The future of public education in America is tied to vouchers. The question is whether that's a positive move or just another hollow promise. The purpose of VoucherSchool.com is to educate and inform. The writing on this site is assuming the ultimate goal of those in favor of a "full voucher" system is to provide one voucher per student to be used however the parents of that child want to use it, thus making it full school choice, as well. A system like this has merits and challenges, winners and losers.

Plenty of people will tell you what they want you to believe, using data to back up their assertions. Keep in mind that data is often skewed and is certainly only used when it benefits those doing the writing. With that in mind, we want to develop a website with as many questions as answers, since those who want vouchers and those who want to fight them should be the ones who have answers for you 

 

After viewing hundreds of Wisconsin school district pages, one fact is apparent: school districts are trying to operate with their heads in the sand, avoiding the inevitable. Websites look disorganized and unprofessional, as if the districts are in the process of throwing every idea at the problem, not knowing which one will work. They're forgetting the key to winning a battle for their existence, which is positive public opinion. With websites designed by Passive Ninja, they might have a chance, but with half-developed sites mostly linking to outsourced material, districts are waving the white flag.

The number of businesses already benefiting from outsourcing education is high, but it will likely only rise. As districts lose clout, funding, and effectiveness, private entities will benefit. Educabana is an example of one of these companies, poised to capture opportunities to fill gaps in an underfunded school system. Teachers and students will have a chance to excel, but it might be up to the individual to figure it all out in the future.

As a teacher, as a parent, or as a student, the age of the voucher school is an age of change. If you're not ready, you either must prepare for the change or fight against it. Voucher School is here to give you an idea what might be changing and what you might be able to do about it.

I was finally "onboarded" into Duval County Public Schools roughly three weeks after being "hired" by the district. It took a week to get an interview at the failing (and closing) school. Then it took another week or more to get officially hired, partly due to the fact that I had a Statement of Eligibility rather than a full Florida license. I received a phone call from the secretary on Wednesday of the second week of school that I was good to go on Thursday. No need to come in early and set things up. Just get there by 8am-ish. 

I showed up at 8:05am. I got the quick tour from the principal. Some rules and regulations. Technically, I was asked at some point if I wanted a sub with me for the day, but I was worried that the fact that I was teaching my own lesson might be a problem. This is a strict direct-instruction, follow-the-lesson school, and even though I had received no updates as to where the substitute was in the curriculum, I was still aprehensive about not teaching the lesson plan. 

Back ot that lesson plan thing. I not only received no updates, but I also received a lesson plan tht the sub had been using that did not match with the other English 7 teacher, so I had to decide if I was going to abandon what the sub was doing to join the English team or continue with the sub's plans for two more days. I had not more than a short description that had been printed for the sub, while the other English teacher gave me an extensive plan for the Friday, promising to work with me the next week and into the rest of the year with planning. I decided to do my own thing for one day and then follow the other English 7 class for Friday, hoping I could catch on. 

The sub had also not been informed about the proper way to set up the classroom, as was required by the system in place. I would need to create learning pods with desks, and I was supposed to seat students based on test scores. Of course, as of Day 1, I can't access any student information, take attendance, get test scores, or know any data that I'm supposed to know in order to create these learning groups. I also learned that, as a fully-inclusive school, I have multiple levels and modifications in each of my classes. It's a lot to get you're head around on the first day, especially when there's a lack of access to the information that could possibly help. 

Hour 1 and 2 was a block. I had maybe 15 students, all receiving breakfast. I dropped the ball there and let a student get away with drinking two juices. Lots of naughty stuff already happening in "homeroom" led me to think that it's pretty standard. I felt like a substitute in my own room, even before the day started, partially because I did not grasp how to divy out breakfast. 

My lesson went well for a few minutes, but the students got bored and started talking. They wanted to continue their online worksheets and whatnot. They didn't want to learn about me. It wasn't really their first day, when I normally taught my Day 1 lesson, and side conversations were abundant. Also, lots of touching and stealing. Kicking each others' desks. Middle school stuff. I made the mistake of letting the kids out for a break midway through the block. I thought a break might get them back on task to finish their own short assignment, but all it did was let them wander around a bit in the halls and embarrass me. I felt exhausted and sweaty after the class, wondering if I'd gotten through to anyone. 

My third hour class was made up of fewer than ten students. These students were all fairly bright and in a tracked class of sorts, so the lesson went well. In fact, it went so well that they did not even have time to work on an assignment for me. Just a good discussion. I was then sent to another teacher's room for my next class. I would be a support teacher there. I learned more about how to teach, but I did not get a chance to support the teacher much. We'll have to see how that one works out. My final class was another fairly small group, but here we had a boy and about five girls who had no interest in abandoning their conversations to be part of the class. Even more asking about the online programs and worksheets. 

Wait time, movement, and asking nicely made nor difference in the two classes with students who did not want to listen to me. All my best techniques were debunked. I had seen what works here in the classroom I visited. Yelling and threatening. I am not that teacher, so I tried to make the best of what I am still good at: visuals. I'd luckily uploaded enough photos to my getting-to-know-me activity that I was able to hold some attention for at least part of the last class. Lots of refusal to work until it was time to collect the assignments. 

I get it to some degree. I was, in some ways, just another sub. Would I return? I decided I would, and I told the students that, but I also heard and saw the signs that my stint may be shortened. The school would be closing in one year, but it was still fully-staffed, and it would be draining the school district every day it was open. My class sizes were so low that I knew the operation could run with three English teachers rather than three. And the 10th day headcount was set for Day 2 of my tenure, meaning all kinds of changes might be in store. My goal was to stick it out, and maybe I would be placed at some other school if needed. Maybe another failing school or maybe not. 

In the end, I didn't feel like a total failure my first day back in the classroom. Close, but not total. I learned a lot of what I should have been told two weeks earlier. I made a few connections with students and some valuable contacts on the staff. Mostly, I got back in there in order to see if I could do it. Yes, I was totally set up to fail. I know plenty of teachers who would have turned the keys in after the first day (and the school is better now than it was last year by far). Most of us aren't trained to deal with classes like the ones I met, even if they are small in size. But there were glimmers of hope that I can grasp for the next day, and that's what I decided to do. 

Jacksonville News

New Jax Witty

Articles, reviews, advice, and legitimate research to go along with some back-handed comments. Think of us as Jacksonville's mother-in-law.
  • Does HOA collect police reports for crimes in my neighborhood?
    Someone on Nextdoor was asking this question, and I was tempted to respond that the only thing HOAs collect is money. The real responses to the question ranged from, "It depends on your HOA" to "That's not part of what an HOA does." While I can understand that crime is separate from house paint and green lawns, since crime is the #1 factor in property values, HOAs probably need to DO something when it comes to crime.

    I read that in a town in the Southwest, an HOA was being sued because a house that had been deemed a nuisance was not foreclosed on, resulting in a child being killed in a drive-by shooting meant for the residents of the nuisance house. I agree with the people bringing the lawsuit. If the HOA's sole purpose is to maintain property values, then people who bring crime to the neighborhood should be forced out, just like someone who might never mow the grass or  pay HOA dues. 

    When one of our neighbors brought two violent incidents to our block, I wrote to my HOA and to the owner of the rented house. I mentioned the lawsuit above to the HOA, and I told both entities that other neighbors had confirmed to me that the police showed up at the house several times before we'd moved in. I myself had seen a member of the household arrested a couple months before the violence. So three incidents in about four months, and I decided it was time for the family to move on. I never really received much of a response, but the family DID move out within a couple of weeks. Maybe the family realized it was time for a fresh start, but I'd like to think that getting involved helped to push them. However, I also believe the HOA and rental company would have either not known about it or ignored the problem without my letters. 


    Crime, however, is often a result of people from outside of the neighborhood. That crime itself may not be the responsibility of the HOA, but installing a trail camera on a cell phone plan with a solar power battery pack might do the trick to capture trespassers. Any kind of camera, really. See if the police will install one. Even a fake camera might deter one crime. I'd let a wifi camera on my street use my guest wifi, as well, and I assume some of my other neighbors would, too.

    The HOA could go semi-all-out and install an automatic gate without a code, along with a powered camera that stores video. If there's no code, anyone can get into the neighborhood, but it slows people down and ensures everyone entering knows they are on camera. The good news is that the roads are still public and part of the city.  

    Maybe HOA bylaws need to include more about crime and nuisance homes, especially in an area like Jacksonville. Crime is spread out in this town. Maybe back when my HOA was formed in 2004, there was no crime in East Arlington, but that's not the case today. Homeowners need to expect more out of their HOAs, as property value is more about crime than a nice pool and paint color of the houses. 






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  • Jacksonville List of Neighborhoods
    I keep seeing all the Jacksonville neighborhoods as backdrops to maps, but I have yet to see them listed for those of us who like lists. So, after using the government websites to find the GIS maps that contain the neighborhoods, I was able to extract the lists of areas in Jax that appear on maps. It could be useful to those of you who also like lists and deal in real estate or something where you'd need the names of all the neighborhoods here.


    The lists are in alphabetical order by region. Jacksonville is big, so it's divided into six planning zones: A (Arlington and Beaches), N (North), NW (Northwest), SE (Southeast), SW (Southwest), and U (Urban Core). I wanted to make a visual grid map using a table, but it's just so big. Also, I do understand alphabetical, but it would be nice on a map if the letter-number combinations were adjacent, but that's just an opinion, and we're pretty much stuck with alpha order now. I think a couple of names were cut off because of length, but this is a fairly comprehensive neighborhood list for Jacksonville/Duval.

    It's also interesting to note that if Jacksonville ever made the move to un-consolidate, the six zones would be the most likely separate cities.


    A01 Alderman Park
    A02 Arlington
    A03 Arlington Hills
    A04 Arlington Manor
    A05 Arlingtonwood
    A06 Atlantic Blvd. Estate
    A07 Atantic Highlands
    A08 Beachwood
    A09 Beacon Hills & Harbour
    A10 Charter Point
    A11 Clifton
    A12 Cobblestone
    A13 Colony Cove
    A14 East Arlington
    A15 Empire Point
    A16 Fara Ways Forrest
    A17 Fort Caroline Shores
    A18 Gilmore
    A19 Girvin
    A20 Glynea/Grove Park
    A21 Golden Glades/The Woods
    A22 Hidden Hills
    A23 Hogan
    A24 Holiday Harbors
    A25 Holiday Hill/Century
    A26 Holly Oaks
    A27 Lake Lucina
    A28 Love Grove/Riviera Ma
    A29 Mayport
    A30 Monterey
    A31 North Beach
    A32 Oak Haven
    A33 Park Ridge
    A34 Regency
    A35 St. Johns Bluff
    A36 St. Nicholas
    A37 Sandlewood
    A38 Southside Estates
    A39 Spring Glen
    A40 University Park
    A41 Woodland Acrea
    A42 Woodmere
    Atlantic Beach
    Baldwin
    Jacksonville Beach
    N01 Biscayne
    N02 Biscayne Terrace
    N03 Black Hammock Island
    N04 Blount Island
    N05 Brown Island
    N06 College Park
    N07 Copper Hill
    N08 Dinsmore
    N09 Duval
    N10 Eagle Bend
    N11 East Point
    N12 Forrest Trails
    N13 Fort George Island
    N14 Garden City
    N15 Highlands
    N16 Hollyford
    N17 Imeson Park
    N18 Jax. North Estates
    N19 Jamestown
    N20 Little Marsh Hill
    N21 New Berlin
    N22 North New Berlin
    N23 North Lake
    N24 Oceanway
    N25 Pecan
    N26 Pumpkin Hill
    N27 San Mateo
    N28 The Cape
    N29 Turtle Creek
    Neptune Beach
    NW01 Allendale
    NW02 Biltmore
    NW03 Bulls Bay
    NW04 Carver Manor
    NW05 Cisco Gardens
    NW06 College Gardens
    NW07 Commonwealth
    NW08 Crystal Springs
    NW09 Edgewood
    NW10 Edgewood Manor
    NW11 Grand Park
    NW12 Harborview
    NW13 Lackawanna
    NW14 Lake Forrest
    NW15 Lake Forrest Hills
    NW16 Lincoln Hills
    NW17 Magnolia Gardens
    NW18 Marrietta
    NW19 Mixon Town
    NW20 Murray Hill
    NW21 New Town
    NW22 Normandy
    NW23 Normandy Estates
    NW24 Normandy Village
    NW25 Osceola Forrest
    NW26 Panama Park
    NW27 Paxton
    NW28 Picketville
    NW29 Ribault
    NW30 Riverside
    NW31 Riverview
    NW32 Robinsons Addition
    NW33 Rolling Hills
    NW34 Royal Terrace
    NW35 Sherwood Forrest
    NW36 Tallulah/ North Shore
    NW37 Whitehouse
    NW38 Woodstock
    NW39 45th & Moncrief
    SE01 Arrowhead
    SE02 Avenues
    SE03 Bayard
    SE04 Baymeadows
    SE05 Baymeadows Center
    SE06 Beach Haven
    SE07 Beauclec
    SE08 Bowden
    SE09 Brackridge
    SE10 Briarwood
    SE11 Craven
    SE12 Deercreek
    SE13 Deerwood
    SE14 Deerwood Center
    SE15 Del Rio
    SE16 Englewood
    SE17 Goodbys Creek
    SE18 Greenfield Monor
    SE19 Greenland
    SE20 Isle of Palms
    SE21 Julington Creek
    SE22 Kilarney Shores
    SE23 Lakewood
    SE24 Loretto
    SE25 Mandarin
    SE26 Mandarin Station
    SE27 Miramer
    SE28 Monclair
    SE29 Pickwick Park
    SE30 Pine Forrest
    SE31 Royal Lakes
    SE32 San Jose
    SE33 San Jose Forrest
    SE34 San Marco
    SE35 Sans Pareil
    SE36 Sans Souci
    SE37 Secret Cove
    SE38 South Riverside
    SE39 South Point
    SE40 Southwood
    SE41 Spring Park
    SE42 Sunbeam
    SE43 Tiger Hole/ Secret Wo
    SE44 Windy Hill
    SW01 Argyle Forrest
    SW02 Avondale
    SW03 Cedar Hills
    SW04 Cedar Hills Estates
    SW05 Chimmey Lakes
    SW06 Confederate Point
    SW07 Duclay
    SW08 Duclay Forest
    SW09 Fairfax
    SW10 Herlong
    SW11 Hillcrest
    SW12 Hyde park
    SW13 Jacksonville Farms/Te
    SW14 Jacksonville Heights
    SW16 Jax Heights West
    SW17 Jax Naval Air Station
    SW18 Lakeshore
    SW19 Maxville
    SW20 McGirts Creek
    SW21 Normandy Manor
    SW22 Oak Hill
    SW23 Ortega
    SW24 Ortega Farms
    SW25 Ortega Forest
    SW26 Ortega Hills
    SW27 Otis
    SW28 Settlers Landing
    SW29 Sweetwater
    SW30 Venetia
    SW31 Wesconnett
    SW32 Yukon
    U01 Brentwood
    U02 Brooklyn
    U03 Downtown Jacksonville
    U04 East Jacksonville
    U05 Fairfield
    U06 Hogans Creek
    U07 LaVilla
    U08 Longbranch
    U09 Midtown
    U10 Mid Westside
    U11 Moncrief
    U12 Phoenix
    U13 Springfield
    U14 Southside
    U15 Tallyrand
    U16 29th & Chase

    Search New Jax Witty

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    Thanks for reading. See more of my content:

    Satisfamily - Articles about being happy as a family
    Passive Ninja - Web Design in Jacksonville
    McNewsy - Creative Writing
    Educabana - Educational Resources
    Brave New Church - Church Website Design
    Voucher School - Pros and Cons of School Vouchers
    Luthernet - Web Design for Lutheran Churches
    Sitcom Life Lessons - What we've learned from sitcoms
    Mancrush Fanclub - Why not?
    Epic Folktale - Stories of the unknown
    Wild West Allis - Every story ever told about one place
    Educabana on Teachers Pay Teachers (mostly ELA lessons)
    Real Wisconsin News - Satire from Wisconsin
    Zoo Interchange Milwaukee - Community website
    Chromebook Covers - Reviews and opinions

    Brian Jaeger - Resume (I'm always interested)

    Contact Me