My kids both spent time at Milwaukee German Immersion School, and they are better for having done it. It's a public school, but a lot of private schools could learn from the accomplishments of the students who attend. Basically, you have the chance to allow students to learn another language while still maintaining high academic standards. All you have to do is let go of your fears and let them learn.

My in-laws weren't sold on the school. They worried our kids would fall behind in reading, if nothing else, if they only learned in German for their first few years of public schooling. I wasn't worried because I went through the Milwaukee French Immersion School and ended up as an English Major. Eight years after our daughter started at the school and six years after our son did the same, we are in a Lutheran school in Florida, but the results of the immersion program are still with us. The kids can still speak and understand German, and we'll be enrolling them in German 1 Florida virtual school to get high school credits in middle school very soon. Then they can decide if they want to take French or some other high school language while there.

The kids are also doing just fine when it comes to reading in English. Our 12 year-old is reading in the 85th percentile, and our 10 year-old is in the 99th percentile for their grade levels. Both are 90th percentile or above in math and social studies, too. Basically, they are where they should be, whether because of German immersion or in spite of it. Their parents would have had similar test scores at a similar time in life, and we're both college-educated. The kids care about learning and want to do well. MGIS may not have caused all of this, but it certainly did not hinder their learning, and they now have a separate skill because we made the choice for them to learn another language.

I'm not talking about dual-language schools or a Spanish class thrown in a couple times a week here. This is school taught in another language on US soil. Kids will learn just fine, as long as you can find the teachers who know the language and can teach k12. That's the only catch: teachers. They're not going to want to teach at some low-paying charter or private school, so you've got to make it a public school choice or else go all-in with the pay. These are people who can communicate effectively in another language, and they deserve pay that makes sense. If you can make it happen, however, the results will meet expectations.

Oh, you might also want to target the school at parents who are open to languages and have a college education of their own. And a true immersion school will take away from any "academically talented" school you might have. My current town of Jacksonville, FL, might not be as well-suited to this experience as, say, Raleigh or Madison. And your population needs to be fairly stable, so military towns (like Jax) might not fit as well as cities with a stable workforce/economy. That's because once a kid leaves the immersion program, it's very unlikely someone will replace that student. Overall, we are very happy our kids attended Milwaukee German Immersion, they are doing just fine today, and we expect them to do well in the next eight years into college.

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.
  • Only Way to Avoid The Reverse Mortgage Disaster
    I've seen several news articles about the pitfalls of reverse mortgages. I also saw that we've set up a fund to help people when they get stuck with a reverse mortgage here in Florida. But the simple answer that most older people don't want to hear is that there's only one way to avoid disaster with a reverse mortgage: don't get one.

    The ad that inspired this reverse mortgage article claims that Americans have trillions of dollars just sitting there, not being used. The problem is that a reverse mortgage isn't using that money, either. It's using the house that's worth that money as collateral for a LOAN. It's a loan that needs to be paid off when your house is sold. You can make mistakes and end up losing your house.

    The better advice for anyone already retiredor looking to retire is to sell. I know, you love your house, all the stuff in it, the neighbors you wave at, the same big box retail down the road, and all the stuff in the house. It's basic economics: if you own something outright worth $500,000, sell it for $500,000 and rent a nice condo for 20 years. If you take out a reverse mortgage, then you can get $250,000 towards a condo for 10 years, still pay property taxes and insurance on the house, and continue to maintain it so that in a decade, you'll make enough money to pay off your reverse mortgage loan. New AC, new roof, new driveway? That would all eat into the profit on selling your house that you'll need to cover all the interest on the loan. Don't pay a bank for the right to live in a house for your entire life. Avoid reverse mortgages at all costs.
  • Rental Bikes Aren't Exactly For The Homeless
    Local news was down in St. Augustine covering the newly-proposed use of some kind of bike-share rental system. Since it's standard operating procedure, a homeless man was interviewed about the program. He said something to the effect that it would be good to have options for someone like him who can't afford a bike. FYI local news and homeless people: bike rental programs are not really created for the homeless.

    Since I don't claim to know the biking habits of the typical homeless individual, I'm going to assume it involves getting to a place and then back home. Home being a structure in a field outside of town, not where you'd be able to return the bike for credit. My understanding would be that these folks would need the bike to get to and from "work," each and every day. Based on a similar rental system I found online, the 24-hour rental is $24. Alternatively, an annual pass is $80. The problem is that the trips can only be 60 minutes each. Assuming the homeless camp is close enough to downtown, this might work as a way to get around once in St. Augustine. Not a bad yearly price to not have to worry about bike maintenance, anyhow. If you're homeless already, and now you can get as many maintenance-free trips on a bike as you can use each day, then $80 for the year isn't bad at all.

    But wait, there's less. The yearly pass will need to be paid for with a credit card with a fob mailed to an address. So even if these ride share bikes makes sense to homeless people, it might not be something that can be purchased without the help of someone with credit and an address. It might seem like a lot of people would volunteer to do this, but any extra time or any damage would be billed to the credit card, so I certainly wouldn't volunteer my credit in the hopes that someone else will always return the bike in time (or at all). The Cincinnati bike share, for example, charges $1,200 for a bike that is not returned.

    I have a $1,000 bike. At least someone paid $1,000 for it back in 1986. I picked it up amidst college moving day garbage at UW-Milwaukee back in 1999. It was already worth $0 at that point. I've used some tape to hold it together, but it's still worth about $0. Since I'm probably not the only person in the area with a worthless bike, I'm thinking a bike donation for the homeless might make more sense than saying they should be using tourist bikes. That's not to say that bike shares don't have a place in St. Augustine, just that it might be meant for rich tourists instead of homeless interviewees.