Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Courts Speak On Education

Michael McAdoo is suing the University of North Carolina. The premise of his case is simple-- UNC promised him an education in exchange for his services as an athlete, and they violated that agreement when the shoved him into essentially fake classes with no educational value.

UNC's problems with "paper classes" and what has been called "eighteen years of academic fraud" were already large. This will not help.

But Time's coverage of the case notes that, while this may seem like an easy win, case law is not on McAdoo's side, and they refer to a 1992 case based on a similar premise.

In 1992, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit largely upheld a lower court decision to dismiss a case involving Kevin Ross, a former basketball player at Creighton University who sued the school for negligence and breach of contract for failing to educate him. “We agree — indeed we emphasize — that courts should not ‘take on the job of supervising the relationship between colleges and student-athletes or creating in effect a new relationship between them,’” the judges wrote. Courts are reluctant to judge the quality of a student’s education, because “theories of educations are not uniform.” How can you objectively measure the quality of a student’s academic experience? It may be a ‘practical impossibility to prove that the alleged malpractice of the teacher proximately caused the learning deficiency of the plaintiff student.’

The emphasis is mine. The case deals with the college level and not third graders. But it would be interesting to see if the court's reluctance to rule on what constitutes a quality education, or a teacher's role in providing it, would hold up in lawsuits over current evaluation systems being used to cripple and end teaching careers.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Mr. Greene:

    I sent your post about Mr. Michael McAdoo and his lawsuit over to my husband's computer for him to enjoy yesterday morning. My husband's response was that, ”Mr. McAdoo received a very good education at North Carolina University. He's much smarter than before.”

    I don't argue with my husband here. I only wish that Mr. McAdoo had become so much smarter maybe at the end of his Sophomore year, and then saved everyone a lot of trouble, especially him (!) There were more demanding classes offered at the place, and he could have insisted on taking them. At some point we should all remember that he got a free education, and other students are in debt all over the country.

    None of these athlete-students taking “paper classes” knew it was wrong? At the time?

    A while later, however, I did propose the perfect judgment. North Carolina University should be ordered to give Mr. McAdoo the required courses in any of 5 or 6 majors that almost guarantee a lucrative career. They will be the 5 or 6 degrees that are considered the most demanding among the fields of medical, law, science, or math. He gets one shot at each RIGOROUS class “on the house.” as he moves toward his degree. If he needs a do-over, it's on him.

    Of course, the professors will be aware that Mr. McAdoo is getting the benefit of their knowledge as a freebie, again. Presumably they will give him a lot of grit. He may feel he's in a freakin' grit-storm, and he's up to his eyeballs in grit. But, that is what he wants: to earn a degree that has worth. Or at least it's what he says he was denied. The perfect judgment would be to give him what he was denied.

    And oh, I haven't forgotten the reason this case is being brought up at Curmudgucation. I wouldn't expect the perfect judgment as described above. The courts will throw it around like any of my dogs did with a broccoli floret, and then, as you have explained, show precedent to say no one knows what makes a “good education,” and the case will be declined. And Yes, the ruling may be useful to some teachers who are getting VAM- pire-ized sometime down the road, so we all appreciate you bringing Mr. McAdoo and his suit to our attention.
    Thanks for a great blog...