So I was sort of watching my local news the other night while playing with my puppy Riley (whose picture I’m including here just so more people will read this post), when they had a story about a teacher who was suspended for slapping a student in class.
That’s not what got my attention, though. What made me look up at the TV while Riley gave me puppy kisses (isn’t he precious?) was the name of the New York City public school involved: The Middle School of Marketing and Legal Studies.
Now, the first thing you should about this is that marketers hate lawyers. I’m a marketer, and I hate lawyers. Lawyers make us substantiate the claims we marketers try to put into advertising. I don’t wanna substantiate claims. I want to be able to claim anything I damn please. If I’m writing an ad for, say, a cold medication, I want to be able to say it is the best cold medication you can buy and it is so good, if you take it in the middle of a sneeze, you’ll just stop: “Ahhhh-ch.” No “oo.” The cold’s gone, just like that.
But a lawyer will say, “Has that been clinically proven? Do you know that no other cold medicine can do that? Does the swallowing of the snot that would have come out had the consumer completed that sneeze need to be disclosed as a possible side effect?”
Lawyers are the ones that make you add disclaimers like “Do not take ColdBGone if you are allergic to ColdBGone.”
So having a school with prospective lawyers and prospective marketers is like having the Jocks & Jumps School of Football and Ballet, except with less certainty about who will make it out alive.
But even the unlikely and incompatible mix of future professions is not what momentarily caused me to ignore this cute little face which will get me at least 100 hits I wouldn’t have had otherwise. It was these two words: “middle school.”
The Middle School of Marketing and Legal Studies.
I suppose I can imagine a young child showing an aptitude for advertising (“Oh, yes, Johnny opened a prune juice stand because he wanted an exclusive”), but what indication could a parent have that a 12-year-old might make a talented lawyer? What–she indicated at an early age a preference for a briefcase over a backpack?
I wondered what the curriculum would be for these adolescent attorneys and admen, so I went to the website and clicked on “Overview.” I got a blank screen. In fact, most of the links on the website led to blank screens. I wasn’t surprised. I figured the marketing kids had written and designed the pages but the legal kids were in their eighth round of reviewing them.
In fact, I could find very little online about the Middle School of Marketing and Legal Studies, except…
- Only 3% of its students scored three or four on the state math exam and only 18% on the state science exam (as compared with citywide averages of 26% and 45% respectively).
- In addition to the recent slapping incident, last year the principal of the school cheated by allowing extra time on state math and science exams. Yes, that’s right–they had to cheat to get to the scores mentioned above. If they hadn’t, the scores might have been in the negative numbers, and they wouldn’t have been able to count them.
Clearly, New York City is not targeting the best and brightest for the marketing and legal professions.
Finally I found a PDF of a 2010-2011 document entitled “Middle School of Marketing and Legal Studies School Comprehensive Educational Plan” with the following as the curriculum (this is a verbatim cut-and-paste, which indicates that English is not high on the priority list, at least among administrators) :
The sixth grade students are immersed in an introductory curriculum that provides students with an overview of Constitutional Law, the Court System and the fundamentals of Marketing and Advertisement concepts. In the seventh grade students learn about Criminal/Juvenile Law, in Legal Studies and Fashion, Sports Entertainment and Political Marketing. Prior to students entering the 8th grade, students will declare a major in either Marketing or Legal Studies. 8th grade students will have the opportunity to participate in an internship, where they will interact and observe a variety of constituents that assume an array of roles/and or titles in the fields of Marketing and Legal Studies.
Jeez–there are people in their third years of college who haven’t decided on a major, and they want math-impaired middle school kids to do it? And let’s not even get into the law firm or ad agency that has eighth graders running around as interns. (“Yes,” the account executive tells the client, “young Madeline here in the One Direction t-shirt designed your ad. Madeline, please stop eating your Lunchable and say hello to the client.”*)
See you soon.
*Come to think of it, this comment would not be out of the realm of possibility even if the designer was an adult. Ad agency creative types tend not to be overly mature.