ABA POSTS LAST MINUTE DRASTIC REVISIONS TO ACADEMIC FREEDOM STANDARDS

The proposed revisions to “Security of Position, Academic Freedom, and Attract and Retain Faculty” dated July 15, 2010, was posted on the web site of the Standards Review Committee on July 20, only three days in advance of the Committee’s meeting this weekend at which the SRC is slated  to discuss the issues it raises.   see http://www.abanet.org/legaled/committees/comstandards.html (scroll down to July 24-25 meeting).  This “Draft” proposes the elimination of the longstanding provisions in Standard 405 addressing tenure and other forms of security of position for law faculty.

Yesterday (July 22nd), CLEA President Bob Kuehn sent a letter to the Standards Review Committee identifying several “troubling” issues raised by this posting.  First, it  is “posted so late that interested persons and organizations cannot provide comments prior to the Committee beginning its deliberations on those issues.”  Second, Bob found it also troubling that, “although it appears to represent the viewpoint of only a single author  (we note that the draft, on page 7, is written in the first-person singular and states that it is not endorsed by the subcommittee), this “discussion” document does not provide the Committee with any alternate points of view.”  Third,  “the author of this document misreads, and therefore misrepresents, the May, 2008 “Report of the Special Committee on Security of Position,” which reported to the Council on Legal Education…… Fourth, the draft makes no note of alternative viewpoints, even though many were expressed in anticipation of this draft.”  Bob Kuehn’s letter is posted on my CELT site. www.teachinglawstudents.com

What is important to note in reading the proposed draft is that although not mandated by the standards, tenure has been the historical means by which institutions of higher learning, including law schools, preserve academic freedom.   The proposed standards suggest a world in which a wide range of  employment relationships will exist between faculty and those who pay them and,  ultimately, either the preservation of tenure for an ever smaller, discrete, elite portion of a facultyor throwing out tenure altogether.  The issue is also being discussed on the Inside Higher Ed blog.

This is a time for careful analyis and brainstorming among those who care deeply about the future of legal education. I find it interesting that at a time when the world has become so very conscious of the devestating economic, environmental and health effects of market deregulation, the ABA is leading us down that path!

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