I remember when I was in 6th grade at Wilbur Wright Middle School in Milwaukee, WI, and the pastor of my church, which was located across the street, offended my family by mentioning the daily arrival of police cars. He was trying to say that the local Lutheran school was safer than the local public school. Perhaps he was not being a good neighbor, but since I went to the school, I can tell you that it was not as safe as the Northwest Lutheran School, at least not at the time.


Today, after several Milwaukee area Lutheran schools, including Milwaukee Lutheran High School and Wisconsin Lutheran High School, have used school choice and vouchers in order to stay in business, I'd wager there are more police units showing up at some of these once-elite private schools as opposed to The Milwaukee School of Languages (the school that emerged from Wilbur Wright).

If you live in a traditional big city school district, you'll have some really good public schools (often magnet schools), some really bad public schools, and some private schools that fit somewhere in between. People will pay extra to make sure their own kids aren't sharing the classroom with future criminals. Actually, you kind of want there to be some kind of cost (money, time, or effort). And you want to be able to retain the right to kick any kid out of school at any time. Public schools that can't do this end up with police cars in their parking lots daily. And fewer parents wanting their kids to attend.


In the end, there's a balance. Government money in the form of vouchers versus maintaining the elite status that pressured parents to pay several thousand dollars out of their own pockets in years past. It a very delicate balance, too, because there's a tipping point. If you go the route of Milwaukee Lutheran High School in Milwaukee, you'll end up saving your school, driving the traditional families out to Lake Country Lutheran, and sporting one of the lowest ACT scores in the state. And probably a bunch of police visits, too. However, if your local Lutheran or Catholic school can maintain high standards while accepting enough government money to maintain operation, parents, students, and the school can benefit from a voucher program.

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.