Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sandy Hook & Cyberschools

Yesterday I received these questions from a newspaper reporter in Pennsylvania.
  • "It occurred to me that one way to protect children as they learn is to teach them at home. Do you expect cyber schools will become more popular because of the massacre in Newtown, Conn.?"
  • "You have charted the growth of cyber schools and mentioned that Florida and perhaps other states turn to them to save money in writings at the NEPC. To what extent do you think concern for safety has fed the growth of cyber schools?"
  • "After the shootings in Columbine, I assume cyber schools nascent entities if they existed at all, but did those shootings lead to an increase in home schooling?"
I assumed immediately that I was not dealing with Walter Lippmann here. But I did wonder who might have put such questions in this poor man’s head. Pennsylvania is home to the Agora cyber-charter-school, one of the largest in the nation and a huge cash cow for K12 Inc. And on several occasions I have been contacted by reporters asking questions after they were visited by a K12 Inc. public relations flack with a parent and cyber-educated student in tow.

There are few places on earth at which a child is safer than at an American public school. More than 90% of public school parents express no concern for their child’s safety while at school, according to repeated Gallup surveys.

My nephew’s son was in the weight room adjacent to the cafeteria on April 20, 1999, when Harris and Kliebold committed that heinous act of mayhem at Columbine. My nephew didn’t start searching for a charter school or bring his son home to educate him.

These tragedies of mass killings – virtually always by males between the ages of 18 and 40 – are completely unpredictable. They happen in Colorado, they happen in Oregon, they happen in Scotland, they happen in Norway. The attempt to twist the narrative of gun control into a debate about mental illness is an obscenity. These acts are almost always the actions of paranoid schizophrenics; and that condition – presenting in the late teens or early 20s – is known to exist in every culture across every decade at a rate of 1 in 100 persons. There are 60,000,000 males in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 40. One percent of that number is 60,000 males. Approximately that number of young men live, work, and suffer from a tragic biochemical illness in the United States. What does the NRA propose to do with them? Incarcerate them all? Appoint an armed companion to follow them around 24/7?

Back to our reporter in Pennsylvania.

  • “Dr. Glass, do you expect cyber schools will become more popular because of the massacre in Newtown, Conn.?”
No! Nor do I think people will stop going to the movies because of the unspeakable tragedy at the theater in Aurora, Colorado.

And will the next reporter’s question be about buying stock in Netflix?

Gene V Glass
University of Colorado Boulder
Arizona State University

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