Thursday, August 27, 2009

Affirmative Action in Firefighting hiring

There has been another case where a judge has deemed a hiring test for firefighters biased because of its' disparate impact on blacks and hispanics.

Now some of those applicants are weighing their options.

But research into the issue shows that the test wasn't biased in fact but only in that the result of the test showed that whites did better than racial minority groups.

The theory behind the law is this: If people in power want to discriminate they can find seemingly non-controversial means to exclude people they don't like. For example, if it is found out that on average blacks and hispanics do less well on certain types of test questions than whites, they can use a test with those questions as part of the qualification process.

The law as it stands mandates that any test given be relevant to the job sought. So even though an SAT type test is presumably fair, if the result of giving that test gives whites an advantage, the test was discriminatory on its' face.

I disagree with this thinking.

I think we should promote diversity in an honest way and not bastardize logic and the law.

An SAT type test is not discrimination. So stop it.

What I suggest is:
Take Affirmative Action to help anyone who wants it pass the test.
It can't be a bad thing to have firefighters who can read and do well on thinking type tests.
In the long run, it probably doesn't matter that much whether you are intelligent enough to pass these type tests but it isn't a bad thing to raise standards. It is a good thing.

Everyone who wants to be a firefighter should study. The government can help them study in terms of paying for tutors.

I'm confident at the end of the day this is a case where we don't need to have an issue.
Work harder.

Some other affirmative action cases are different because there isn't such a neat definition of merit. For example, in last year's Democratic Primary, Hillary Clinton was more qualified than Obama but they were both qualified (eventually). So what do you do in a case like that where different people have subjective standards of who is more desrving.

I think you take race (and gender) and every other reasonable factor into account in making a decision.

This is different from an objective test where you can prepare and study for it.
As Democrats we have the power to shape America. We should be responsible to work towards helping all citizens. This involves a willingness to shed ideology for the sake of the facts.

It is absurd to argue that a test is discriminatory because of the results.

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