The problem with choice, charter, and voucher schools is that we're all human. Human nature tells us to look out for ourselves, and even if the entity running your organization promotes wonderful morals, those can come in conflict with the results of our humanity.

I recently met someone who was married to a religious school principal. They were now divorced. That happens. The problem is that the principal is now in charge of 100+ students with a black mark when it comes to the religion being professed at the school. It's a lot of pressure for someone like that to avoid personal conflicts. It's worse, of course, when a church employee takes liberties with the kids, and that's happened, too. I'm not saying it's great for non-church workers at public schools to do any of this stuff, but governments should be held accountable to not sweep allegations under the rug, which I have personally seen at church-run schools. That said, I've seen it in public schools, too, but at least there might be some eventual accountability.

The other human vice we should worry about when it comes to vouchers for schools is greed. If greed is what drives a capitalist economy, and capitalism is seen as the best way to administer vouchers, then it would follow that a fully-capitalist version of vouchers in schools would be led by greed. Not that the kids will solely learn about that in the classroom, but the intent will be to make the most money for owners, investors, and maybe employees. It could lead to a sort of educational industrial complex. The problem here is that children are impressionable, and if local governments lack the autonomy to choose textbooks, then what a generation of children learn in our voucher-funded schools could be exactly what those with the power want them to learn. If you though fake news was  problem in the 2016 election, what happens when it becomes part of the standards?

When I was teaching in a fairly large high school, I always loved the fact that others in my department had their own personalities and mini-agendas. Nothing too intrusive, and we were all different. Think about how that could change if all schools become based on some corporate agenda. Don't kid yourself into thinking these would not exist. For example, if SchoolCorp runs 5,000 schools and signs a contract with MegaStore. All the tax money going to SchoolCorp gets spent at MegaStore, but, just as importantly, teachers are encouraged to use articles and examples that promote MegaStore. This will happen if schools all go to vouchers. Maybe it's not terrible. Maybe it's expected in a capitalist society. The question is whether or not we really want to find out.

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.