When my mom's MPS elementary school was deemed as 'failing' back in the 90s, she began a journey into each and every magic fix in education, which would last the final decade of her employment as a teacher and generally leave the school in as bad or worse of a state as it had begun. Voucher schools are the next step in a system of trial and error that has been created by those who hope against reality, but it's worth a shot like any other potential fix.


First, the reality. Most fixes are temporary or work on the kids who would have performed better in the traditional setting, anyhow, like those with parents who bother to sign their kids up for the better school. This should be obvious, but those in favor of the next big thing tend to use the stats, anyhow. On top of that, improvements with most of the fixes, including school choice, seem to be immediate but not lasting. From the studies I've seen, scores go up for a few years, gaps are never closed, and scores fall back eventually. However, the truth is that voucher schools have not been fully implemented in order to fix the 'problems' in education, and since everything else has been tried, we might as well try voucher schools.

Teachers who argue against the ultimate trial and error (which will result in the demise of public schools) really should have thought about that before they bought into every new program, before they accepted the 'fact' that students today are dumber than students in the past, and before they accepted their own union acceptance of teacher accountability. It's too late to go back, and we're close enough to give it a shot, so it kind of makes sense to go ahead and see what happens when all parents get vouchers and get to choose where that money goes.


While voucher schools will not be as effective as the eventual (and only legitimate) solution to failing inner city schools -- boarding schools -- a voucher system is relatively cheap as an experiment. And who knows, maybe the psychological benefit of feeling like a real choice was made will be enough to overcome ignorance and poverty. I had a planning professor in college who said people treat their properties much better when they own rather than rent, so if you own your kids' education, maybe there's college-like effect to the whole situation.

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.
  • QR Code Interview Gimmick
    My kids' school created a pamphlet with a QR code that linked to the website, so I figured it could be useful to do the same thing when I bring in my resume to a job interview. Especially since I made a cool online resume that really looks a lot better than the printed kind. Plus, printing all that I've done over the last two decades would be a huge waste of paper (unless it gets me the job).

    I wonder how many people in the average interview will know how  to use the QR code. I didn't have the capability on my phone until last year, and it is kind of a gimmick, especially since you can usually just email links and whatnot. Then again, it's something different, and it might make me stand out a bit, so I'll print off the code along with some other important documents.

    I am sure plenty of people have used a QR code as part of their interviews, but I do think my online resume is pretty darn good, so it's more than a link to my Linkedin page. I suppose a link to a video of me would be even cooler, but that would mean making a video, and it's not like I'm trying to get a job as a videographer. Anyhow, feel free to use this idea as part of your next interview. Just like everyone started using student-written letters of recommendation after I introduced the idea back in 2002.

  • Who's Got My Back in Jacksonville?
    I've seen several political ads recently that focus on people who have the back of the police officers. I suppose that's a thing, but I am not a police officer (or a native of Jacksonville), so I'm kind of wondering who has my back as I settle in here.

    I assume JSO and JFRD have my back because it's their job. And all the military around here have my back in case Canada attacks. But I'm thinking about the everyday having my back kind of thing.

    In Milwaukee, I could count on some people, at least a little bit. Classmates from Milwaukee's John Marshall High School (91, 92, 93, and 94). Or Wilbur Wright Middle School (88, 89, 90). Or French Immersion school or 82nd Street School. Most of the people who might have my back in MKE are now cordial Facebook friends. Sure, our high school football team liked to say we went to war together and we were brothers for life an all that, but we're kind of distant cousins at this point, two decades since I've seen most of those old friends in person. That said, any meatheaded rivalries are now gone at least.

    I donated my time as a teacher at Menomonee Falls High School for 12 years, so there might be a few fellow teachers or former students who have my back. Then again, I didn't get a whole lot of love from many of the MFHS Indians back when I got laid off, so whatevs.

    People at church will have your back, generally, but it takes some time to build relationships. Same goes for fellow parents at your kids' school or new co-workers. Or new neighbors.

    I felt like my fellow baseball teammates in Wisconsin had my back when I played there, but that was also mostly the guys with whom I played for many years. Maybe it just takes a lot of time for people to really have your back, and you have to stay relatively injury-free.

    Family is forever, but I don't have any in jax. I bet that's fairly typical in this area with such a fast population growth in the area. Lots of new people without family, so probably a lot of us trying to figure out who has our backs, besides politicians, of course. Obviously, I have my immediate family, but that's a little different than the idea of someone having my back. Still, it's more than some folks might have.

    My wife's been fortunate enough to find a Meetup group with people who probably have her back. I have not found a good group to join myself, but that's one way to make new friends. Maybe not super close friends, though. I'm not sure. Meetups are hit-or-miss. Just like friendships. 

    I guess I'm glad I'm not in a gang or anything, even though gang members have each others' backs. But the cops and politicians don't have their backs, which is good. I suppose we can all relate to the appeal, especially if you grew up thinking no one had your back.

    I hope all people in Jacksonville find the connections that make them feel safe without having to join a gang, call the police, or vote for someone. That's my goal, anyway.