A lot has fallen into place over the past year in order for vouchers to become the standard in our country. Sometimes it's been on the state level, but it's also been on the national level, and these changes have not always been seen as specifically for the promotion of vouchers in schools.

One recent change is in the Supreme Court, which has decided government employee unions can't force payment to the union. This is like Right to Work for government. Even if it does not specifically mention schools, teachers, or even states, the message is clear: unions are an option. If people don't join the unions, and the unions don't get the money, then unions won't work to defend public schools the way they have in the past. If you're a public school teacher and think this is a small issue, you're wrong. That said, I was dumped by my union after my state went to a system of voluntary membership. The union didn't even send a card when I was let go with no explanation, whereas the same union had fought to protect a female teacher who was having an intimate relationship with TWO underage students a couple years earlier. Anyhow, I'm no fan of teachers unions, but I know that putting a collective weight behind an idea helps, and any public school teacher who thinks their job is safe right now is very, very wrong.

Another change that will affect private schools but not vouchers specifically is the use of college savings accounts to pay for private school. It can be big in some states more than others because of tax incentives, but it gives parents another option to pay for private school that was not around last year.


Many states are trying to pass voucher bills. These are, of course, lamented by teachers unions, but Florida has chosen an imaginative way around these union arguments: bullying. The Florida bill that passed said the state would kick in for private school for the kids who have been bullied in public school. It's hard for anyone to argue that a kid who is being bullied should just deal with it, so the passing of the bill was easy, and it had the added benefit of making teachers look bad. In states where unions are still strong, I'd predict this kind of chipping away in the next few years. Students who score below a certain level. Students whose parents only make a certain amount. Students who have failed a grade. Students who want to have religion as part of their education. Etc.

I read an effective article recently that talked about how many parents of kids in private schools are not rich. It said these people just have made a choice to spend a lot of money in order to send their kids where the parents see as the best school. It's hard to argue against medium-income families giving of themselves for the benefit of their kids. Sure, there are still rich people who send their kids to elite schools, but if the general public is convinced it's not about welfare for the rich, then some kind of voucher school system isn't too far behind. I can attest that most private schools are NOT elitist. At least not the Lutheran ones I've been a part of. It's just an option, like Montessori or Waldorf or Language Immersion. When people start to see it that way, they'll probably lean towards a voucher system. Even if no real evidence exists that students are benefiting to a huge degree.

And it won't be long.

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 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.