In the March 18th issue of the Wall Street Journal, an article appeared entitled “Law Schools Face Scrutiny on Job Claims.” The essence of the article was that numerous law schools were misrepresenting the percentage of legal jobs available to their graduate students. The higher the percentage of jobs available, the more likely that college applicants will choose a law school with an attractive percentage of law firms or government jobs available.
The reason for the “scrutiny” is because the designated law schools were fudging the figures by providing non-legal jobs paid for by the law school to graduates to increase the percentage without revealing that these temporary jobs were with non-profit companies and others that often expired within a year of graduation. After spending three years and loads of money to become a lawyer, the students deserve honesty from their law schools.
What is wrong with this scenario? As I point out in “Ethical Meltdown,” this type of arrangement violates a rule of ethics known as “Conflict of Interest.” A conflict of interest occurs when there is a situation in which an individual or corporation (or law school) is in a position to exploit a professional or official capacity in some way for personal benefit.
When law schools violate this ethical rule, this should be a wake-up call for the Dean, the professors who teach ethics, and for the Board of Regents, many of whom are probably law graduates from the schools in question.
Mitch Daniels is the outgoing Governor of Indiana and the incoming President of Purdue University. I find it amazing that Daniels has negotiated a compensation arrangement that is based on the performance of clear cut goals. Those include: graduation rates, student affordability, faculty hiring and achievement, and philanthropic support. If Daniels meets all of his goals, and collects a 30% bonus, he will still be ranked tenth in compensation among the Big Ten Presidents (See Wall Street Journal, Jan. 9, 2013, page A12).
According to the Journal, “nationwide the number of [academic] bureaucrats has increased ten times faster over the last decade than people hired to do the actual teaching and research.” At Purdue over the past eleven years, the number of administrators has increased 62% while the number of professors increased by only 8%.
Is it surprising that our American student loan debt is now over one trillion dollars? Mitch Daniels deserves a gold medal for placing the financial wellbeing of Purdue above his own.
Randi Weingarten, the President of the American Federation of Teachers wrote an Op ed. piece in the Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2012, entitled “How About a Bar Exam for Teachers?”. Her proposal was to require teachers to pass a certification exam before allowing them into the classroom, for which, in most cases, they are ill prepared for success. The next day in the Journal there were several letters to the editor ranging from mild approval to strong opposition.
I have never been a fan of Ms. Weingarten’s “take no prisoners” approach to union leadership, but I do believe she has made an important suggestion. Teachers who are fresh out of college are not prepared to handle students effectively without improved training. If they had to pass a Teaching Bar Exam, this would force colleges to modify their curriculum to accomplish a higher level of preparation.
Another goal that could be achieved would be to include as a significant section of the exam, the demonstration of the ability to teach ethics. The missing element in our school systems is the teaching of ethics to our future political leaders, as well as our potential leaders in every other aspect of our American society.