Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Where are you Daniel?

One thing that is interesting about the law school ranking B.S. published by USNews&WR is the absense of anyone to really blow the whistle that could put an end to the elitist-biased and deceptive process. I mean someone like Chesterfield Smith in the Nixon era or Daniel Elsberg and the Pentagon Papers. Actually, I am trying to think of an incident of political courage when the actor was bound to take heat but was willing to. I sure there may have been one (or several) in the last 40 years but it is hard to think of someone and in this case the stakes are so much smaller.

I'd like to see about 10 university presidents from highly ranked schools say they will not particpate. But I will not hold my breath because almost every academic I know treats life like a negotiation. You don't give unless you get.


Anonymous said...

Do you or any professors have any information that could show the manipulation of statistics that law schools go through to boost their rankings? I heard a rumor that UF will hire on recents grads who couldn't find work as professor research aids so that they can say that that student was employed after graduation. I hope this isn't true and I hope you can tell me so.

Jeffrey Harrison said...

No one is going to tell you straight up that it is doing what it is doing (as far as employment data) to boost rankings. As I understand it, it is a matter of record that Florida pays 26 or 28 students while they work for employers who do not pay. The payment is small. The program did not exist before the USNews ratings race. The Dean is open about the program and I am not sure, given the things other schools do to boost rankings that it is a bad idea. At least there is some possibility the grads will get real jobs.

If other things happen, I do not know but much of the impetus for the obsession with rankings comes from alums who cannot stand to see UF fall behind other schools in the state.

Before you condemn Uf you should know that the practice is not unique to UF, Search around a bit and you will find the details of SMU's program. More importantly, employment rate is but one of the factors that go into the US News rankings, It is widely know -- do a Google search -- that Schools are attempting to game the system on any of the measures that are vulnerable.

This train left the station so long ago I cannot say that I blame any school and especially UF for doing what it has to do to keep up. That is why I say it will not stop until a group of highly ranked university presidents say "enough."

Jeffrey Harrison said...

In response to your specific question, one professor told me that he was "assigned" a reseach assistant in order to boost the employment rate. Is this the truth? Who knows and is it that important?

Anonymous said...

"That is why I say it will not stop until a group of highly ranked university presidents say "enough.""
Horse Hockey. I think it could also stop if a large enough group of students said, "enough."
"The Dean is open about the program"
Which Dean? Dean Anyone, from The University of Anywhere may tell you that 99.9% of a certain years graduating class is employed. Then if you probe, he may admit that not all of them have legal jobs. Forty of those students are off to other grad programs. (think math quickly in your head while he changes the topic of conversation; this means out of a 400ish graduating class, 10% are in other grad programs. 90.9% employed so far.)
Then if you redirect the conversation back, and ask, So, how many students are employed in legal jobs? He may make you feel rude for interrupting him, then tell you he's getting to that. He will go on, saying things that would have impressed you if you were a prospective student, but it’s mostly vague mish-mash about the school grounds and such what-not.
How many are in legal jobs? He may say Most of them. (quick, think in your head; how many of them have legal jobs? No clue % employed so far.)
If you ask how many of those legal jobs are full-time employment? He may say, Oh, I don't know, not all of them.
If you write an e-mail to the editor of The U.S. News and World Reports about the rumors of their unhelpful ranking system they will not respond.
Based on experiences last summer.
We the Students at Everywhere University should start our own Ranking System.

Jeffrey Harrison said...

There really are two issues here. One is the market for lawyers over which no dean has control. So any anger must be toward nondisclosure. Three years ago when this year's angry people entered law school am not sure anyone knew it would be this bad so the anger about what was said then seems misplaced. If deans are now fudging the numbers I sympathize. And I completely agree that avoiding the questions is unethical.