Monday, April 28, 2008

Put the ABA Out of the Accreditation Business

By Richard Vedder

I have already today written once about accreditation, and thought I would be done speaking about it for a while. However, I finally got around to reading today's Wall Street Journal this evening, and I am furious at the behavior of the American Bar Association and believe it should be removed as an accreditor of law schools by the U.S. Department of Education for its racist behavior that works to lower, not raise, the confidence that prospective students and employers have in the law schools that it accredits.

Gail Heriot in her story details how George Mason Law School almost lost its accreditation because it was not aggressive enough in showing PREFERENCES in admitting blacks. The school wanted to aggressively recruit minorities, but not show them preference. The American Bar Association said they MUST show preference to blacks, even if that meant lowering academic standards. Under duress, the proportion of admitted blacks grew sharply, but the ABA kept harassing the school.

I have no evidence whatsoever, but I would not be surprised that the attack on GMU Law School is based largely on that school's somewhat conservative reputation. Harass those who do not share the world view of the accreditors. But even if that is not so, forcing a school to follow a race-oriented admissions policy is just downright wrong.

Moreover, as the Thernstroms (Stephen and Abigail) have shown, preferential treatment of African-Americans leads to higher dropout rates, lower bar exam passage rates among blacks, etc. If blacks attended the schools most appropriate for their academic promise and achievement like whites and Asians do, THEY would be collectively better off.

Solution? Vickie Schray and Sara Martinez Tucker at the U.S. Department of Education should call together the appropriate people to begin the process of stripping the ABA of its accrediting authority --or at least set up an alternative organization that can accredit law schools. I would call on people like Andy Morriss at the University of Illinois and Bill Henderson at Indiana University, who have developed much better ways of rating law schools than used by US News & World Report, to lead the effort to organize a new accrediting organization --sooner than later. Many law schools are seething over ABA high-handed behavior, I understand. It is time that this racist bullying stop, for the good of involved students, for the good of legal education, and to restore American values of treating everyone the same, regardless of race, gender, religion, national origin, sexual preferences, etc.

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