Monday, June 14

Duval Schools Referendum: What it Means to Me

As someone who has not used the local public schools (for my kids) in the past, I didn't have much of an opinion about them. Even when I worked as a teacher in one of the not-so-great schools, the school district didn't matter all that much to me. This is because my kids weren't part of the school district. However, after researching options for local high schools, we decided to transition from a private K-8 school and into a Duval high school, so now funding for the schools DOES matter. Luckily, it mattered enough to other voters in order to pass a referendum in the 2020 election that will allow Jacksonville's schools to (finally) make some upgrades. 

Unfortunately, many of the upgrades will come in the form of tightened security and completing 
deferred maintenance. When a school district is underfunded for many years, that's kind of what happens, I guess. The security upgrades are obviously in response to the national rash of school shootings, and I also understand that expenditure, but it's still unfortunate that a percentage of the money allocated will have to be used for this. 

I also wanted to reiterate my opinion that a well-funded public school system is NOT a problem for private schools, since I'm sure some of those parents voted against the tax increase. If public schools are bad enough (and Duval was close to this tipping point), then families will continue to move to St. Johns or Clay, and your wonderful private school will be located in a less-desirable neighborhood. Your home, too. This is not to say that new or updated facilities will fix all of the problems in Duval schools. As a teacher at two different local middle schools, I can tell you that the behavior of the kids (always dictated by their parents) plays a much bigger role in the success of the schools than new classrooms. 

I am glad to see that new classrooms are a part of the equation. The school my kids will be attending is building (or has built) 32 classrooms. I hope. It's actually a testament to how poor the communication is in the district that parents of a student who will be attending a school that has $24 million to spend is not aware of how that money has been spent. But no one could tell me when volleyball season starts, either, so it's not a huge surprise. Anyhow, I am hopeful that 30-something classrooms will be added so that my kids won't be relegated to temporary portable trailer rooms. Of course, it's hard to believe we ever let that happen in the first place, but I'm hoping the sales tax money helps fix past wrongs so that I can funally benefit from the property taxes I've been paying since we've moved to Jax.

[UPDATE]
As of late June, 2021, no meaningful construction had begun at our kids' new school. That's pretty bad, as it was considered spendable money as soon as the measure passed. And all the schools had plans. I'll assume the construction will be starting any day now, but it's a disappointment that portables are still being used for summer activities rather than being recycled as tiny homes for the homeless.

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Sunday, June 13

Secret Beach is for Everyone, Just Not Now - Think Garbage Barge

I recently spoke with a former mayor of Atlantic Beach who told me that Secret Beach IS for me. And you. And all taxpayers. But there are some problems. 

Saturday, June 5

Leaving Passengers On Board Plane With Possible 'Device' Makes Sense?

I read that a Delta airlines plane coming into Jacksonville was diverted to a separate runway and then thoroughly searched for a 'device' of some kind. With all the passengers on the plane! I know the public isn't made aware of all the details in a case like this, but doesn't it seem like the opposite of the right way to search the plane?

I guess I'll have to assume someone sent a threat that maybe included the instructions that a bomb would go off if anyone was allowed to leave the plane. That's the only scenario that makes sense. It's like, "Send 50million crypto coins to this account or else I blow the plane. And if anyone tries to leave, I blow the plane."

However, in every other scenario under the friendly skies, I would say you get all the people off the damn plane FIRST. If it's a ticking time bomb somewhere on board or a passenger with a remote or something volatile in the cargo area, it seems to make sense to get the people out of there.

Imagine being one of the passengers stuck on a plane that has arrived without a problem, then being told by the pilot that there's a maintenance issue (which could obviously be fixed once everyone is off the plane), then being told the pilot lied and it's something else. You assume someone on board is a killer or drug czar. Or that there's a bomb. The last place you want to be is in your seat for three hours, just waiting to see if one of your fellow travelers finally cracks and takes the little kid in row 19 as a hostage. Or the whole plane blows up.

I'm sure this was all done by the book, but it seems to me the book has to be wrong. Since I don't have a background in law enforcement, I might be missing something. I just remember the time I was on the London Underground and saw an unattended bag sitting in the middle of the walkway for several stops, my anxiety skyrocketing until I (a total introvert) started asking every single passenger if the bag was theirs. I was floored by how others didn't seem to think a bag like this was a concern. I was considering picking the luggage up and throwing it (or myself) out the door at the next stop when someone several seats away grabbed it, but that was the most stressful ten minutes of my life because I was sure that bag was going to explode. That's not a feeling I wish on anyone, but many of the passengers in Jacksonville must have felt similarly. 

Call me a romantic, but I'd rather see everyone safely off an airplane that might explode even if there's a small chance the perp gets away. It's like a police car chase through a densely-populated part of town: I want the bad guy to get caught, but I don't want others to die just so that can happen. 

Anyhow, nothing was found, no one was arrested, and nobody died, so I guess it was "mission accomplished" for federal law enforcement.

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