A Real Turkey of an Idea

The recent Daily Beast Innovators Summit produced one idea so spectacularly bad that is deserving of the EduShyster “turkey” award.

For those of you who are new to the fast-paced, exciting world of great edu-idea production, allow me to bring you up to speed. The process starts by convening a great many smart people™ to discuss big ideas™ for solving complicated problems, like how to fix our union stifled public schools. For example, the Daily Beast’s recent Innovators Summit brought together bold, fresh innovators like Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee to offer their bold solutions to “help reboot America, make the world a better place, and (sometimes) even get rich in the process.”

Among the MANY great ideas that emerged from the summit was one so gloriously bad that it deserves the EduShyster Turkey award. The idea comes from former lawyer Rafiq Kalam Id-Din who is concerned that the nation’s law firms and financial institutions are sucking up all of the best talent. His solution: make our schools more like law firms:

By creating a model for inner city schools that operate with the professional structure of a law firm, my idea will yield an educational enterprise with no choice but to give the highest quality instruction to those who need it most. The law firm is an organizational model that is driven by the delivery of the highest quality legal service—unless its lawyers provide the very best counsel to their clients, their ability to make a living (and thus the firm’s very existence), is seriously undermined. The result is an organization comprised solely of professionals, all of whom are motivated by the incentive to perfect their craft for the sake of their clients, and ultimately themselves.

Just to clarify: Mr. Id-Din does NOT think that what he calls “teaching firms” should replicate “the billable hour or harsh impersonal working environments ordinarily associated with white-shoe law firms.” Teachers at the firm will be paid like lawyers though, earning between $150,000 and $300,000. No mention of whether they will also have lawyers’ great personalities. And like the very best ideas, Mr. Id-Din’s will soon become a reality. His Teaching Firms of America Community will soon be opening its first school in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

Not everyone is buying what Mr. Id-Din is selling, of course. In the world of great edu-idea production there will always be skeptics. One young teacher summed up her ambivalence to Mr. Id-Din’s law firm idea this way:

where are these people from?…Who comes up with this stuff?. As a teacher, this idea sounds kinda crazy to me.

It sounds kinda crazy to me too. In fact it sounds like a real turkey… Do you think that elementary schools should be modeled on law firms? Send comments to tips@edushyster.com.

 

11 Comments

  1. It seems Mr. Id-Din has been too busy innovating to notice the recent collapse of several large law firms, or the glut of unemployed young lawyers unable to pay their student loans, because I’m not certain his ideal law firm exists.

    Actually now that I think of it, don’t many public school districts already model themselves after law firms, with well-paid Superintendents/senior partners overseeing gangs of over-worked, underpaid junior teacher/lawyers who are encouraged to compete their way to the the top?

    1. “The law firm is an organizational model that is driven by the delivery of the highest quality legal service—unless its lawyers provide the very best counsel to their clients, their ability to make a living (and thus the firm’s very existence)”
      There are as many burned out, incompetent people in law as in any field. I know lawyers right now who are borderline homeless and not necessarily because of their competence. There are just TOO MANY of them.
      This innovation smells of desperation by the “REFORMERS” who are looking to make a profit off of the poor, during the next phase of capitalism. Everyone wants to eat at the education money table. We want to educate our young and make a million dollars off of them too.
      THE globalized world presents UNPRECEDENTED CHALLENGES for which most schools are ill-prepared. This idea doesn’t begin to address the SOCIETAL CHALLENGE.
      Lorraine Richardson

      1. And what would be a policy that DOES address the societal challenges?

  2. […] here is the idea of the year: schools should operate like law firms! Read on. Don’t laugh. Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

  3. Wherever you are that has law firms that operate like this…let me know so I can move there.

    By creating a model for inner city schools that operate with the professional structure of a law firm, my idea will yield an educational enterprise with no choice but to give the highest quality instruction to those who need it most. The law firm is an organizational model that is driven by the delivery of the highest quality legal service—unless its lawyers provide the very best counsel to their clients, their ability to make a living (and thus the firm’s very existence), is seriously undermined. The result is an organization comprised solely of professionals, all of whom are motivated by the incentive to perfect their craft for the sake of their clients, and ultimately themselves.

  4. “help reboot America, make the world a better place, and (sometimes) even get rich in the process.”

    DID somebody really say this?

    1. Alas this is a real quote from Daily Beast reporter Jacob Bernstein who was tasked with identifying the 10 most awe-inducing ideas from the Beast’s Innovator’s Summit. Bernstein liked the law firm idea so much that he ranked it #2…

  5. If schools were to function like law firms, then the students from the wealthiest families would get individualized. personal, first class, red-carpet treatment; and kids from poor families and broken homes would be dumped on overworked, undertrained, and underpaid legal-aid types and would get the most perfunctory advice/education.

    Wait. That’s what we already have and it’s getting more so every year.

    How did Bernstein think this was an idea even worth mentioning?

  6. “The result is an organization comprised solely of professionals, all of whom are motivated by the incentive to perfect their craft for the sake of their clients, and ultimately themselves.”

    Am I missing something, or isn’t this what we do every fricking day?

  7. The school – to – prison pipeline just got procedurally streamlined …..whooosh!

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