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

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 In Florida: Millionaire Stealing From Kmart
    Where else would a guy who owns an $8 million private island and a Real World House decide to steal from Kmart? Nowhere else. Only in Florida. I thought that it was uniquely Florida when three guys walked right into a Walmart and stole the arcade claw machine, loading it into their pickup truck as if they were going to service it. But those guys were probably unemployed or at least poor, so it was just a badly-hatched plan. So was the plan to buy items at Kmart and then return different items in the boxes. But the Kmart plan was devised by a guy with enough capital to purchase an $8 million island, so it's even more odd.




    With how easily the man was caught, I have to assume he was not a career store scammer. There's no way that someone who tries to steal $300 from Kmart (minus the value of the items that were returned in the boxes) has pulled it off enough to become a millionaire.

    Maybe he figured he'd be safe once on his own island. He could use his new Keurig every morning as he watched the sunrise over the ocean. I assume his new island didn't have a basketball court, since that's the item he stuffed into the coffee maker box when it was returned.

    Normally, people who become millionaires don't steal small stuff, unless it's lots of small stuff, like fraudulent billing of patients of your healthcare company. I wonder if this man can plead the 5th and get out of any responsibility for stealing from Kmart. Perhaps that's all it takes to get away with stealing when you're rich; I wouldn't know.

    Anyhow, no man is an island entire of himself. He needs stuff, even if he is technically living on a private island. I suppose the monthly mortgage on an $8 million island might get a little steep. At 20% down on a 30-year loan, the island would run $30,260 a month. That's probably about what an average Kmart sells in a month. I'm kidding, I think. This guy was probably just strapped for cash after having spent over $1.5 million on a down payment, so he needed some necessities, like a Keurig coffee machine.
  • Followed Home in Jacksonville
    A neighbor was recently followed home by a white SUV, and the comments on Nextdoor were all over the place. I think there are several angles to consider here, even though most of the people commenting were fairly single-minded in how they saw the situation.




    Call the Police
    Most reactions were that of calling the police. This was 1:30 in the morning, and a man was being followed all the way to his home, and when the man turned away, he was also followed right up to the point he entered a 24-hour gas station. One comment was to call the police while being followed. That's good advice, so long as you weren't drinking at your friend's house until 1:30, which I have to assume was the case. When the police show up to help you out, the white SUV will be long gone, and you'll be asked to exit the vehicle for a little test.

    Back in Milwaukee, my car got broken into while I was at a friend's house. We yelled at the kids as they tried to hotwire the car, and then called the police as they ran away. We'd been drinking a little bit, so it was surprising that the cops got the car fully hotwired for me and sent me on my way, broken back window and all. That was 20 years ago and in Milwaukee (Beer Capital of America). I don't expect any breaks like this in Jacksonville, so my advice would be to do exactly what this guy did if you've had a couple of drinks.

    Ask The Police
    Another theory is that the car was an undercover police car "running tags." These folks suggested the man call the police and ask. The problem is that since following someone around and running the tags is probably illegal, even if that was happening, I doubt it would be confirmed. Therefore, asking the police would not get a definitive answer.

    I've personally seen this happen, back in suburban Milwaukee. Cruisers would be at a stop light behind a car and on a laptop. Even though it was considered to be against the rules, it probably happened all the time when those computers were first installed. I think this behavior has been cracked down on to some extent, but an officer might still follow a car with a broken tail light just to see if the driver seems to be swaying around in his lanes, especially at 1:30am.

    Be Relieved
    One neighbor, to the consternation of most other neighbors, said that there was no proof the occupants of the car were up to no good. It's certainly true that no obvious crime occurred, even if most of us would consider following someone at 1:30am to be unacceptable, criminal-like behavior. If nothing else, the intent was to frighten the man. Whether it was a criminal, a cop, or a concerned citizen, when you follow someone all the way home at that hour, you want to frighten the person (or sneak up behind him). Georgia has a stalking law that might be applicable here, but I did not see one for Florida, where stalking is more about "a person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks" someone else. That means that criminals can legally stalk a dozen potential victims each day and never be breaking any law.

    Man or Woman, Do This
    If this kind of thing happens to you, it might seem to make sense to get home. The problem here is that you are leading someone to your house, even if they bail. They might now assume you work a late shift. Maybe they were following you to seek revenge for cutting them off, and they'll tag your garage door later on. And maybe, they'll be faster to the weapon than you.

    Therefore, it's recommended that you lead them back out of your neighborhood, just like the man in the story did. Take them to a public place and call the cops. If you're a little intoxicated, maybe wake up a dozen friends and round up the posse. I'd try to get to a public place where I know there are obvious cameras mounted. Even when you get somewhere more public, it's probably not a good idea to reach for your gun or tire iron right away. At least fake dial and talk on your phone before you get out of the car. You could probably hit the old panic button on the car, too, since noise tends to ward off criminals. At least I'd do some of that stuff before I decide to escalate the situation.