My wife went to Brookfield Academy. Sometimes, I like to put words in the mouths of those who send their kids there, like, "We're not letting 'those kids' in our school." I'm probably completely wrong. Brookfield Academy parents are probably very excited to see a full voucher system so that the school can be expanded and students from all walks of life can benefit from the obviously better teachers and facilities that result in better students year after year. It's exactly what should fix the system. My wife's friend, who also attended Brookfield Academy, told me this is what needs to happen and that Waiting for Superman showed her the light. Well, it's your time, now, BA. Let's see what happens.


My prediction is that when a full voucher system hits Wisconsin, upper-echelon private schools will INCREASE tuition and requirements to get in. Why? Not because it will cost more to educate the kids. Not because teachers will demand more. No, it will be weed those out that the members of the country club might not want there. Sure, BA offers a few scholarships and is very proud of its brownish faces in the crowd, but do sons and daughters of surgeons and CEOs really want to share the lunchroom with kids getting free lunch? Will they? Do Brookfield and Delafield parents want their kids hanging out with kids from the brownfields of Milwaukee who have eight siblings by four daddies? Do the exemplary teachers used to homework and high ACT accomplishment want to deal with kids who throw punches if someone mean-mugs them and are told by parents that even teachers best not dis their kids.


I'm sure BA and other private schools are not really prepared for a full voucher system, even though they want to enjoy the government cheese from their chosen students. School choice, under a full voucher system, will not be a choice made by parents, but one made by the elite schools to take the kids they see as fit for their programs, creating the same segregated system as today. The only difference? Voucher money will be added to the bank accounts of the choicest schools, resulting in more for the rich and less for the poor. Honestly, a full voucher system is a Godsend for top-end private schools and wealthy parents, as they will benefit the most. Can it be made fair? Maybe, but schools used to being on top would have to risk it all to let students not used to being on top enroll, and I don't see that really happening, meaning the worst students with the most problems will be denied access or kicked out of these wondrous places.

Ten years down the road, we'll see several success stories of kids waking up at 4am to head out to Brookfield to get to the best school around. Of course, the kid willing to do that could have succeeded at my MPS high school all along, but that story will make us all see how it just takes a helping hand and some dedication to fix it all, never mind the thousands NOT willing to get up early or who got kicked out for not conforming enough. It's a nice Horatio Alger story, anyhow.

Visit Educabana for more on dreams of equity in education and how you can participate in an educated world.

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.