Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), come on down! Okay, I’m sure Senator Coburn wouldn’t put it this way, but you can count him as the latest Senate member who has joined the fight for something that the Occupy Wall Street people should really care about. He wants there to be more transparency when it comes to American law schools.
First, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) led the charge to try to get law schools to engage in some basic honesty when telling prospective students about the value of a law degree. Then Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) added his voice. That was important, as Grassley is the Republican leader on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
And now Coburn, another Republican on the Judiciary Committee, is joining in.
Democrats, Republicans, men, women, when will the ABA figure out that there will be broad support for law schools that are required to tell the truth about their graduate outcomes?
Law School Transparency has the story. Coburn wants the Department of Education to get into the game:
In a letter to the Inspector General of the Department of Education, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) have asked the IG to examine American law schools. The Senators will use the IG’s resulting report to inform Congress as it considers whether and how to reform the Higher Education Act.
One goal of this investigation is to better understand certain trends related to law schools over the past ten years. In particular, the Senators are concerned with the growth of enrollments and costs, budgets, graduate debt, bar passage rates, and employment rates. Notably, the Senators emphasize the importance of the legal employment rate.
These questions will point to unsettling answers. While we expect some of the trends to be relatively flat, including the percentage of people employed in legal jobs and bar passage rates, others will show a relatively steep incline.
It seems pretty obvious to me: if the American Bar Association is unable or unwilling to use its authority to regulate law schools, the Department of Education must take the power away from the ABA and do the job itself. If the ABA is too beholden to law school deans, then we need another regulator.
Look, it’s too bad that law school administrations cannot be trusted to be honest about their graduate outcomes in the first place. It’s disappointing that educators would so willingly use misleading facts. But they do, and now the DoEd needs to stop them.
Where’s the rest of the Senate Judiciary Committee on this? Where’s chairman Patrick Leahy? Are there Senators who think it’s okay for law schools to obfuscate graduate employment data? I think I’d like to know that before the next election.
Breaking: Coburn, Boxer Call for Department of Education to Examine Questions of Law School Transparency [Law School Transparency]