Thursday, August 22, 2013
Above the Law, Should The Obama Rankings Be Applied To Law Schools?, by Elie Mystal:
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. We’ve talked extensively about the outsized power the U.S. New rankings have on higher education. Normally we talk about it in the context of law schools, but they’re just as important in college admissions.
Now, there’s a going to be a new challenger to U.S. News: The President of the United States. And yes, in a battle between USN and POTUS, I think POTUS is the clear underdog.
Today, Obama will unveil various proposals he hopes will drive down the cost of college tuition, a problem that his administration has been shockingly silent on. The centerpiece of his proposal is a new college rankings system that will rate schools on “tuition, graduation rates, debt and earnings of graduates, and the percentage of lower-income students who attend,” according to the New York Times.
Eventually, Obama hopes to tie these Obama Rankings to federal financial aid: schools that perform well will have a larger pool of federal money to dole out to students, while schools that perform poorly will have less money to play with.
Does this sound like a good idea? Would you like to see Obama apply it to law schools? ... More than a government-run rankings, in the law school context a lot of good could be done simply by government imposed transparency. Wouldn’t you like to know the default rates and the average indebtedness of the graduates of each law school? If the government forces law schools to be honest and transparent with what they are actually doing, I feel like there are more than enough for-profit publications (ahem) that can make rankings a little more valuable than those of U.S. News. Tying aid money to rankings would be a neat government trick if Obama can pull it off, but I do fear that many students would just make up any financial aid shortfall with private loans if they have their heart set on a low value school.