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That’s My School February 22, 2010

Posted by Amir Roth in education, politics.
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Have you heard of Harriton High School in Rosemont, PA? That’s right, it’s the school that spied on its students through the webcams of the laptops it issued to them. The school that’s now being sued for a breach of the fourth amendment. I graduated from this school in 1990. Larry Summers (former Treasury Secretary, former Harvard President, and current National Economic Council director) graduated from there in 1971 at the age of 16. I wonder what Larry thinks about this.

Here’s what I think. Who didn’t see this coming? Let me tell you something about Harriton that you probably already figured out. For a public high school, it has one of the wealthiest student bodies in the country. Harriton students may not be as wealthy as the ones that go to Beverly Hills high, but it’s closer than you think. I don’t know how things were circa Larry, but in 1990 I knew many people who lived in 5,000 square foot houses, drove BMWs to school, and took yearly vacations to Vail and St. John’s. Not that this matters and not that I have anything to complain about financially, but my last four houses/apartments together haven’t totaled 5,000 square feet, I have never been to Vail or St. John, and although I did drive a BMW twice, it was only for ten minutes apiece. Coincidentally both BMWs belonged to people named Charlie. Thanks Charlies! Point is, Harriton students don’t need school-issued laptops and everyone knows it. I would bet actual money that most Harriton students already had a laptop when they were issued one by the school. Given this, what could have possibly been the justification for this huge outlay? The stated one was that Harriton is a forward-thinking school that prides itself on innovative use of technology, but the real justification feels like its something much more depraved. At best, it’s narcissism gone wild. More likely, it’s closer to “Girls Gone Wild” (TM). People are going down over this. Hard. And that’s exactly what they deserve. In fact, everyone involved deserves to get dirtied by this. School officials. The students and their parents. The county.

School officials? Enough said. I don’t know that anyone is going to “prison” over this, but I wouldn’t bet against it at this point. Over-privileged defendants in high-profile cases have gone to “prison” over less. American society likes to see people knocked off of high pedestals even for small transgressions (see Stewart, Martha). It’s our national sport, with apologies to NASCAR and partisan politics.

The students and their parents? What hubris would lead you to accept such ridiculously superfluous gift from the school? Was it the same hubris that led the Trojans to accept a bronze horse from Greece? This is what happens when you are used to getting free stuff. You don’t question it. “Of course I should get ridiculous free stuff! I’m wealthy!” To quote Monty, “I’m rich! I should be able to run over as many people as I want!”

The county and the taxpayers? I cannot believe there wasn’t a public outcry over this program when it was first floated. How could you possibly justify your tax dollars bankrolling this extravagance? Have you no sense of proportion whatsoever? Does it not dawn on you that there could be better uses for this money? Does the fact that Harriton has a shiny new campus that would make most liberal arts colleges blanche not stroke your collective egos sufficiently? I sincerely hope that one of the things that comes out of this case is a realization that the current system of public education funding through local property taxes is seriously broken. On the one hand, school systems in low and middle income areas across the country are crumbling. Just eleven miles away from Harriton, the Philadelphia public school system is in dire straits. On the other hand, school systems in pockets of wealth essentially do … this. If ever there was an illustration that some school districts have too much money for their own good!

This summer is my 20 year high school reunion. I don’t know that I was necessarily going before this story broke. Now I question whether there will even be a reunion at all. Larry, next year is your 40 year reunion. Are you going?

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Comments»

1. northernlibertyalliance - February 22, 2010

Hot times change. Not long ago the Democrats and elites were screaming to high heaven about the Bush administration monitoring telephone communications coming into the U.S. from terrorist hotbeds.

Today we have teachers doing the same thing, and the Obama admin happily increasing their abilities to be big Brother. They have no disagreement with a recent ruling stating that “individuals have no expectation of privacy via telephone communication”.

It is amazing how so-called Liberals are now gleefully doing the same thing they criticized Bush for, but taking it to new levels. It just goes to show you their horrible hypocrisy and lust for new power.


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