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Bennett Going After More High Stakes--in Virtual Education

Ohanian comment: At least some journalists are seeing through Bill Bennett's pomposity: "having Mr. Bennett as the front man for virtual education is a bit like letting Mike Tyson do promotions for H&R Block."

After admitting losing millions as a high-stakes gambler, family values champion William Bennett promised that embarrassment would not silence him. He wasn't bluffing.

Mr. Bennett has begun a statewide tour touting Internet-based education as an alternative to public schools. Beginning next month, Florida Virtual Academy -- run by K12 Inc., which Mr. Bennett chairs -- and Connections Academy will teach as many as 1,000 pupils in kindergarten through the eighth grade. The companies will receive $4.8 million in contracts from the Florida Department of Education. Students never will have to leave their computer screens for classes, and Mr. Bennett likes that.

"Thanks to the values of a good technology," he says, "we can now deliver a first-class education to every child in the United States."

Family values and technological values aside, having Mr. Bennett as the front man for virtual education is a bit like letting Mike Tyson do promotions for H&R Block. Mr. Bennett's expertise in computer-assisted learning seems to be mostly in filling inside straights at video poker. The field trips at Florida Virtual Academy may involve touring offshore cyber-casinos. How about a little Online Keno 101 before virtual recess?

Mr. Bennett believes receiving information through a video display terminal constitutes a "first-class education." Who needs social interaction with all those virtual classmates out there? He proposes abandoning public schools and making Internet fact reception available to every child. He's not bluffing about this, either. But it's long past time for him to fold and find another game.

— Editorial
Bennett Aces Internet
Palm Beach Post


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