Some Texas state legislators sure are trying hard to open a new law school in the Rio Grande Valley. In 2010 the idea was floated, but the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board questioned the need for another school in the state. In 2011 a bill was introduced to create the new school, but died in the House Higher Education Committee.
Now Reps Eddie Lucio III and Armando Martinez are bringing the idea back. The area is in need of a new medical school, and the two reps want to add a law school to the mix. [The Monitor]
Anyone familiar with law schools and the legal market of course knows that a new law school is the last thing needed in pretty much any state. Except maybe Alaska, which doesn't even have its first school. But Texas? Texas has 9 schools. And here's how they're performing:
For those not yet familiar with the Law School Transparency methodology, the Employment Score counts full time, permanent jobs that require bar passage, as well as clerkships. Under-Employment includes unemployed, part time, temporary, non-professional, and people tacking on another full time degree. [Click here to see the full Texas report.]
Apparently the Mexican cartels disappeared a few Texas Wesleyan students.
In comparative terms, Texas isn't doing that bad. 5 out of 9 schools have Employment Scores over 60%. Nationwide, only 50 schools broke that mark. But no Texas school, not even the elite UT broke the 70% mark. 18 schools nationally did. Though while Texas isn't as bleak as many states, keep in mind that 12 out of state schools send at least 5% of their class to work in Texas, including Harvard (5.5%), Notre Dame (5.3%), and Vanderbilt (6.1%). The market in Texas is pretty damn competitive.
The legislators' concern is that not enough people from the Rio Grande Valley are attending law school. We'll assume there's some ethnic disparities that are meant to be addressed by the location, rather than a purely geographic concern. But if that's the case, if say, you want more Latinos to attend law school, building a school closer to them is hardly the best idea.
The state should be focusing its resources on primary education so more Latinos go to college, which will increase their numbers in all post-graduate programs, and all professions across the board. If you have a headache from being malnourished, you need a meal, not an aspirin.
To be fair, there may actually be some geographic concerns as well. Moving to a new city is expensive, and if you're no longer living with your parents then your cost of attendance is going to skyrocket. The solution to that problem is easy though. You don't need to build an entire new law school close to people who can't afford to move. You just need to build a dorm at one of your state schools and offer reasonable rates and need-based subsidies.