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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

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This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Friday, March 03, 2023

Defending Its Rankings, U.S. News Takes Aim at Top Law Schools

Defending Its Rankings, U.S. News Takes Aim at Top Law Schools

The publication accuses Yale and other schools of trying to evade accountability — and sidestep a likely end to affirmative action — by opting out of its ratings.

The facade of the library at Harvard Law School.
Harvard Law School is among the institutions that decided to stop giving data to U.S. News.Vanessa Leroy for The New York Times

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U.S. News & World Report said little last fall as Yale, Harvard and other elite law schools announced that they would no longer submit data to the publication’s rankings, charging that the influential list was an engine of inequality.

But in the last few days, U.S. News has fired back. In a public-relations campaign, the publication has accused the schools of trying to avoid accountability on admissions and outcomes for students, and it connected the boycott to a looming Supreme Court decision that could end affirmative action.

“Some law deans are already exploring ways to sidestep any restrictive ruling by reducing their emphasis on test scores and grades — criteria used in our rankings,” Eric J. Gertler, the executive chairman and chief executive of U.S. News, wrote in an opinion essay on Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal.

The conflict is a sign that U.S. News will not shy away from vigorously defending the rankings, which are criticized by many universities but are popular with families — making them potentially another flash point in the country’s divisive debate over education issues.

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On Wednesday, Harvard Law School held a conference on the rankings that was largely critical and alluded to some of the schools’ complaints: that the rankings used a misleading measure of student debt that schools could game by admitting more paying students; that the emphasis on grades and test scores encouraged merit aid, to the detriment of need-based aid; and that the methodology undermined efforts to support public interest careers for graduates. (U.S. News has already promised to address some of those criticisms.)

At the conference, the keynote speaker, Miguel Cardona, the education secretary, attacked the publication. “It’s time to stop worshiping at the false altar of U.S. News & World Report,” he said. “It’s time to focus on what truly matters — delivering value and upward mobility.”

But U.S. News had already responded that morning, in a full-page advertisement in The Boston Globe. In an open letter to Mr. Cardona, the publication defended the rankings and called for law schools to release even more data. It took a dig at the high cost of getting a law degree, saying, “As tuition continues to skyrocket, students require reliable information to guide them in their decision-making process.”

Mr. Gertler’s opinion essay, published the day before, was even sharper, suggesting that elite law and medical schools wanted to be able to admit students with lower test scores and grades if, as expected, the Supreme Court were to rule against affirmative action in two cases now pending against Harvard and the University of North Carolina.

The schools say their complaints are based on principle.

“We have never paid attention to U.S. News and its rankings,” Heather Gerken, the dean of Yale Law School, said in an interview on Thursday. “What we are talking about are the values of legal education and the profession.”

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Mr. Gertler, of U.S. News, said the goal of the rankings was to use data to measure the return on investment for students, not necessarily to measure the values that deans wanted to inculcate.

“We value public interest service,” he said in an interview on Thursday. “But many go to law school to go into private practice, so that needs to be measured too.”

The revolt against the rankings began in November, as Yale Law School announced that it would no longer cooperate by giving data to U.S. News. Harvard followed within hours, joined within days by the law schools at Stanford, Georgetown, Columbia and the University of California, Berkeley, with more to follow. Among the schools that dropped out were many that had consistently been in the top 14 of the U.S. News list, out of about 200 schools.

In January, Harvard Medical School announced that it would also withdraw from the rankings, and other elite medical schools, like those at Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania, followed.

Some law school deans said that the rankings had helped distinguish them in the eyes of prospective students.

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Peter B. Rutledge, dean of the University of Georgia law school, said his school would continue to participate in the rankings because they are a source of consumer information and because in the past, they had showcased the relatively low student debt of the school’s graduates. After the law schools announced their boycott, U.S. News said it would no longer consider student debt or spending per student.

“That is the subject of every kitchen table conversation that applicants and their families have in deciding to pursue a law degree,” Mr. Rutledge said.

He argued that a school like his, which he said leaves nearly half of its graduates debt-free, “is doing a better job for society” than schools that send graduates into public service jobs where loans will be forgiven after 10 years.

But, he added, the U.S. News rankings did not influence the school’s policies. “I categorically reject that proposition,” he said. “We all just have to do a hard job with a certain amount of moral courage.”

At the conference, the big question was: If law schools abandoned the U.S. News rankings en masse, what would replace them as a guide for consumers?

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Ms. Gerken, the Yale Law School dean, and other participants suggested that the data gathered by the American Bar Association already provided good information for prospective applicants. The data provided on the bar association website, however, does not allow someone to easily compare one law school with another, and it lacks the emotional punch of number rankings like the one used by U.S. News.

Other data sources that participants suggested, such as Law School TransparencyXploreJD and the Law School Admission Council, are similarly cumbersome.

One of the panelists, Deidré A. Keller, dean and professor of law at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, a historically Black university in Tallahassee, said that the rankings’ emphasis on LSAT scores, grade point averages and selectivity was “inherently problematic” for her school. To make selectivity a hallmark of quality, she added, “we would have to be acting against our mission.”

More important, she said, was the support students received from the school to succeed.

“We have a mission to diversify the profession,” she said. At least one panelist, though, warned that a new ranking system might not be the answer. Christopher Norio Avery, who teaches microeconomics and statistics at Harvard’s Kennedy School, said changing the system “has exciting upside possibilities, but may have a range of unintended consequences.”

Alain Delaquérière contributed research“

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