June 23, 2017
Least educated county on Oregon's Pacific Coast shuts its last public library rather than increase taxes by $6 per month per household (Michael Simkovic)
Douglas County in rural Oregon recently shut its last public library rather than increase property taxes by around $6 per month per household. Less than 16 percent of the population of Douglas County has a bachelor's degree or above, making it the third least educated county on the Pacific Coast of the United States and the least educated coastal county in Oregon.
Across the Pacific, cities like Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai have built globally competitive workforces by investing heavily in education and infrastructure and embracing global trade. In the United States, excessive anti-tax movements have contributed to disinvestment and have slowed U.S. economic growth.
Update: Michelle Anderson (Stanford) and David Schleicher (Yale) debate policy responses to local economic decline and migration of educated populations away from depressed areas. Hat tip Paul Diller. (Willamette).
June 21, 2017
Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) (Pasadena) recently introduced H.R. 2526, the Protecting Our Students by Terminating Graduate Rates that Add to Debt (POST GRAD) Act. The bill would restore the in-school interest subsidy for graduate and professional students who borrow federal Direct Stafford Loans.
Federal in-school subsidies were terminated by The Budget Control Act in 2011, which ended the debt ceiling crisis of 2011. During the debt ceiling crisis of 2011, Congressional Republicans successfully maneuvered for large cuts to federal spending (other than military spending and pension and health benefits for retirees) by threatening to force the federal government to default on its sovereign debt unless then President Obama agreed to large spending cuts.
The POST GRAD Act would reduce the disparity between funding policy for graduate education and undergraduate education by reinstating graduate students’ eligibility for federal subsidized student loans, although graduate student borrowers, who have lower default rates, would continue to pay a higher interest rate after they complete their studies.
Christopher P. Chapman, CEO of the AccessLex Institute, estimated that the bill would save the typical law student $4,000 if passed.
If the interest rate subsidy encourages more investment in graduate education, it could more than pay for itself with higher future tax revenue.
UPDATE: The New America Foundation, which has close ties to the private student loan industry, has condemned proposals to reduce federal student loan interest rates. NAF claims that the immediate benefits of higher education financing only benefit a "small majority" of households and therefore are bad policy. New America argues that an increased military presence in Syria, Iraq and surrounding countries would be a better use of taxpayer dollars.
June 12, 2017
I'll be on a reduced blogging schedule for the summer (look for one or two items per week), but will update the lateral moves list periodically as well as start the new one in August. (Mike Simkovic, who has posting privileges here as well, may be posting as well in the summer.)
Thanks for reading, and I wish everyone a productive and pleasant summer.
May 17, 2017
Here's a nice reflection on his accomplishments at Irvine from his colleague Rick Hasen. And here's the announcement from Berkeley's Interim Provost:
I am very pleased to announce that Erwin Chemerinsky, current and founding Dean of the UC Irvine School of Law, has been appointed to be the next Dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law. He will begin his five-year term on July 1st.
One of the nation’s foremost scholars of constitutional law and federal civil procedure, Dean Chemerinsky is also a skilled administrator who, in less than a decade, built UCI Law from its founding into an institution whose faculty rank among the top in the country in scholarly impact, and whose student body admissions qualifications are comparable with the nation’s best law schools. Over the course of nine years, Dean Chemerinsky has been a central figure in the creation of UCI Law’s experiential learning-focused teaching philosophy, as well as in its highly successful faculty recruitment, curriculum development, fundraising, and strategic planning efforts.
As a professor and legal scholar, Dean Chemerinsky prizes public service and embodies the role of a public intellectual. He is the author of ten books and more than 200 law review articles, a weekly column for the Orange County Register, monthly columns for the ABA Journal and the Daily Journal, and regular op-eds in newspapers across the country. He frequently argues appellate cases, including in the United States Supreme Court. Dean Chemerinsky’s support for public service at UCI Law has placed the institution among the very top law schools in terms of number of federal clerkships, graduates in government and public interest jobs, and community service contribution. In January 2017, National Jurist magazine named him the most influential person in legal education in the United States.
Dean Chemerinsky graduated from Northwestern University in 1975, and received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1978. Prior to assuming his deanship at Irvine, he was a professor at Duke Law School and the University of Southern California Law School.
Dean Chemerinsky’s appointment comes at the end of a thorough search process, and I would like to extend my thanks to search committee chair Dean Henry Brady, the entire search committee, and everyone in the extended Berkeley Law community who provided feedback on the next dean. I would like to also extend particular thanks to Berkeley Law Interim Dean Melissa Murray, who took the reins at a difficult time and has provided steadfast leadership over the course of the past year.
Dean Chemerinsky is an acclaimed researcher, gifted teacher, and accomplished administrator, and I believe he will be a phenomenal leader for our law school, someone who will ensure that Berkeley Law remains not only a powerhouse of legal scholarship and training, but also a community built on mutual respect and inclusion.
Please join me in welcoming Erwin Chemerinsky to our campus.
Congratulations to Berkeley on a major catch for their Deanship!
UPDATE: Berkeley's news release about the appointment.
May 07, 2017
Every 6 to 7 years, some professors are offered one semester or one year without teaching or administrative duties. Some use the opportunity to start an ambitious research project, like a book. Others upgrade their skills by taking courses toward another advanced degree. Some work in government or for a large corporation, gaining new insights into their areas of interest. Still others visit another institution, for example where important research collaborators or resources are located.
Since sabbaticals are rare events—perhaps occurring 4 times in a career or less—any individual faculty member will have relatively limited personal experience to draw upon and will instead rely on the collective wisdom of his or her peers.
What do you think are some of the best ways to spend a sabbatical and why?
Comments are moderated. Please provide your real name.
May 05, 2017
April 27, 2017
I could not agree more with Northwestern Dean Dan Rodriguez:
Whittier's sudden closing is obviously a tough thing for current students and faculty. Perhaps the decision will be unraveled in the face of public pressure or via littigation. Yet there seems precious little basis to jump into a matter whose complex issues are essentially private, despite the efforts of many in and around the school to make this into a public spectacle. Perhaps bloggers should neither aid nor abet these efforts.
The hubris of the unknowing.
Sometimes Stephen Diamond (Santa Clara) has been a voice of reason amidst the mindless blather about law schools in most of cyberspace (and I have linked to him on a number of occasions over the years), but here he has completely missed the boat: the general legal market has been improving, true, but it is hardly mysterious why an institution would close a law school where far fewer than half the graduates even pass the bar. Diamond just politely ignores all the relevant facts about how this school's graduates have been faring, and, of course, is ignorant of the actual finances of the school.
But far more egregious is the presumptuous intervention of Robert Anderson, Associate Professor of Law at Pepperdine. Faculty members at Whittier are going to lose their jobs, and some may never work again as law teachers or work again at all. Yet Anderson has the audacity to scold them for not having taken an early retirement in the financial interest of the school. Seriously? Does Prof. Anderson pay the bills for any members of that faculty, does he know about their college-age children or their elderly parents or their chronic medical conditions that require a salary and a health insurance plan? Does he know that a job is not just a paycheck for many people (maybe not Robert Anderson), but a focal point of purpose and meaning in a life? Does he know that many did take early retirement a few years ago, and that others might have quite reasonably believed that the school's fortunes, now that both its faculty and student body were smaller, would rebound?
I'm sure Anderson doesn't know any of these things, he's just another blogging blowhard who has decided to use someone else's misery as an opportunity to attract some attention to himself. Anderson is guilty of far worse than unknowing hubris.
UPDATE: Some choice quotes from Prof. Anderson's posts:
"The reason Whittier is closing is because of intransigent, highly paid, unproductive law professors hang around for decades even when they haven't published anything or updated their courses since they were doing the Macarena."
"The unfortunate truth of this story [about Whitter] is that none of this needed to happen..... The number of retirement-age faculty was (and is) enormous, likely larger than it has ever been. If faculties had looked beyond their own personal financial self interest they could have easily contracted to meet the market demand and avoided the disastrous effects that have afflicted law students and now law schools. Sadly, the very faculty members whose institution provided them an outrageously rewarding career over many decades seemed the least likely to 'pay it forward' by helping to reduce expenses....Thus, the story of Whittier is a story of generational wealth shifting that is seen throughout tuition dependent law schools, and indeed throughout our country."
April 26, 2017
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may monitor Student Loan Servicers more closely (Michael Simkovic)
Kathleen Engel (Suffolk), Jonathan Glater (U.C. Irvine), and 13 more legal scholars and economists who study higher education and consumer finance have submitted a comment letter supporting a recent proposal by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to monitor student loan servicers more closely. The scholars have also suggested that anonymized versions of the resulting data should be shared with researchers who can help analyze it.
Although the federal government originates and holds most student loans, it contracts with non-profits, state agencies, and private lenders to service those loans--that is, to interact with borrowers, send statements, and collect payments. The scholars expressed concerns that some servicers might not be adequately informing borrowers of the various repayment plans available to them, and could thereby be driving up defaults or financing costs for borrowers.
April 24, 2017
April 23, 2017
Elisabeth de Fontenay at Duke argues that elite law firms' expertise in sophisticated corporate transactions is self-sustaining and resistant to competition. This is in part because firms with that do the lions share of negotiation and drafting for specific kinds of transactions create, manage and retain private information about the current market for terms.