Tuesday, August 18, 2009


We seem to be awfully mixed up these days!

Two things converged for me this morning that illustrated the disconnect.

One is an article a colleague handed me about how accommodations for "disabilities" have gotten so out of control and the potential for Americans with Disabilities Act litigation has gotten so threatening that professional standards are being lowered in frightening ways. The article is called Let's Lower the Bar and recounts the story of a would-be lawyer who reads poorly and who, despite various accommodations for two years, still finished near the bottom of her class (143 out of 153 students). She sued in order to get special accommodations to take the bar exam. The accommodations were granted: 50% more time on the test that other test takers, a private room, and an assistant to read her all the questions. She failed anyway. She sued again and won an opportunity to take the bar a 6th time - arguing that she had failed because her reader had been too noisy. This time she will be allowed double the time others are given. Her lawyer stated that if she fails again she might go back to court for more accommodations. Do you really want a lawyer who is this lacking in ability to be able to read and analyze text at a reasonable speed? Is this not a significant part of what lawyers are required to do?

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for an equal playing field, but you know, maybe not every job is for every person. We all have different skills, abilities, interests, talents. If something isn't the right fit, maybe it just isn't the right fit, and maybe that's OK, and maybe it isn't someone else's fault.

On the other end of the spectrum is the second article that came to my attention to day. This second article had to do with kindergartners and their parents feeling tremendous pressure to have them academically prepared BEFORE they enter the kindergarten classroom so that they will be able to keep up with their peers academically. Um, isn't kindergarten about learning to be in a classroom environment and how to socialize with others. I guess it's not anymore, but what's the rush? It seems crazy that kindergartners feel huge expectations for academic performance resting on their shoulders, but we have adults trying to get into professions they are not qualified for, and some in this litigious society that will sue and sue and sue until the bar is lowered enough for them to get what they want - at what cost to those who need their professional services.

What's wrong with this picture?


Delrae said...

Crazy! Both of them...
I'm glad to say that I did little to prepare Kalvin for Kindergarten last year except to tell him he better behave himself! :-)

Steve said...

Don't forget this wonderful story/nightmare about a graduate suing her alma mater: http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/08/03/new.york.jobless.graduate/

Imagine what this would do to higher education institutions if this is allowed to stand.

Heidi said...

Good for you Delrae! Kindergarten is to prepare them for the rest of school - not an academic test!

Steve, could you double check the URL? I'd love to read the story you mention, but gives me a message that the link is broken...

Sorry for the delay on posting the comments. I hadn't gotten back to my blog in a couple of days.

The first article depressed me so much - in combination with my sister and I continuing to lose bids on houses and now knowing the reason behind some of our losses - that being because the government is buying them up to be used for section 8 housing, which, given the sorts of houses they are buying while at the same time closing entire schools and laying off police officers and firefighters - just makes no sense at all.

What I mean by "the sorts of houses they are buying" is that they are in the $300,000 range. The home we have lived in very comfortably with 3 boys for 18 years currently appraises at quite a bit less than $150,000. Since the government has no money why are they spending $300,000 on a house to accommodate one family when they could accommodate 2 famlies VERY WELL for the same amount?!

I feel like our nation is committing suicide! Death by idiocy!

Sorry - I'll try to get ahold of myself.