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January 11, 2012

Leaders, it's time to lead

While in Washington last week for the AALS convention, I was able to hear two law school leaders say these two things:  (1)  The U.S. News ratings are a false proxy for quality, they stifle innovation and degrade our service to students, are leading us to financial disaster, and are making us corrupt; and (2)  At my institution, I am doing everything I can to maintain or increase the US News rank of our school.

In other words, these leaders were both saying that the pursuit of rankings is corrupting and bad, and that they are complicit in it.   

To identify something as wrong, in such a profound way, and continue to serve that wrong ideal is poor leadership, it lacks integrity, and it serves as a terrible example to our students and communities.  All that we do as educators is a form of teaching, and what this is teaching is the accommodation of clearly bad principles. 

If you want to a lead a law school, damn it, then lead.  If that means rejecting the tyranny of the rankings, then do so.  Stop being complicit.  Lead the rebellion.  Quit in protest.  Stand for something.  Lead, already.

-- Mark Osler



January 11, 2012 | Permalink


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I've never been much into ranks. But of course, to other people, it means the world. And it definitely matters to those who are planning to go to law school. It surely affects one's opinion.

Posted by: Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney | Jan 11, 2012 2:12:46 PM

Mark, isn't this really the great question of our age: why, though everyone knows or ought to know that rankings and similar efforts to impose quantitative metrics on education is a fool's errand, did we all not fight against this from the start? Why instead did we allow rankings to shape the way we function in the law schools? Why, similarly, do parents, teachers, and school administrators submit to No Child Left Behind? It's pretty hard to operate outside of imposed structures, even if we're as smart as we think we are. I think this is a pretty interesting sociological question.

Posted by: Vladimir | Jan 11, 2012 3:38:19 PM

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