February 7, 2013
A "Bar Exam" for Educators: Not a Bad Idea to Punch Law Profs' Tickets to Ride for Being Suitable to Teach
The American Federation of Teachers is proposing a "bar exam" similar to the one wannbe lawyers have to pass before they can practice reports NPR's Claudio Sanchez in Union Backs 'Bar Exam' For Teachers. See also Constitutional Daily's Coming Soon: A Bar Exam for Teachers.
Not a bad idea for the legal academy; behind closed doors some law school deans probably would like to prune the dead wood. In public, however, even the reduction-in-force buzz word "downsizing" is used in a different context. Not a word about "down-right-sizing" faculty ranks. See, for example, Loyola-Chicago Dean Yellen's The Faculty Lounge post titled The Downsizing of Legal Education (Feb. 1, 2013)("It is tempting to say that we are downsizing [student enrollment] because it is the morally right thing to do, but that would not be honest. Any benefit to society or even to individual students from a single school’s downsizing will likely be mostly symbolic.") For a different take on the prospective law prof labor market by law profs, see Ethan Bronner's Law Schools’ Applications Fall as Costs Rise and Jobs Are Cut (NYT, Jan. 31, 2013).
Like the real world bar exam, testing could be a useful requirement for having to acquire and then being able to pull law profs' tickets to ride. While a lawyer's ticket can be pulled permanently or temporarily for getting "caught" at doing something that ultimately sounds in professional ethics after passing the bar, lifetime job security makes it substantially more difficult to do either in the teaching ranks of the legal academy. [JH]