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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 7,496

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Masterfully said. The first day of school, we know when the last day is going to be.

We know that each class is going to be 49 minutes long, 5 days per week, for 36 weeks, less two weeks for semester exams, less two weeks for semester dead week, less two weeks for state-mandated testing. So 150 days or 7350 minutes or 122.5 days, less attendance, morning announcements, early release for pep rallies, guest speakers from colleges and the military, less fire drills, less disaster drills, less textbook issuance, less textbook pickup, less sick leave days or family emergency days.

There IS no "more" time for differentiation, reteaching, and no facility to accommodate acceleration (it's really just one classroom with 32 desks in it, one teacher, and three computers).

The other idea of 100% mastery is that EVERY DETAIL in the course has been studied, analyzed, weighted, and found to be of critical importance to being able to exhibit mastery of that particular detail.

It also denies that there are alternate methods for doing things, or that the skills involved will be relevant at all in the near future (anybody else take sliderule class in high school in 1971 and find Wang calculators in a lab upon arrival at college?)

The one invaluable skill is critical thinking and problem-solving, along with the desire to use that skill. Unless you really think that I need to know the names of all 50 state capitals without looking them up.

You're right, doing nothing is not an option. MORE resources must be poured into poor schools, not


Let me give you an example:
In our district, "regular" students will be following a robotized curriculum called CSCOPE where every teacher of a subject will be on the same page, the same paragraph, the same word, ideally, at the same time each day. No textbooks will be issued, no deviation, no reteaching, no variation at all will be permitted.

AP and IB students will be getting new textbooks, and they will receive wireless notebooks that anyone can check out now, but not next year.

SPED students will still be getting textbooks, and all their modifications as well.

The school is 85% eligible for free/reduced lunch, and the census shows that 50% of the total population in this county does not have so much as a high school diploma.

No raises for two years, a 10% RIF, and a $15,000 raise for the superintendent and chief of staff are other ways they're "improving" the district.

No textbooks, no flexibility, no additional resources for the huge majority of poor students will result in a massive failure rate. Teachers' fault? Don't think so.

Resources are being removed from poor kids, not added. Insane, really. The kids, teachers, and the community all lose.

Start considering "growth" meaning simply bigger, as a cancer.

That's why all empires fall, not to rise again.

Greece, Egypt, Rome, England, France, Holland, all had their moments. No more.

Growth for growth's sake consumes more than it produces, eventually hollowing out everything with it.

Interest and the non-productive spending of war killed all of those empires, as it will the current American one. We'll be better off without all that exceptionalism, anyway, in terms of our souls.

I'd be glad to share what we have figured out.

#1. We worked 20 years in construction and remodeling and are able to do all renovations and repairs ourselves. This helps a lot.
#2. Buy distressed properties that no bank would finance and that would cost the current owners many thousands of dollars to bring to lendable condition.
#3. Have the owner carry the note. Pay nothing down and defer payments for 6 months while you get some unit ready to rent and begin cash flow. Because you're buying as-is, the only fee you'll pay is for the lawyer to draw up the note and file it with the country, in our case, about $425 total.
#4. Pick the best unit first, get it ready and rent it. We have our own rental agreement and have a long talk with each applicant about our expectations: pay the rent on time (that's why we don't have a late fee); take care of the property, and get along with your neighbors. We do no credit checks, only a phone call to verify employment. We have no pet deposit, but all animals must be pre-approved (no mastiffs in the one bedroom apartments!). We feel that people who like animals are nicer than those who don't. Our application includes a limited power of attorney that allows us to give a 3 day notice without further procedures to vacate the property. We rent everything month to month, no leases.
#5. The cash flow from rentals must equal at least double all expenses, including taxes and the note payment. If the note must be longer to reduce the payment to increase cash flow, that's fine. We offer 7% interest, and we feel that's a great rate for the seller in this economy.
#6. Emphasize community and looking out for each other. At one small 10 unit complex, one of the retired tenants tends the flower beds. We pay for any supplies, but she volunteers her labor. One of the other renters takes her to her medical appointments, because she has no car and taxis are expensive here. And so on.

Hard numbers? Our first complex, the 10 unit, is a great example.
Note payment: $500 per month.
Rent for each 1 bedroom unit = $500 per month.
Expenses: annual taxes are around $2000. We pay the electricity and water, and that amounts to about $1000 per month. We spend $100 or so per month on maintenance.

Income: $60,000 per year less $2000 for taxes, less $12,000 for utilities, less $1200 for maintenance, or about $44,800 before income taxes, about $40,000 after. That's a 66% net on income, or about 80% on the total purchase price of the complex, $50,000, financed for 20 years for $500 per month.

I collect all rents in person, in cash or money order. I spend about 20 hours a month total on maintenance and tenant visits. It works because it's cooperative. We have had 100% occupancy for the last 7 years there, and haven't had a change in tenants for 6 of those years. One man passed away, creating a vacancy. We have a waiting list of 20 people wanting to get in there.

Repeat this every 2 or 3 years for 3 decades, and you'll find yourself living comfortably working about 40-45 hours a week, mostly collecting cash, drinking some coffee, having a snack while you visit with people you like. Remember: positive cash flow with the rental of the first unit, or it's a no-go. As long as one unit at each property is rented, we can make the payments with that.

This sounds somewhat boastful in review, it's not intended to be. It's supposed to be practical - a good deal is a good deal for everyone - the seller, us, the tenants, If it's not, long-term, it can't work.
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