miss this. I am so angry that a very small woman and her vindictiveness is forcing me, for the sake of my sanity and health, to give this all up.

Your daughter is going to enter a field in terrible flux but if she sticks with it, she will discover something wonderful.


Anonymous said...


Click on this link ( then click "school level", then "Hillsborough", then select 2007 and 2008 for comparision, then select grade 10, select Writing+...

Then you will be brought to a new page, click on "Achievement Level 3 and Above Data (3.5 and above for Writing+)" and then "Select all schools listed".

You will find the results there...

Sisyphus - The Rock that Keeps on Rolling... said...

I have not been blogging much this year. I have too much going on in my personal life as well as trying to manage things at school. I have to make priorities.

Hard to believe the year is about over. I completed an evaluation/feedback survey to my supervisor. Under what were this year's positives...1) I learned to accept that things got done, and not feel bad that it was so much less than the job I used to do. 2)I learned to delegate more, and 3) I learned to say "NO" to so many above and beyond demands.

Hard to keep one's head above the surf when we live in such "exponential times".

Anonymous said...

We had lunch "discussions" to go over nexr year's schedules and double check on carpools and Springboard classes. We had in our group AP, Honors and Regular teachers, as well as several Reading teachers. As usual, when Springboard is discussed, we got to the same point--- those that will go to college will continue to do so and attend appropriate classes in high school. Those that won't will have even less options than before----don't know about you guys, but we're worried that our supply of mechanics, plumbers, handymen, a/c repairmen and so on are going to be dropping out, or going to be baggers at grocery stores. There are few, if any high schools that teach these skills. We are wondering why--especially since these indespensible often make more than we do, since they receive pay for each hour worked ! Thoughts, anyone???

Anonymous said...


Refuse to attend the summer training. They cant force you to attend. Let them send you during the school year and get your colleagues to cover for you. Please dont worry about them. We need to shut down the silly "comp time for covering classes" scam too. If enoough teachers are forced to cover classes and lose instructional momentum, maybe things will change. We simply HAVE to stop helping them put band aids on the problems.

The program will be difficult to implement if you don't give them your summer for training. I have heard that they will pay you your salary for the training but isn't your time off valuable to you?

Dont go. Make them pay more to get you there AND buy the sub. Of course they don't need to buy subs anymore since we are now awarded worthless comp time for covering classes.

Comp time. Now isn't that a big time scam? They might as well give us pieces of paper with the superintendents picture on it and call them "Elia dollars". Just when are you going to use comp time? Think about it.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the encouraging words for my daughter--especially in light of your situation. Are you sure you just don't want to get the heck outta Dodge? I do think my daughter has a good handle--after all--she has observed her mom over the years give until there was no more, fall asleep on the couch with papers--then help grade those same papers---call parents on weekends, answer emails and phine calls from kids in emergency situations, etc. I have cautioned her to keep things in balance-- I hope she does what I said--not what I did. Our students still need young idealists-- I hope this isn't going to be a sacrifice greater than the rewards. Continued best wishes and prayers to you.


Suzie Creamcheese said...


I don't remember seeing your post but I'll do some digging. Thanks for the follow up.

Hey DAVID? Please write April!

Suzie Creamcheese said...

For those of you with C.R.S. wanting an easy way to the FCAT comparisons:

FCAT Shortcut, then hit the "continue" button at the bottom of the page.

From my viewpoint our teachers can NOT be held responsible or accountable for this decline.

All year I have witnessed extraordinary efforts by those I work with.

I know that most of those same teachers will take this personally no matter what anyone says. It is in their DNA.
Personally, I am going "on vacation" from all things school-site related.

The "NO Vacancy" sign will be ON, the phone machine will be OFF, maybe a sign "gone fishing" or "battery charging" best describes it.

BTW: Who's bright idea was it to ask us to come back to the new school year on a Friday?!! Last year's Friday opening was the most inefficient start up day I've experienced.

virgin cynic said...

I think a better snapshot of FCAT writing scores might be to compare the 10th Grade 2008 scores with the 8th Grade 2006 scores.

That way we can look at any 2 year improvement with the same kids. (I know, not exactly but at least it allows us to evaluate the "same" kids over 2 years).

Unfortunately it is very difficult to do with the way the state has the scores set up.

Maybe Dr. Hildebrand can do it. After all it isn't a "biased" survey we're dealing with.

Suzie Creamcheese said...

For those of you with C.R.S. and want an easy way to the FCAT comparisons:

FCAT Shortcut, select "Achievement Level 3 and Above Data (3.5 and above for Writing+)" and then "Select all schools listed". then hit the "continue" button at the bottom of the page.

Anonymous said...

By having us return on Friday, they're counting on people taking a personal day or using comp time. That way, the district doesn't have to pay us for it down the road.

My advice: bring a good book or movie, kick back in your classroom and enjoy your last day of Summer Vacation.

Anonymous said...

"Mediocrity will most likely be the result. Something we must learn to accept."

You get what you pay for. All the teachers who take home work are enabling the district to continue taking advantage of us.

Please stop it. For the sake of your students, stop giving away your time. I will tell you this. The new generation of college grads will not put up with the "do it at home" mindset. If we are to find quality replacements for us we need to train the district to compensate us properly and be mindful of what can and cannot be accomplished in an 8 hour day with one conference period.

We can train them by NOT giving away our time. Just stop taking it home.

Let me ask you this. Does your doctor see patients at home after office hours. Of course not. He manages his/her time by spending less time with you.

Is that mediocrity?

No, that is valuing his/her time and remembering that life is more than work. If your students parents don't care enough about their kids education to complain, then why should you worry about it and work for free.

We will never get what we need by politely asking for it, working for free and solving their problem on our backs.

Stop covering their a**es. Respect yourself and they will respect you.


Anonymous said...

David-- I'm taking your advice. 7:15-3:15--and I'm going to comp time every minute I have to go in early, stay late or work through lunch. I also intend to use up that comp time, too.

everyone-- enough is enough-- I'm joining up with the task force. I refuse to let those idiotic bureaucrats and accomplices steal my joy of teaching.

Anonymous said...


I a very happy to hear you are joining us. I think you will feel better about yourself if you refuse to give them your time for free. Once you start down that path, it becomes expected.

I published my name and story on Lee's blog. I am fairly certain my career with the district is finished.

Tuesday I spent an hour with an investigator with Professional Standards. I do not know how people can behave in such mean and vindictive ways.

I will tell you this. Administration does protect its own. When an allegation was made against me 3 years ago, I was judged guilty before the investigation and any exculpatory evidence (an adult witness)was ignored until I hired an attorney. I was kept hidden at the Velasco Center to "protect me" until my lawyer finally called the States Attorney and put him on the line with me. After our conversation, he must have called Professional Standards because I was released soon after.

I made a request that my principal not hug me and Professional Standards is called. The guy at professional Standards( the same one who was so rude to me 3 years earlier) treated me like I was the one being investigated. He actually asked me if I hugged students. I said of course not. Then he asked me if I hugged my brother. I knew I was in big trouble when he took that tack. While I remained quiet as I was instructed, witnesses materialized to claim they didn't see what she did. Case closed.

There are different standards for administrators than teachers. They protect their own.

Everyone needs to read "Death By Education".

virgin cynic said...

Do NOT expect CTA to protect you.

Take the $600+ annual dues and put it in a separate money market account. While it is earning interest for you find a lawyer that specializes in labor law.

Interview him/her and make sure you hold common ground.

Don't touch the money - knowing you're covered.