The other day, I went to Cafe Fiore at 11 a.m. to enjoy espresso and my newspaper. Unemployment can be a treat in this way. I was immediately drawn to the frontpage Seattle Times article "Hundreds of kids flock to state's new online schools".

According to the article, "Insight School of Washington, the state's first fully online high school, stopped accepting students after 650, and has 1,000 more who've expressed interest. The Washington Virtual Academy, a K-8 based in Steilacoom, has 652 students registered, and another 500 in the application pipeline."

Now you might call me old-fashioned, but I think there's a certain social value to attending school. I've never been a fan of home-schooling either, but that's the suprising thing about this online-education phenomenon -- only about one-quarter of Insight's students are coming from home-schooling. Close to 500 of Insight's enrolled students and their parents were so unhappy with brick-and-mortar schooling that they chose the new alternative? That's a little scary.

I think young people need to be in an environment where they can interact with each other. Eventually they will need to gain some social skills or otherwise be ill-prepared for higher education and/or employment. No doubt, high school in particular can be a tough time for many people, but parents should encourage their children to overcome challenges, not avoid them. Fear of potential hardships should not outweigh the potential for success.