You came into this article ready to play the race card. We all do. Just like we are all racist to some degree, we are also ready to defend our views as soon as someone mentions race. Even if we don't plan on publicly commenting, we're still ready. Plus, by this point in an article about race, most of us already think we know where the author stands and, therefore, where we'd stand.

The problem is that racism is more of an unknown than you might think when it comes to voucher schools. Classism, too. What you think you know isn't always right, and it's not always what you're arguing (or want to be arguing). Anyhow, here are some examples that might give you an idea why it's as confusing as the last statement to navigate race and class in education. 


As a teacher, I saw the numbers every year in every standardized test. Not only did Bell Curves really exist, but those curves were tied to factors I could not control. However, teachers bought into the initially-progressive idea that the gap could be closed. The learning gap that exists because of whether or not parents went to college or read to their kids could be closed. The learning gap that is so strong that states predict test scores BEFORE schools take them and then question the schools that don't fit neatly can be changed.

Of course, the liberal idea that no child could or should be left behind is an impossibility, but one that only a heartless liberal would SAY is impossible. The only real way for schools to close the gap is for the top students to perform lower and the low students to keep progressing, something we CAN achieve with fully-integrated, non-tracked classrooms that cater to the lowest common denominator. Harsh words? Not at all. People who love data can look this one up, over and over again. Just as Democrats and unions were starting to question whether or not letting a few students slip through the cracks might be better for all (privately, of course), Republicans saw an opportunity.

It was kind of like back in college, when I learned about privatization. I said to my mom, "If you really cared about educating students, you'd take a pay cut if necessary, right?" Of course, she WAS already making more than I'd ever make as a teacher in my twelve years, but that's exactly the opportunity conservatives saw in the learning gap issue: teachers, not parents, are failing kids. Black, white, rich, and poor. The talking points are even more clever than back when I threw my mom under the bus, since it was all a liberal idea to begin with. Don't you believe every child can learn? Aren't you racist/classist if you say some students can't learn the same as others? Since it's measurable, shouldn't your paycheck be based on learning gains?

Most teachers, who are idealists, are stuck when confronted with the race card. It's like someone just told Robo-Cop to negate his prime directive. Their egos might even kick in a bit. Their college EDU classes bounce around in their heads. All those great teachers who went into inner-city schools and turned kids around (and then quit to become college professors). All those Oprah super teachers. All those people who say I'm overpaid and lazy. Plus, I do have summers off...

And that's where it mostly ends. Teachers are in a corner and subdued. They don't come back with, "Does your suburban or private school really want 50% free or reduced lunch-level families? Do you want 20% white kids with the rest being minority? Do you want Muslim voucher schools? Do you really, after all your talk of Waiting for Superman, really want your kids to be equal to other kids? Hell, no, they don't. The reason they can argue the rhetoric is simple: they know it's not going to happen. Their private, suburban school can let 15% minorities in to help fund the new gym. Their students can benefit from being in a "diverse" school. But, above all, their kids will still outperform the ones who are allowed in. Sure, they can feel very patriarchal about the whole thing, providing opportunities and maybe religion to other kids.

And flipping back, it's hard to argue against those opportunities in some way. Disadvantaged and minority students SHOULD learn how to deal with people who have the money if they want to eventually make money. There are only so many community activist jobs and only so much a poverty-stricken community can support on its own. It's kind of like why all these rich parents from China are sending their kids to American schools or why kids all over the globe are learning English.

The truth is there is no magic bullet or Superman when it comes to education. If Blackboard Jungle, Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds, and so many other inspirational movie ideas worked all the time in real life, don't you think we would have bottled the essence and sold the programs to all city schools by now? Don't you think all those super teachers out there would have quit their boring business jobs or hectic military careers to fix our nation's youth, if that's what it would take? No, the unions didn't stop those people from joining. Neither did the Democrats nor the Republicans. They don't really exist, ladies and gentlemen, at least not for thirty years of service. And even if you get a few years out of some crusader, and lives are changed, and more community activists (and a CEO or two) are educated, what then? Are the 1% elite of America going to welcome the nouveau riche with welcoming arms, and do you want them to be welcomed ahead of your own kids? Don't worry, it's not going to be your kids or the up-and-coming minority student from the big city who's going to inherit the Walton billions, so relax, and play the cards you've been dealt.

Jacksonville News

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Articles, reviews, advice, and legitimate research to go along with some back-handed comments. Think of us as Jacksonville's mother-in-law.
  • Only In Florida: Millionaire Stealing From Kmart
    Where else would a guy who owns an $8 million private island and a Real World House decide to steal from Kmart? Nowhere else. Only in Florida. I thought that it was uniquely Florida when three guys walked right into a Walmart and stole the arcade claw machine, loading it into their pickup truck as if they were going to service it. But those guys were probably unemployed or at least poor, so it was just a badly-hatched plan. So was the plan to buy items at Kmart and then return different items in the boxes. But the Kmart plan was devised by a guy with enough capital to purchase an $8 million island, so it's even more odd.

    With how easily the man was caught, I have to assume he was not a career store scammer. There's no way that someone who tries to steal $300 from Kmart (minus the value of the items that were returned in the boxes) has pulled it off enough to become a millionaire.

    Maybe he figured he'd be safe once on his own island. He could use his new Keurig every morning as he watched the sunrise over the ocean. I assume his new island didn't have a basketball court, since that's the item he stuffed into the coffee maker box when it was returned.

    Normally, people who become millionaires don't steal small stuff, unless it's lots of small stuff, like fraudulent billing of patients of your healthcare company. I wonder if this man can plead the 5th and get out of any responsibility for stealing from Kmart. Perhaps that's all it takes to get away with stealing when you're rich; I wouldn't know.

    Anyhow, no man is an island entire of himself. He needs stuff, even if he is technically living on a private island. I suppose the monthly mortgage on an $8 million island might get a little steep. At 20% down on a 30-year loan, the island would run $30,260 a month. That's probably about what an average Kmart sells in a month. I'm kidding, I think. This guy was probably just strapped for cash after having spent over $1.5 million on a down payment, so he needed some necessities, like a Keurig coffee machine.
  • Followed Home in Jacksonville
    A neighbor was recently followed home by a white SUV, and the comments on Nextdoor were all over the place. I think there are several angles to consider here, even though most of the people commenting were fairly single-minded in how they saw the situation.

    Call the Police
    Most reactions were that of calling the police. This was 1:30 in the morning, and a man was being followed all the way to his home, and when the man turned away, he was also followed right up to the point he entered a 24-hour gas station. One comment was to call the police while being followed. That's good advice, so long as you weren't drinking at your friend's house until 1:30, which I have to assume was the case. When the police show up to help you out, the white SUV will be long gone, and you'll be asked to exit the vehicle for a little test.

    Back in Milwaukee, my car got broken into while I was at a friend's house. We yelled at the kids as they tried to hotwire the car, and then called the police as they ran away. We'd been drinking a little bit, so it was surprising that the cops got the car fully hotwired for me and sent me on my way, broken back window and all. That was 20 years ago and in Milwaukee (Beer Capital of America). I don't expect any breaks like this in Jacksonville, so my advice would be to do exactly what this guy did if you've had a couple of drinks.

    Ask The Police
    Another theory is that the car was an undercover police car "running tags." These folks suggested the man call the police and ask. The problem is that since following someone around and running the tags is probably illegal, even if that was happening, I doubt it would be confirmed. Therefore, asking the police would not get a definitive answer.

    I've personally seen this happen, back in suburban Milwaukee. Cruisers would be at a stop light behind a car and on a laptop. Even though it was considered to be against the rules, it probably happened all the time when those computers were first installed. I think this behavior has been cracked down on to some extent, but an officer might still follow a car with a broken tail light just to see if the driver seems to be swaying around in his lanes, especially at 1:30am.

    Be Relieved
    One neighbor, to the consternation of most other neighbors, said that there was no proof the occupants of the car were up to no good. It's certainly true that no obvious crime occurred, even if most of us would consider following someone at 1:30am to be unacceptable, criminal-like behavior. If nothing else, the intent was to frighten the man. Whether it was a criminal, a cop, or a concerned citizen, when you follow someone all the way home at that hour, you want to frighten the person (or sneak up behind him). Georgia has a stalking law that might be applicable here, but I did not see one for Florida, where stalking is more about "a person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks" someone else. That means that criminals can legally stalk a dozen potential victims each day and never be breaking any law.

    Man or Woman, Do This
    If this kind of thing happens to you, it might seem to make sense to get home. The problem here is that you are leading someone to your house, even if they bail. They might now assume you work a late shift. Maybe they were following you to seek revenge for cutting them off, and they'll tag your garage door later on. And maybe, they'll be faster to the weapon than you.

    Therefore, it's recommended that you lead them back out of your neighborhood, just like the man in the story did. Take them to a public place and call the cops. If you're a little intoxicated, maybe wake up a dozen friends and round up the posse. I'd try to get to a public place where I know there are obvious cameras mounted. Even when you get somewhere more public, it's probably not a good idea to reach for your gun or tire iron right away. At least fake dial and talk on your phone before you get out of the car. You could probably hit the old panic button on the car, too, since noise tends to ward off criminals. At least I'd do some of that stuff before I decide to escalate the situation.