"Take a little bit of what each political philosophy espouses and you'll have something worthwhile." (me, just now)

Competition is probably good, but then you need standards. And the best of the standards are, yes, Common Core, no matter how much President Trump wants to eliminate the non-federal program. In fact, it should be adopted in all schools and with a standard measurement in the classroom. For example, when I was teaching, I had no idea what proficient really was for a given skill, so I estimated that 9-10/10 was advanced proficient and 7-8/10 was proficient. But a lot of teachers wanted 4/5 quiz scores to be proficient and 5/5 AP. And that was in my own school district. Another district or another state could be much different, unless we all adopt the same standards and the same measurements, competing in the same way. 

Basically, take the best of what the liberals have pushed (Common Core Standards) and combine with the best of what the conservatives have pushed(competition). But it has to be fair and balanced, with private schools getting public money and testing kids with the same assessments. Real competition with a real way of measuring the results. A federally-accepted set of standards we all agree to and that show where our schools are at.

Most schools will, as expected, score within the anticipated range for the students at the school. When a school or teacher has students who consistently over-perform, those teachers or schools can be rewarded with more vouchers being cashed in for a worthwhile education. However, if a school or teacher consistently under-performs compared to the competition, then they should probably lose funding or students.

The problem is that most schools today do not over or under-perform. Most schools are right where they are predicted to be, which means a lot of movement to other schools is just a waste of resources, as is paying top dollar to a public school teaching force that gets no better results than their underpaid private school counterparts.

If we judge schools simply on graduation rates, it's often a race to the bottom, as schools work hard to allow students to pass. If we tell schools there is no competition, it's a race to nowhere, as it's anyone's guess what material is necessary to meet any requirements. However, a broad, skills-based, national curriculum combined with legitimate competition will result in at least a group of stakeholders who care and can understand the necessity of the assessments used.

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.