Saturday, November 12, 2005

#211 - The Arrogance of Harvard

(H/T: Mrs. Woody, as usual!)

Oh, to have the clarity of vision and nobility of purpose of an old Ivy League school. Harvard University (pronounced "hahvahd" by the cogniscenti) is not only accepting homeschooled students, but is willing to help assimilate them into "normal" society during their first year at the school.

On behalf of homeschooling families across the country, let me just thank Harvard for having the guts to admit that higher education is more about having sex than taking classes. Also, in a marvel of investigative reporting that only Mary Mapes could fully appreciate, your Woundup Weporter has uncovered evidence that Harvard University now considers homeschooling to be another form of compulsive substance abuse, similar to alcoholism. More on that later.

First, one must be grateful that truly visionary university administrators like Kathy Kushner dedicate their professional lives to making sure our backward children are properly introduced to the party-hearty life of a college student in the United States. At approximately $27,000 a year, parents want to know that their youngsters are well versed in the art of wasting time and money. It's a full package, really, that includes learning how not to appear smarter than your fellow classmates (or, no doubt, your professors), how not to appear awkward at your average pharm party, and how to increase your personal focus on sex. Perhaps Ms. Kushner hopes that the students will try to get it out of their systems earlier so they can buckle down to work by the time they reach their senior year.

It's unfortunate, if not unexpected, that so many homeschooled youths rebel at the thought of having such a prestigious institution treat them like inmates at a local juvenile detention center. Along with the socialization experiments, they are made to live in the same dorms as other homeschoolers. While not yet in evidence, it would not be unreasonable to believe that in the near future, homeschool freshmen will be required to wear striped uniforms and have stylized "H" emblems tattooed across their foreheads. The emblems would always be visible because the students' heads would be shaved prior to beginning their studies. Some university staffers are rumored to have been given "SS" pins to wear on their lapels.

Such segregation is unsurprising given Harvard dean James Muesten's opinion of homeschool families:
"Homeschooled children tend to come from white, evangelical families, and frankly, those people — I don't want to call them rubes — have a lot to learn about broader culture." He later retracted the comments, saying they were made "in the spirit of the interview" which was free-wheeling and "not entirely serious." He said he thought the Vermont newspaper was satirical and he had tried to "make a joke that turned out not to be funny." He apologized, but affirmed that the homeschool dorm was a good idea that would prove itself over the years.

"Fitting In is a great program," he said. "If you're homeschooled and you're coming to Harvard, this is the way it is."

At the same time freshmen are subjected to the school's "Fitting In" program, they also have an opportunity to recant their mistaken beliefs in such an obviously right-wing extremist form of education. Listed among the university's many associations and organizations is one entitled "Homeschoolers Anonymous." The official website for this group is disappointing, to say the least. I had expected to find at least a link to the 12 step program they must have designed to purge their initiates of all traces of homeschooled superiority. Instead, they offer the following mission statement:
Homeschoolers Anonymous is an organization dedicated to ensuring an active community that promotes the facilitation of a healthy transition from homeschooling to Harvard student life. We believe that by creating a network of support through this community of individuals who understand the issues surrounding this transition, we can foster the development of a positive foundation upon which a rich educational and social experience within the ivy walls of this hallowed institution that is Harvard University can be made. In addition, we also believe that it is our solemn duty to heighten awareness of homeschooling and the surrounding issues on our campus.

I work for a huge multinational aerospace corporation, and even we couldn't come up with such a convoluted and self-important collection of double talk. And we get paid to write this tripe!

So there you have it, homeschoolers of America. The halls of upper education are well represented by the arrogance of the king of Ivy League campuses. If Harvard is so accepting of homeschooled students, you can only imagine how the others will react. Perhaps they'd like to call a summit meeting to discuss the issue.

I plan to bring my pitchfork.

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