Saturday, May 26, 2012

Good Riddance to the Five Paragraph Essay?

Here’s a short piece directed at K-12 teachers arguing against teaching the five paragraph essay.  That formula too constricting and artificial. I would say the same about the five sentence paragraph.

After high school, I doubt that many students follow these formulas, because they are too limiting. Do Legal Writing professors teach formulas for writing that virtually no students follow in real life? I submit that IRAC and its variants fall in this category. Maybe formulas like IRAC and how-to-write-a-case-brief have value in the very early days of law school. However, we should encourage students to move on fairly quickly.

(ljs)

May 26, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Did you know there's a style-guide for Twitter authors?

You can find it at 140Characters.com and Amazon. It is authored by one of the people behind Twitter. Here's the publisher's abstract:

The advent of Twitter and other social networking sites, along with the ubiquity of text messaging, have made short-form communication and constant contact an everyday reality. Expressing yourself clearly in short bursts—particularly within Twitter's 140 character limit—takes special writing skill.

 

For marketers and business owners, social media and text messaging have become an increasingly important avenue for promoting a business, but you have to be able to get your message out in just a few words. 140 Characters is the first writing guide specifically dedicated to communicating with customers, colleagues, and contacts with the succinctness and clarity that the times demand.

 

Twitter User #9 Dom Sagolla teaches the lessons of great short-form writing, including the importance of communicating with simplicity, openness, and humor. What Strunk and White's Elements of Style did for traditional media, 140 Characters does for the social media revolution happening today. Inside, you'll learn all the basics of:

 

  • Developing your own honest and unique writing style

  • Evolving rules of grammar for the short form

  • Principles of brevity, including tech-speak/leetspeak

  • Avoiding the too-much-information syndrome

  • Mastering the art of the text message

  • Winning techniques for writing poetry, news, fiction, and much more

(jbl).

May 26, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 25, 2012

"Critical thinking has to include assessing one’s own thinking.”

Andrew Revkin has an important observation on critical thinking on a New York Times blog: “Critical thinking has to include assessing one’s own thinking.”  This is an important lesson for us to teach our students.   If our students can develop this ability, they are truly independent thinkers. 

This observation is in an article concerning The National Academy of Sciences conference, The Science of Science Communication, held earlier this week.  The article includes a video of a talk by Daniel Kanheman entitled "Thinking that We Know."  Revkin summarizes the talk:

"The talk is extraordinary for the clarity (and humor) with which he repeatedly illustrates the powerful ways in which the mind filters and shapes what we call information. He discusses how this relates to the challenge of communicating science in a way that might stick."

(Scott Fruehwald)

May 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A new law school plans to open while another cuts its class size significantly

We've previously told you about plans to open a new law school in Fort Wayne, Indiana (here) bringing the total number of law schools in that state to 5 and bringing the total number of schools within a 3 hour drive of Fort Wayne to 7. (here). The National Law Journal is reporting that ground has now been broken for the new Indiana Tech School of Law facility which is scheduled to open for business in fall, 2013.

Indiana Tech is one step closer to opening its new law school.

The Fort Wayne, Ind., university planned to break ground on May 18 on the $15 million, 70,000-square-foot building that will house its law school, which is projected to open in the fall of 2013.

Founding dean Peter Alexander, who served as dean of Southern Illinois University School of Law from 2003 to 2009, said the plans call for 100 students to enroll during the first year, with a five-student increase during each of the next four years. The school has yet to launch a formal recruiting push, he said, but he has made numerous visits around the Midwestern region from which the school expects to draw nearly all of its students.

In other news, Vivia Chen over at the Careerist blog reports that a mere 3.5 hours away from Fort Wayne via the interstate, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law is planning to cut the fall's incoming class by 30%.

Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law is joining the list of "rational" law schools that are cutting enrollment. The school's dean, Craig Boise, just announced that the school is cutting its incoming class by an impressive 30 percent! That's even more than UC-Hasting Law School, which recently announced a 20 percent reduction in its incoming class.

These are strange times indeed.

(jbl).

May 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bad Sleep Habits Cause “Social Jetlag”

We all know that bad sleep habits aren’t good for us or our students. But, keeping those late hours may have worse consequences that we realize. They result in “social jetlag”:

Researchers led by Till Roenneberg of the University of Munich analyzed sleep logs of more than 65,000 Europeans ages 10 to 80. They found that weekly average sleep plummets between ages 10 and 20, largely because of increased social and work obligations. More than 80 percent, the researchers found, used an alarm clock to wake during the week, indicating that they had to wake earlier than their natural sleep cycle, and those with a later circadian rhythm, such as teenagers, had even more disrupted sleep patterns.

Most of the study participants tried to pay off their sleep deficit on the weekend, staying out later at night and sleeping and eating later on Saturday and Sunday. This created what Roenneberg and his colleagues called "social jetlag," because the Monday-morning drag was similar in both cause and effect to flying West several timezones on Saturday and flying back again Monday morning:

"The symptoms of jetlag (e.g., problems in sleep, digestion and performance) are manifestations of a misaligned circadian system. In travel-induced jetlag, they are transient until the clock re-entrains. In contrast, social jetlag is chronic throughout a working career."

I keep more regular  hours than I used to, but my Sunday afternoons have the feeling of  social jetlag.  Here’s the story from Inside School Research.

(ljs)

May 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Educational Quality is the Next Great Frontier

Bill Henderson writes the following on the Legal WhiteBoard in an article on high student debt:

"My own belief is that educational quality is the next great frontier. If we can put a man on the moon in the 1960s, surely with four years and $120K we can turn a reasonably able and motivated 22 year old into a critical thinker who can reliably communicate, collaborate, gather facts, assess data, lead, follow, and approach problems with both empathy and objectivity.  Further, improving quality changes the debate from "how much does higher education cost?" to "how much is higher education worth?"  And if the worth is sufficiently high, both public and private employers would be willing to subsidize it in exchange for preferred access to graduates.  

The only barrier is institutional focus.  To make this happen, a university has to take an "Apollo Project" approach that focuses purely on education.  After figuring out the "how high" and "how fast" possibilities, an institution could then focus on controlling costs through process improvements and building modules.  First quality (worth), then cost.  This is not trade school education; this is about fully exploring human potential.

The first university to break into this space will have a profoundly disruptive effect [on] the rest of higher education. The future of higher education is education."

I hope Professor Henderson is right.  Those of us who have taught first-year law students over the last twenty years know that students are very unprepared for law school.  They have not been taught to think; they have been taught to regurgitate.  Knowledge is important, but to survive in the modern world one must be able to apply knowledge.

In the Middle Ages, the first universities were centers of knowledge.  Their function was to preserve knowledge, not to prepare students to live in the real world.  Colleges and universities have, in many ways, retained their original function.  It is now time for universities to turn out critical thinkers.  The same, of course, is true of law schools.

(Scott Fruehwald)

P.S.  I am reminded of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.   In Bradbury's futuristic vision, books are banned, and, whenever a book is found, it is burned.  A group of people memorize books so that they can preserve them for the future when books while come back into vogue.  In Bradbury's vision this memorization was necessary to preserve civilization.  In our own time, we need to do much more.

May 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday Fun – Follow Creative Writing Professors on Twitter

If you need a change of pace in your reading for the summer, here is an interesting post from the Creative Type blog on Boston.com listing 50 creative writing professors to follow on Twittter.

“Writers love Twitter. The reason? We work in solitary confinement--a short distance from the fridge and coffeemaker and often with a dog or cat or two to keep us company while we stare at a screen. Twitter is our water cooler, our cocktail party, our cafe. So when we need a break and want to talk about books and other things literary, many of us turn to Twitter. And with its 140-character limit, Twitter sharpens our wordsmithing and can even be a source of inspiration.”

There are several writers listed.  You can also see the “top 50” at WorldWideLearn here.


(dkh)

May 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Survey reveals digital habits of college students (and lack of class prep)

A survey by a commercial publisher of e-textbooks shows how reliant college students have become on digital devices as well as web-based technology like online courses. More than 500 currently enrolled college students responded to the survey conducted on behalf of the publisher  CourseSmart.  Among the key findings:

  • Nearly all college students (98%) who own a digital device have used it for school.
  • A majority of these students (53%) read e-textbooks frequently.
  • 90% of college students say they save time studying with technology -- including mobile devices, digital textbooks, eReaders and tablets.
  • A majority 0f students (67%) say they can't go more than one hour without using some sort of digital technology.
  • 40% of the students surveyed say they cannot last more than 10 minutes without using such a device.
  • A majority of students (51%) say they are more likely to bring a laptop to class than a traditional, hardcopy textbook (39%).
  • Nearly 3 in 5 students (58%) report that they frequently are unable to complete required reading in time for class.
  • 58% of students report having taken an online course and were motivated to do so because they could take the class on their own time (63%), they didn't have to be physically present to take the class (48%) and because it allowed them to learn at their own pace (47%).

You can read the press release here containing a summary of all the results courtesy of the WSJ's MarketWatch.com.

Hat tip to Inside Higher Ed.

(jbl).

May 24, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Is the Job Market Improving for College Grads?

The most recent statistics suggest as much:

Between September 2008 and August 2010, 6.9 million American jobs were eliminated. In the last year and a half, 3.1 million jobs have been created. The strengthening job market has made a big difference to seniors who are job-hunting in their final semester.

The unemployment rate for college graduates 24 and under averaged 7.2 percent from January through April. That rate, which is not adjusted for seasonal factors, is down from the first four months of 2011 (9.1 percent), 2010 (8.1 percent) and 2009 (7.8 percent.) For all Americans, the unemployment rate is 8.1 percent.

What do these numbers tell us about the legal job  market and about whether young people are more  likely to assume the expense of going to law school? Here is the article from the Chicago Tribune.

(ljs)

May 24, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Deborah Jones Merritt on Client-Centered Law Schools

Deborah Jones Merritt argues that law school curriculum decisions should be client-centered in a post at Inside the Law School Scam.  She makes four suggestions for reform.  She states, "The first step is simply to embrace client needs as a measuring stick for curriculum decisions. . . .   If we candidly examined the law school curriculum from that perspective, we might scratch our heads at many of the things we do. Equally important, we might be forced to admit that we don't have a clue what clients want or which pedagogies address those needs--and we might be forced to find out."

Next, she declares, "The second step is to bring clients into the curriculum. . . .  I would add a client-contact course to the first year of law school, even if one of the traditional doctrinal courses has to move to the second year. This course, like the ones taught in medical schools, would allow students first to practice client interactions with individuals assuming client roles."

"Third, I would seek new models to add hands-on professional work to legal education. . . .  I can imagine smaller initiatives involving partnerships between law schools and particular employers. While pursuing these ideas, I would also modestly expand our in-house clinical offerings. The in-house clinics are valuable because of the intense supervision and opportunities for reflection that students receive."

"Fourth, I would rethink the teaching of every doctrinal course. . . .  And even in the first year, where learning to read cases and statutes should remain a primary focus, there are ways to make the curriculum more client centered. One of my very creative colleagues begins his fall-semester legal writing course by asking his 1L students to read a 37-page stock purchase agreement to determine whether the purchaser has certain rights against the seller. . . .  This exercise occurs in a legal writing class (and, yes, in the very first week of law school), but it could have been assigned in courses on contracts, mergers, or environmental law (the contractual dispute relates to the costs of hazardous waste remediation). Why do we assign so many cases in law school and so few documents of other kinds?"

Her other suggestions include: "(a) academic prerequisites to law school admission; (b) upper-level "uncasebooks" that teach the law without appellate opinions; (c) courses on law practice management and trends in the business of law; (d) law practice shadowing opportunities; (e) introductions to more of the technologies used in law practice; and (f) requiring every full-time faculty member and top-level administrator to demonstrate ongoing proficiency in the rules of professional responsibility."

She concludes, "How will we pay for these changes? Not through increased tuition. I would ask all tenured faculty to recognize the disproportionate amount of time we have devoted to research during the last twenty years and to "give back" some of that time by spending a disproportionate amount of time on pedagogic reform over the next three years. Going forward, I would reduce the amount of time and money we devote to research rather than teaching. I strongly support academic research; despite its critics, research too benefits clients and society. But there were many law professors who produced outstanding scholarship before 1980; indeed, their work still influences us. Those professors generated their scholarship with heavier teaching loads, less research support, and no computers. I think we can match those standards today--and even retain our computers."

I agree with Professor Merritt that we should be more client-centered.  The main purpose of law schools is to turn out lawyers that can serve society, and even state bars are beginning to realize that we aren't.  I like her emphasis on reforming the first year, but I do not agree that law students should have client contact during the first year; they just aren't ready yet.  Rather, they should apply their knowledge to analyzing documents (as she suggests) and to using exercises to apply the law to the facts (as I have suggested here several times).

Finally, Merritt is correct that we will have to make changes to pay for the reforms.  While this may require sacrifices for professors, law schools should exist for students and society and the Langdellian Bargain must end.  

(Scott Fruehwald)

May 24, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

ABA releases survey of state responses to UPL claims noting increase in complaints about online legal document providers

The ABA Standing Committee on Client Protection has just released its survey of state responses to complaints pertaining to the unlicensed practice of law. You can access the full report here.  Questionnaires were sent to all jurisdictions to learn what states are doing in response to UPL complaints. Of the 29 states that responded, the ABA not surprisingly noted an increase in complaints about online legal document providers allegedly offering improper, unlicensed legal services. The BNA Electronic Commerce and Law Report offers the following summary (subscription required):

[T]he 2012 survey results . . . revealed an uptick in complaints regarding an emerging area of concern: documents and counseling provided by online services.

These responses reflect what some experts have long predicted: that the rapid proliferation of online services and the increased accessibility of research tools will soon force bar associations and courts to squarely confront the implications of a growing “do-it-yourself” ethos where legal issues are concerned. At least four state bar committees have found that companies that prepare customized legal documents seemed to have overstepped bounds and contravene UPL prohibitions.

Online legal companies typically maintain that the provision of legal forms does not constitute legal advice and that their services are thus not characterizable as the practice of law.

But the ethics committees that have faulted these online providers for UPL violations note that legal advice inheres in the selection of appropriate forms and in the customization of those forms, which is frequently done with the help of customer service representatives who may be nonlawyers or out-of-jurisdiction lawyers.

Even if that remote assistance is provided by lawyers, authorities have noted, they walk a thin line by rendering advice in response to a specific legal question while claiming to provide “general” information and operating under disclaimers that purport to limit the duties that might otherwise be owed to online clients in the typical attorney-client context.

For previous posts about UPL claims involving LegalZoom, click here and here.

(jbl).

May 23, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

It seems like only yesterday . . . .

In today’s edition of The New York Times, the obituary for Eugene T. Polley, inventor of the TV remote, contains an implicit message that in the wake of generational and technological change, a careful writer must remember (as did the obit writer in this instance) that references to knowledge an earlier generation takes for granted might, if not put in context, leave succeeding generations puzzled:

      Flash-Matic made the TV audience less captive, though also less active. For the first time, viewers could comfortably exercise dominion over sound and image without simultaneously exercising the body on the march between couch and dial.
      (The “dial” was a round thing with numbers on it — all the way up to 13 — by which viewers changed the channel through the direct application of fingers and wrist. One did not so much surf channels in those days as ride their gentle swells with all due deliberateness.)
Which reminds me . . . . time once again to watch Alfred Hitchcock’s classic crime thriller, “double-click M for Murder” — or is it “text M for Murder”? I can never remember, what with things changing so quickly.

(cgw)

May 23, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Is Pizza a Vegetable?

There's a lesson here on the elasticity of words. During an earlier federal administration, government bureaucrats declared that for purposes of school lunches, catsup was a vegetable. The cynical laugher that followed destroyed that initiative. But, did you know that the tomato sauce on pizza counts as a vegetable?

In response to congressional action last fall that allows a small amount of tomato paste to count as a serving of vegetables in school meals—and in turn making a slice of pizza the equivalent of a half-cup of broccoli on lunch trays—U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat, introduced a bill Monday that would put an end to the practice.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture had wanted to end a provision in school meal rules that allowed 1/8 cup of tomato paste on a slice of pizza to count as 1/8 cup, rather than 1/2 cup of vegetables. The switch would have matched the rules for tomato paste with those for all other fruit and vegetable pastes and purees.

Congress, however, blocked that switch. Here’s the article from Education Week. Pizza is popular at my law school cafeteria, a high-quality operation. The chefs must use more than one-eighth of a cup of sauce, because the pizza is sometimes pretty sloppy.

(ljs)

May 23, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Massachusetts bar task force says third year of law school should focus more on practical training

And that in general, law schools should do more throughout the curriculum to provide a more practical education including more opportunities to practice legal writing after the first year. The ABA Journal Blog has the story.

Mass. Bar Task Force: Legal Education Could Take a Page from Medical Education’s Book

The Massachusetts Bar Association's Task Force on the Law, the Economy and Underemployment released a report last week exploring the causes of and solutions for underemployment of law school graduates.

The task force, made up of 12 licensed lawyers, one law student and one university pre-law adviser devoted six months to the report, titled "Beginning the Conversation" (PDF) and focused to a certain extent on how law schools contribute to the problem.

. . . .

The third year of law school should focus more on practical training, the report said. “The task force recommends that the MBA encourage Bay State law schools to reinvent the third year so as to provide greater opportunities for law students to gain practical legal experience and expand opportunities to hone their legal writing skills, beyond that offered through traditional first-year legal writing programs.”

Task force co-chair Eric Parker of Boston-based Parker Scheer told Boston Business Journal that it's no wonder that physicians and dentists graduate ready to earn. “They have marketable skills that people want to pay for. By contrast, we found that law graduates come out with a generic exposure to legal theory and lack the experience and practical training that converts into a marketable skill.”

The report also recommends the creation of a legal residency program. "In such a program, recent law school graduates could apply for legal residency positions with Massachusetts law firms participating in residency training."

You can read what the task force has to say about the relationship between law school admission policies and the number of unemployed law grads by clicking here.

(jbl).

May 22, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Writing tip of the day - "effect versus affect"

You probably already know that if you're using it as a noun, "effect" is almost always correct. And if you're using it as a verb, "affect" is the safe bet (though there are exceptions). But here's an additional tip for deciding which to choose that you may not have heard of before; if you can put the word "good" or "bad" in front and it still makes sense, it's probably "effect" that you intend to use. From Lynn Gaertner-Johnson's Business Writing blog:

People in business writing classes have been asking for ways to know whether affect or effect is correct. Here are my best tips for choosing the appropriate word.

If you are choosing a noun, your correct choice will be effect 99 percent of the time.

  • The medicine had no effect on her condition.
  • In the lab it is difficult to duplicate the effect of the weather on the siding.
  • This change will have no effect on your retirement funds.
  • This setting softens the harsh effect of the ceiling lights.
  • His mood always has an effect on mine.

If it is not easy for you to distinguish between a noun (a person, place, thing, or idea) and a verb (a word that generally shows action), here is a tip: If you can insert the word bad or good in front of the word and it makes sense, it is a noun.

Applying the bad or good tip to choosing affect or effect, if you can insert bad or good in front of the word, 99 percent of the time your correct choice will be effect. Examples:

  • The medicine had no [good] effect on her condition.
  • In the lab it is difficult to duplicate the [bad] effect of the weather on the siding.
  • This change will have no [bad] effect on your retirement funds.
  • This setting softens the [bad] effect of the ceiling lights.
  • His mood always has a [good] effect on mine.

Compare these sentences, in which neither bad nor good makes sense before the word without restructuring the sentence. That means you need affect, the verb:

  • The medicine does not affect her condition.
  • The weather affects the siding.
  • This change will not affect your retirement funds.
  • The ceiling lights affect the feeling of the room.
  • His mood always affects mine.

If your word ends in -ed or -ing, it is probably a verb. That verb will nearly always be affected or affecting.

Continue reading here to learn about the exceptions to these general rules.   Grammar Girl also has some "quick and dirty" tips for distinguishing between the two also.

(jbl).

May 22, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Is Facebook Just a Fad?

According to an msn story, half of all adults think so.

Even if Americans "Like" Facebook -- more than 40 percent of adults log in at least once a week -- they don't necessarily think their love will last. Half of us believe Facebook is just a passing fad, according to an Associated Press-CNBC poll. Half also think the social network's $100 billion valuation (more than Ford or Kraft or Disney) is overblown. But how many people actually use Facebook may simply be a factor of age. While only 21 percent of senior citizens and half of baby boomers have Facebook accounts, two-thirds of Gen X'ers and a remarkable 81 percent of those ages 18 to 35 do. 81 percent? Put that in your news feed.

Virtually all my students have subscribed to Facebook. And, of course, they have been warned that whatever they post—even if password  protected—may be accessed  by potential employers, who may  request the password.

A word to students who are externing for judges or government bodies: Delete from your social media accounts any postings concerning forthcoming elections, including plebiscites. Keep it completely nonpolitical.

(ljs)

May 22, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Google Docs Research Tool

This post from Prof. Hacker of The Chronicle of Higher Education reviews the new Google Docs Research Tool.

“The new feature puts a new option in the Tools menu within a Google Doc called “Research.” To use it, you first highlight a word or phrase (or, as in the image below, a large chunk of text like a poem) in the document you’re writing, then click Tools –> Research... This performs a Google Search on the highlighted words, the results of which pop up in a right-hand sidebar….

Clicking on one of the results in that search will give you three options: Preview, Link, and Citation. Clicking Preview brings up a preview of the site; clicking Link turns the text you’ve highlighted into a link to the site; and, most importantly for our nefarious academic purposes, clicking Citation adds a footnote citing that site.”

Although the reviewer points out several limitations, it seems like a useful tool.  I would especially encourage students to use it as they work on their research to at least record their web resources.  It captures enough information to put together a proper Bluebook citation.

(dkh)

May 22, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 21, 2012

The lawyering skill of "reason-giving"

Professor Donald Kochan of Chapman has posted a new essay on SSRN entitled "The 'Reason-Giving' Lawyer". The abstract is below.  The author welcomes your comments.

Whether as a matter of duty or utility, lawyers give reasons for their actions all the time. In the various venues in which legal skills must be employed, reason giving is required in some, expected in others, desired in many, and useful in most. This Essay underscores the pervasiveness of reason giving in the practice of law and the consequent necessity of lawyers developing a skill at giving reasons.

This Essay examines reason giving as an innate human characteristic related directly to our need for answers and our constant yearning to understand the answer to the question “why.” It briefly surveys the scholarship on reason-giving, including an analysis of its presence in law and legal institutions. Understanding then that reason-giving is a skill required for effective lawyering, the Essay proceeds to emphasize the pedagogical importance of (a) teaching an understanding of reason-giving’s prevalence in law; and, (b) nurturing the discrete habit and skill of reason giving in legal education as a foundational trait of good lawyering. The Essay concludes with a case study equating the law school exam taking process with administrative law decisionmaking and law school grading with the process of judicial review of agency action. Agency is to student as judge is to law professor.

Greater recognition of the role of the reason giving lawyer – along with recognition and strengthening of the parts of legal education that help inculcate the reason giving skill – should improve our understanding of when, how, and under what conditions reason giving must occur for the effective functioning of the legal system and for effective lawyering.

(jbl).

May 21, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

LSAT Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities

LSA grants  test-taking accommodations for people with challenges.  However, last February, the ABA passed a resolution calling on LSAC to be more generous in granting accommodations in order to “best ensure that the exam results reflect what the exam is designed to measure, and not the test taker's disability." LSAC’s  response was less  than enthusiastic:

But Wendy Margolis, the LSAC's director of communications, called the resolution an "oversimplification of the issues" around accommodating test-takers with disabilities.

"LSAC believes that the ABA's Commission and House of Delegates based their report and resolution on outdated, incomplete information that does not accurately reflect current practices and does not take into account the actual experiences of disabled test takers," Margolis said.

Here is a recent story  of an LSAT applicant who argues that LSAC did not  grant him enough extra time in light of his challenges.

Meanwhile, accommodations are on the rise for ACT and SAT students.

During the 2010-11 school year, 5 percent of all test takers were provided with some feature that was intended to adapt the test to their needs, ACT spokesman Ed Colby said, compared with 3.5 percent of test takers in the 2007-08 school year.

The numbers of requests have been rising among SAT takers, too, along with an increase in test takers overall. Once students are approved for an accommodation, they don't have to reapply. Of new requests—almost 80,000 during the 2010-11 school year, compared with 10,000 fewer five years earlier—about 85 percent are approved, said Kathleen Steinberg, the spokeswoman for the College Board. The ACT said roughly 90 percent of requests made are granted

 Here’s the story.

(ljs)

May 21, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Carl Bogus's Bizarre Defense of Elizabeth Warren

Carl Bogus has posted a defense of Elizabeth Warren's claim to minority status here.  Brian Leiter has cited Bogus's post approvingly here.

Professor Bogus writes, "So here’s my theory. (And I stress this is only a theory.) At some point during the hiring process, Warren mentioned to one of the people from Penn that she had a great-great-great grandmother who was Cherokee. She didn't mention this because she thought it would make Penn hire her. She knew it was too inconsequential to matter. She also knew that claiming to be Native American when she was only 1/32 Cherokee, if examined by a hiring committee, would make her look foolish and be more likely to hurt rather than help her chances of being hired. She mentioned her great-great-grandmother simply because it was interesting. When Penn extended an offer of employment, however, it asked her to list herself as a minority. This wasn't of earth-shaking importance; but it did improve Penn’s statistics for AALS. Though she privately wasn't happy about it, Warren agreed. She listed herself as Native American on her next AALS form, while she was still at Texas but on her way to Penn, and continued to so list herself for the nine years she was at Penn. As far as she knew, no one at Harvard was even aware of that listing; so when she moved to Harvard in 1995, she immediately stopped listing herself as a minority."

Not only is this explanation pure speculation, it contradicts what Warren said herself. I find it bizzare that a Warren supporter would provide a reason for Warren claiming minority status when she provided an explanation for her claim:  "On Wednesday, she told reporters that she listed herself as such to connect with others like her, 'people for whom native American is part of their heritage and part of their hearts. There aren’t a lot of people like me in law teaching. And so I just thought I might find some others. That’s evidently not a particularly good use for the directory because it never happened.'”  (here)

Finally, I have a problem with Brian Leiter calling the Bogus piece a "sober commentary."  Since when is pure speculation that is contradicted by the subject of a piece sober commentary?

(Scott Fruehwald)

P.S. The strangest part of Bogus's post is this one, "Though she privately wasn't happy about it, Warren agreed."  This is strange even for a "theory." 

May 21, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)