Wednesday, December 04, 2002


The poster child for educational malpractice in America is former Creighton University basketball player Kevin Ross, reportedly now working as a janitor at the high school where he starred as a basketball player many years ago.

Ross left Creighton after earning 96 credit hours there despite still not knowing how to read. At 6'9", he sat in class with second- and third-graders in the famous Marva Collins private elementary school in Chicago, and did eventually learn how to read. In nine months, his reading ability jumped several grade levels.

The case revealed that his course load at Creighton consisted of such subjects as "marksmanship," "theory of basketball," "theory of track and field" and "squad participation." The contention was that Ross was "used" for his sports talents and not truly educated at the university.

Ross took Creighton to court seeking damages for educational malpractice, negligent admission and emotional distress. He settled out of court for $30,000 in 1992. The case, though giving Omaha's prominent college a black eye, still was seen as doing a lot of good in establishing that the public wants academic goals to be primary over athletic goals in the field of higher education.

Now the Cato Institute has used the Kevin Ross story as an example of why it contends that people ought to file lawsuits against dysfunctional public school systems and collect damages that can be applied to private-school tuition.

Although so far across the country that tactic has failed or suits along those lines are barred against public schools, the think tank contends that documentation is being amassed that might make these lawsuits more feasible in the near future.

In a Nov. 23 article by Casey Lartigue on http://www.cato.org/people/lartigue.html the writer quotes Dr. Ronald Standler, a former professor and now an attorney in Massachusetts, as saying that torts may work for parents whose child is given a high-school diploma but who is demonstrably illiterate despite having normal intelligence.

Will there be a rash of educational malpractice lawsuits being filed, either here in Nebraska or around the country?

Might be worthwhile. After all, other professionals are held accountable in court -- doctors, lawyers, accountants -- so why not educators?

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