(That last line should read: "...an assertion that few of the NSA's most fervent supporters are willing to make" or "...an assertion that even the NSA's most fervent supporters are reluctant to make.")
I'm a high school math teacher, and I'm all in favor of trying different approaches (including Andrew Hacker's ideas) to help people learn math, but I'm not convinced that the primary issue is one of dry-boring-algebra vs. real-world-exciting-statistics. The fact is that all mathematics requires developing skills in quantitative reasoning, and quantitative reasoning is difficult (more so for some than for others). A course in "citizen statistics", even one that includes a lot of interesting real-world applications, is still going to require learning to reason effectively with numbers; I would argue that it will also require some fluency with fundamental algebra concepts like variables, interpreting graphical data, etc.
So by all means, let's continue to come up with different ways to help people learn math. But the bottom line is that learning math is hard work and the hard work part's not going to go away, even with better courses.
Note that the 43.2% growth rate mentioned in the post is 43.2% over 10 years. If you use the numbers from the table to calculate an average "annual" growth rate, you get around 3.1%. Since growth rates are typically quoted as annual rates, it's not a bad idea to note this number as well.
Perhaps I'm misunderstanding the original comment. Are you saying that it's not appropriate for anyone to comment on tragic events? Or that it's not appropriate to comment on tragic events until some minimum period of time has passed (e.g., "after the funerals"). Or that it's okay to comment on tragic events as long as you don't use the event to make a particular point? Or that it's okay to use the event to make a particular point as long as it's a point that you personally agree with?
I absolutely agree that anyone who comments publicly about some tragic event should be as sensitive as possible, but it's not reasonable to suggest that people shouldn't comment about them at all. Trying to make sense of the events of our lives, even the tragic ones, is what we humans do.
Speaking as a high school teacher who's also something of a technophile, I confess I'm not crazy about blanket technology bans, but I think banning the use of cell phones and ipods in the classroom is a good idea. These devices are remarkably compelling for teens and many would happily spend several hours a day, including all of their class time, texting with their friends and watching youtube videos. There's something to be said for having kids "turn the TV off" for a while so they can focus their brains on something a little more cognitively substantial. And it's much easier to get a teen to do that if you're not constantly having to compete with their cell phone, to say nothing of competing with 30 cell phones.