Image from edweek.org
They argue that the firefighter’s test is racist in hidden, sneaky ways–like in requiring people to be good at reading comprehension. And when I say “good”, I mean at the primary school level. Here’s a quote from the NYT article:
On the surface, the tests — versions of which remained in use until 2007, according to the court — do not appear racially biased. Each exam consists of 85 multiple-choice questions about firefighting practices: the order in which a firefighter should don gear in an alarm; what the rear of a building would look like, based on its facade; the right situations in which to say “mayday” rather than “urgent” over the walkie-talkie.
But a closer look shows that the exams also required applicants to read and understand long passages, often containing technical terms, and then answer questions about them.
Seriously? Did you just say that? In print? And put your name on it?
Here’s the “racist” question in its entirety:
Which one of the following portable power saw blades must be put out of service?
A) A carbide tip blade missing nine tips
B) a carbide tip blade with three broken tips;
C) an aluminum oxide blade measuring 12 inches;
D) a yellow silicon carbide blade measuring nine inches.
So, do you know the answer? Right, me neither. But right above the question they had a 250 word piece of text that talked about blade saw safety. You know, kind of helper-text you had when you were learning to read in the sixth grade. That text included the following:
A saw blade must be put out of service (OOS) and sent to the Technical Services Division when the blade becomes worn or damaged. Carbide tip blades must be put OOS when eight or more tips are missing or broken.
Well, holy crap. They encoded the answer in anglo-speak! Well, not really anglo-speak, since Asians and Indians would blow the test out of the water. No, they must have encoded it in anti-NAM-speak. A NAM is a Non-Asian-Minority, which is what PC-types really mean when they use the word minority.
Basically, any sort of text in which NAMs score lower than Whites, Asians, or Indians, is racist. That’s it. That’s the new definition. Or, to put it another way, if Blacks and Hispanics tend not to be able to read a 250 word passage and answer a simple question about it, then the test is biased against Blacks and Hispanics.
This is unspeakably lame.
This is not just an affront to education, it’s a blatant insult against any Black or Hispanic person with an education. In a staggering twist of PC-based irony, the statement that reading comprehension skill requirements constitute a white-leaning bias equates to nothing less than a declaration of intellectual inequality. This type of rhetoric says, in a deafening scream:
“Any test that evaluates someone’s ability to read and understand basic instructions, at the elementary school level, is biased toward Whites, Asians and Indians, because Blacks and Hispanics tend not to be good at that stuff.”
Fix the fucking problem. Don’t jeopardize the safety of the public because certain groups have cultural values that discourage the pursuit of education. When you take that route all you’re doing is telling those same people you’re trying to help that they’re inferior, when instead you should be encouraging them to embrace the culture that pushed the successful to succeed.
- Embrace standards.
- Require that everyone reach them.
- Find those who can’t, and help them until they can.
That’s the solution–for FDNY and for the country and the world. Lowering the standard helps no one in the long term–least of all those who need the help. ::