Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Neighborhood Watch

The controversy over Senator Rick Santorum's alleged out-0f-state residency dramatizes how digital communication can impact communities at the level of the local polling places and school districts. Fellow Blogspot bloggers are all over this story: Tom Ferrick, a Metro columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer has weighed in recently with a long post about a strange form of neighborhood watch in which Pennsylvania locals are confronting Santorum about his right to vote. Now that the Office of Homeland Security has announced reduced funds to the most likely targets that risk prediction experts, like those at RAND, would choose, apparently the Santorum residence merits particularly vigilant protection from cranky nearby residents. One irate constituent's "Santorum Cybergate" blog gives a sense of the level of community outrage

Santorum first raised local wrath by enrolling his homeschooled children in "cyberschool" then facilitating tuition reimbursements from local government entitities that add up to $100,000 of taxpayer funds. USA today has covered the broader conflict between the cyberschools and the local districts who are responsible for supporting their tuition under agreements governing charter schools. The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School , in which Santorum's children were enrolled, has an amazing website, which declares that their purpose is "helping families build their own school . . . out of choices, not bricks."

I hate to give credit to Santorum, but it's worth pointing out that he has one of the few helpful kids' pages, which actually addresses what children need from a government website: information to help them write school reports.

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