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June 01, 2012

The law school system is entirely broken

How to Make Law School Affordable - NYTimes.com
THE economics of legal education are broken. The problem is that the cost of a law degree is now vastly out of proportion to the economic opportunities obtained by the majority of graduates. The average debt of law graduates tops $100,000, and most new lawyers do not earn salaries sufficient to make the monthly payments on this debt. More than one-third of law graduates in recent years have failed to obtain lawyer jobs. Thousands of new law graduates will enter a government-sponsored debt relief program, and many will never fully pay off their law school debt. How did we get into this mess? And how do we get out? Two factors have combined to produce this situation: the federal loan system and the American Bar Association-imposed accreditation standards for law schools. Both need to be reformed.

Charter schools shuts down one day after teachers vote to join union

Charter schools, by and large, are about killing the unions. Not all of them, of course. But when Republican after Republican declares them to be the solution to our educational problems, it's clear it's all about destroying unions. Charter teachers say efforts to unionize are being blocked - chicagotribune.com
Teachers and staff at a Chicago charter school for troubled youths have filed an unfair labor complaint that claims the network that runs the school announced plans to close it a day after teachers voted to form a union. The complaint, filed with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, seeks to stop Youth Connection Charter School from closing the Youth Connection Leadership Academy at 3424 S. State St. or laying off teachers. The teachers are joined in the complaint by the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, the American Federation of Teachers and the AFL-CIO. "This is union busting, plain and simple," said Brian Harris, president of the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, which the academy faculty had voted to join. "We've never had anything this drastic where they've threatened to fire everyone or close down a school. But, every single school where we've tried to organize, with the exception of one, we've faced some push-back."

Paul Krugman: An economy is not like an indebted family; or, auesterity is the worst plan during a recession

The Austerity Agenda - NYTimes.com
The bad metaphor — which you’ve surely heard many times — equates the debt problems of a national economy with the debt problems of an individual family. A family that has run up too much debt, the story goes, must tighten its belt. So if Britain, as a whole, has run up too much debt — which it has, although it’s mostly private rather than public debt — shouldn’t it do the same? What’s wrong with this comparison? The answer is that an economy is not like an indebted family. Our debt is mostly money we owe to each other; even more important, our income mostly comes from selling things to each other. Your spending is my income, and my spending is your income. So what happens if everyone simultaneously slashes spending in an attempt to pay down debt? The answer is that everyone’s income falls — my income falls because you’re spending less, and your income falls because I’m spending less. And, as our incomes plunge, our debt problem gets worse, not better. This isn’t a new insight. The great American economist Irving Fisher explained it all the way back in 1933, summarizing what he called “debt deflation” with the pithy slogan “the more the debtors pay, the more they owe.” Recent events, above all the austerity death spiral in Europe, have dramatically illustrated the truth of Fisher’s insight. And there’s a clear moral to this story: When the private sector is frantically trying to pay down debt, the public sector should do the opposite, spending when the private sector can’t or won’t. By all means, let’s balance our budget once the economy has recovered — but not now. The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity. As I said, this isn’t a new insight. So why have so many politicians insisted on pursuing austerity in slump? And why won’t they change course even as experience confirms the lessons of theory and history?