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Should Elementary Schools Be Modeled After Law Firms?

In order to combat the inner-city drop out problem, one man proposes running schools more like law firms.

This past weekend, The Daily Beast held its Innovators Summit in New Orleans, which gathered 300 leading thinkers to discuss big ideas for changing the world. One of the most interesting innovations, according to senior reporter Jacob Bernstein, came from a former lawyer named Rafiq Kalam Id-Din, who has a radical idea for stemming the flood of more than 1 million kids who drop out of American high schools every year: Make school more like a law firm, what he calls a "teaching firm."

He wants to blend the taut, professional structure of the law firm with the success that home schooling-type situations have shown for minority students to create, in essence, one-room schoolhouses where a teacher is in charge of guiding students through their entire elementary school years. The teachers in these unique charters will be wholly accountable for their charges and will make the sort of salary that might normally lure education-minded young adults into law or finance: $150,000 to $300,000 per year.

Id-Din, who was a 2007 Echoing Green Fellow, said during an interview on Echoing Green's site:

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.


His Teaching Firms of America Community will soon be opening its first school in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

Photo (cc) via Flickr user Eversheds LLP.

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