THE UNIVERSITY of Maryland School of Law got a modicum of satisfaction this month from American Lawyer, the publication about the legal establishment.
Responding to the annual ratings of law schools by U.S. News & World Report, the lawyers' magazine assigned senior writer Roger Parloff (Yale Law School '82) to assess the complaint of the vast majority of the nation's law schools (including those at Maryland and the University of Baltimore) that the U.S. News rankings are bogus.
Parloff's report condemns both sides, maintaining that the deans protest entirely too much and too hypocritically, while the news magazine turns what amounts to a reputation poll into a major moneymaker not unlike Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue.
Having laid a pox on both sides, the American Lawyer does its ranking by asking the nation's top 100 law firms (in terms of client billings) where they recruit.
In that poll, Maryland is rescued from the oblivion of the "second tier" in U.S. News' estimation to a respectable 43rd, with 32 of 241 graduates placed last year in the top firms.
Yale and Harvard, picked first and second in U.S. News, finished fifth and fourth in the lawyers' rankings. The University of Chicago, chosen fourth by the news magazine, was ranked highest in the lawyers' publication.
New Republic traces school's troubles to 'ghetto'
In an article in the May 4 New Republic, writer Mark Stricherz paints a bleak picture of Baltimore's Northern High School.
The school was thrust into the national spotlight in November, when Principal Alice Morgan Brown suspended 1,200 students for disobeying an order to pick up their report cards.
Whatever Brown's "culpability," Stricherz writes, "the roots of Northern's crisis lie not on school grounds but in the ghetto where most Northern students live -- and where the problems are so profound as to be beyond the reach of local and even state government."
Curiously, Stricherz doesn't mention the partnership the school has forged with Morgan State University and WJZ-TV (Channel 13) in an attempt to address its many problems.
Students to meet authors on Internet 'read-in'
Students at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in Essex will join 300,000 others Friday for an Internet "read-in." In the all-day event being conducted in 50 states and 15 countries, the Mount Carmel students will be able to "talk" by computer to other nTC students and to favorite authors.
"It's like a sleep-in, except it's to celebrate reading," says Teresa Wilkins, the technology coordinator at the school. Details may be found at www.readin.org.
Poverty pulls students down even in rural Montana
Montana, my home state, remains fiercely independent. Only in the past couple of years has the state begun to publish test scores, hitherto believed to be none of anyone's business.
But the Legislature in 1997 required the Montana Office of Public Instruction and the elected state superintendent to release school-by-school scores annually.
And guess what: Students bringing up the rear are those living in poverty, those with jobless parents and substandard school buildings. Many are among Montana's largest minority -- "Indians" to residents of the Treasure State, "Native Americans" to those of us in the politically correct larger world.
The Associated Press analyzed the test scores for the 1995-1996 school year and released the results this month while I was visiting the state. Three-fourths of the lowest-ranking schools were predominantly Indian.
The AP found that students in the largest and smallest schools generally have the best scores. State education officials said that finding reflects the value of small classes in small schools and the money and equipment available to larger schools.
Scores were withheld for 136 schools so small that publishing the results might have allowed identification of individuals. This in a state with 800,000 residents, one congressman and 4 million nonvoting cattle.
Pub Date: 4/22/98