I was looking up a local school the other day. The website given by the DPI was for a .com out of California. A few clicks and I realized a local Milwaukee school was one of this California company's for-profit schools. I tried to remember how this sort of thing could be done for a profit, anyhow, since public schools seem to be money pits. There must be a model out there, like how people say FedEx and UPS make a profit when the US Postal Service can't. Or how roads make a profit when trains can't. Or wait, maybe that's not entirely true, and maybe there are some problems with big business running our schools.

Year after year, my school district would present the budget, reminding us teachers that we (the employees) were the single most expensive item for them to deal with. Sometimes they sold schools or deferred maintenance, and often they celebrated saving money on electric bills and other small savings. The point is that if personnel represents the most in cost for a public school system, I assume this would also be true of business-run schools. Added to the mix would be CEOs CFOs, CIOs, owners, and stockholders, all looking for their cuts. So I ask myself, all else being equal, how does all of this work out?

OK, I know it's not all equal, like special ed, which is one of the biggest departments in most school districts, and generally non-existent in the for-profit schools. Does this mean those schools are so good that they can teach kids with disabilities without the need for special teachers? More likely, they just don't take the kids or ignore the problems until the kids leave. That's what I would do if I was trying to make a profit in running a school: take the most profitable students.



Beyond ignoring students with special needs, I assume these for-profit schools do not pay teachers or other staff a living wage. Honestly, that's not a huge deal to me anymore, since even a non-living wage would be more than I'm getting paid as an unemployed teacher, but the point is that generally government employees do better than their private sector counterparts doing the exact same job. I'm not talking about two white collar "professionals" but about a school teacher vs. a school teacher or a garbage man vs. a garbage man. Government pays better than the private sector direct equivalent.

To recap, in order for big business to do well in education, some students need to be left behind and teachers generally have to get paid less in order to make up for $500,000 per year owners and chiefs, and to allow for $150,000 salesmen and consultants, and to pay $100,000 a year web designers and app developers and to pay out dividends, etc.


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.