Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hypocrisy Studies

Ken Oldfield, referred to below in connection with his book, Resilience, Queer Professors From the Working Class, is engaged in a long term project, "Hypocrisy Studies." An excerpt from his entry on Scalia, the man who equates silk purses with admission to elite schools, follows:

"Antonin Scalia, the U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Another of Reagan's contributions to "Trickle Down" economics. According to one source, "Scalia's ascent to the pinnacle of his profession was proclaimed by many as an example of the American dream" ("Antonin," 1999) coming true.

Hardly! Scalia is of very comfortable origins. Antonin's dad received his Ph.D. from Columbia University and was a professor of Romance languages at Brooklyn College. Justice Scalia's mother was an elementary school teacher. His parents sent Antonin to The Right Schools, including Xavier High School ($34,800), a tony Jesuit military academy in Manhattan. He received his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University ($171,752). While there, and as a Sheldon Fellow of Harvard, he studied at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland). Presumably, he went to Switzerland to learn more about poor people, the primary beneficiaries of trickle down economics.

After learning to appreciate how the bottom half lives, Antonin returned to the States. He received a law degree from Harvard ($146,544) in 1960 and that same year married an English major from Radcliffe College, Maureen McCarthy. Her father was a physician, which might help explain the Radcliffe connection.

In 1977, Scalia's deep and abiding commitment to fighting socialism carried Antonin to Washington, D.C., where he became a Resident Scholar with the American Enterprise Institute. From 1967-71, Scalia fell off the free market bandwagon and into the grips of socialism when he became a law professor at the publicly owned University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Over the years, he has also taught at several other law schools, institutions that were, probably just like the University of Virginia, brimming with students of poverty and working class origins, including Georgetown University, the University of Chicago and Stanford University."

Thanks Ken for allowing me to reprint this. But back on Scalia and and the silk purse quote (immediately below). First, there is something nice about Scalia slamming the elite schools. Second, just to keep the barnyard idea going. Relying on elite credentials is like buying a pig in a poke. In my time in teaching, I have seen way too many silk purses that were empty.


Anonymous said...

I guess the law and legal academia will always be filled with elitism.

For example, WESTERN STATE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW, as I understand it, have a large student body made of minorities. To get ABA accreditation, they had to increase bar passage rates. To accomplish this, they implemented foundation points, which is where students will have to attain a certain number of 2.5 scores (without curving the grades) in order to graduate.

Instead of improving faculty instructions, they have put the blame totally on the students. Who knows what this system will do to attrition rates.

Jeffrey Harrison said...

Interesting. At my school we raised the curve so high that, as a consequent, almost no students are on probation. This means they get no notice that they are in academic trouble and in danger of failing the bar exam. In the case of the school you are referring to is it possible that students with less than a 2.5 usually fail the bar exam? If so, perhaps the 2.5 is a way of alerting them they are in trouble. I know I'd like to know if I am likely to fail.

Anonymous said...

Hey there Jeffrey,

Western State University College of Law will not allow students to graduate unless they have a 2.5 or above in a certain number of courses (how many courses would depend on your graduation date).

The school says that, statistically, students with a less than 2.3 GPA will not graduate the bar.

I can see how warning students that they will fail is a good thing for students (i.e., If students do not get the required GPA, they no longer have to pay up and attend any longer and not waste time).

The problems with this program are as follows:
1) The statistics that the school presented regarding how less than 2.3 means you will not pass is based on students grades when they were curved; with the new program, there is no curving (inconsistent).
2) Not every student plans to take the bar.
3) Instead of better teacher instructions, there is an emphasis in "cherry picking" students.
4) Students in their 2L/3L/4L year have a high risk of not graduating, getting academic probation, or academically dismissed. Now this would really waste the students' time and money.
5) The school has prioritized bar passage rates (for ABA accreditation and "prestige") over students' quality of education.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with the above commenter. Western State College of Law (now they added "at Argosy University), absolutely does not care about their student's quality education. The school just accepts students to in order to get their precious money, which is mostly in the form of federal aid, and then drops more than half of every class in order to keep their bar passage rate high. Western State's attrition rate is notoriously high because not only are students dismissed after the first academic year for having below a 2.0 (which is the way it is at most law schools) but they dismiss many more students who do not fulfill their "Foundation Law Points" requirement. This school absolutely does not help their students, the administration just wants to take their students money and leave them high and dry. This law school is completely corrupt and unethical.

Plus, since the law school is owned by Argosy University, meaning that it is a for-profit law school, all they care about is their profit margin. Their business model is pretty much goes like this: Accept a lot students, take their money in the form of federal aid, and dismiss more than half of each class without disclosing their true attrition rate so that they can keep their ABA accreditation. This school should NOT have ABA accreditation and they should be sued for misrepresentation.