Teacher unions better be ready for President Trump. Maybe the president does not have the power of a governor when it comes to education, but if he wants it, he probably can take it. Wisconsin teachers unions were destroyed overnight by Scott Walker. They are now worthless in the state. Vouchers were expanded so that pretty much anyone can use them anywhere.

Based on the new Secretary of Education, the assumption would be that our country is heading for something similar. Think of it kind of what the federal government did with Obamacare. Trump will set aside a large chunk of money to help education, but it will only be available to states that play by his rules, and his rules will likely include total freedom of choice, possibly with the added bonus of union busting. If nothing else, states that take the federal aide will need to jump through the proper hoops that will be designed to allow head to head competition between for-profit schools and public schools.

Because public school teacher total compensation packages are currently at least in the realm of a living wage, choice schools will be able to undercut local public schools at every turn. With or without proof of better results, these schools will thrive. And in some ways, that's fine. Parents can choose the alternative to public school, as long as something can be measured to confirm the right choices are being made. Trump does not like Common Core, but he does like to cite international tests that show we're behind other countries in skills (found in the Common Core).

People voted for a shakeup of how things are done when it comes to government. Many of those who voted for Trump are more than likely happy with the education received in their own communities, but even wealthy suburban schools cannot compete against the allure of schools that provide the same education for half the money. It's like when all those teachers made the choice to buy more reliable Japanese cars: they wanted the best deal, even if it hurt a local worker. Well, that same scenario could play out at public schools all over the country if Trump opens education up the way he could. If parents don't respect your Master's in Educational Pedagogy and the price it's costing them, then your school will lose out to the online school paying a recent college grad half your salary to teach three times as many kids.

Don't kid yourselves. Trump's draining of the swamp when it comes to education might include voucher school lobbyists, but since that's basically who he hired to run the Department of Education, it's more likely the swamp, in his mind, includes teacher union representatives. While I have no love for a union that failed to protect me, I do feel some sorrow at the potential loss of a free, public, liberal arts education in America. Then again, we haven't very good at doing it, anyhow, so maybe it's time to see what the market will produce.

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.