Slippery Standards

Arnold Ahlert is a former NY Post op-ed columnist currently contributing to JewishWorldReview.com, HumanEvents.com and CanadaFreePress.com. He may be reached at atahlert@comcast.net.


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Two seemingly unrelated stories in the news last week reveal the bankruptcy of the progressive mindset.  In Dayton, Ohio, under pressure from the U.S. Department of Justice, the city’s Police Department is changing its passing grades–again–on tests for police recruits.  Last Wednesday, in a report to Congress, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan revealed that up to 82 percent of public schools could be labeled “failing” because they don’t meet the requirements established by the No Child Left Behind law (NCLB).  Duncan claimed the law needed to be “fixed.” In both cases, the “fix” is lowering standards.

In Dayton, the motive is racial.  According to the Justice Department, which rejected the original scores submitted by the Dayton Civil Service Board, “not enough African-Americans passed the test.” Dayton needs a substantial number of new recruits to replace the “dozens” of officers who have filed for retirement.  Yet the DOJ’s rejection of the original test has delayed hiring for months.

Perhaps some sort of rational argument could be made for the attempt to increase minority presence in the police and fire departments. Dayton is a city with a minority population of approximately 40 percent, but less than 10 percent of that minority is represented in either department.  The city spent over $500,000 to settle a federal hiring discrimination lawsuit which mandates that they “diversify” both.  Yet in November,  when the city officials announced their intention to hire additional cops, more than 3,500 people showed up to take the test–but only 21 percent of them were minorities, which is nearly identical to the percentage which applied for the exam in 2006, prior to the suit.

Malik Aziz, president of the National Black Police Association, attributes this to a lack of recruitment efforts.  “That’s a repeated recipe for failure.  There is no season for recruiting–it happens year round. Departments who do this largely fail at recruiting minorities and long-term it’s a recipe for disaster.”  Mr Aziz is referring to the fact that the department’s recruiting office was unmanned for a year prior to last May.  But Police Chief Richard Biehl claims that was the result of budget cuts.  And despite the city’s ability to recruit beyond its borders for this test, further budget cuts “will likely choke off recruiting efforts again after this testing cycle,” according to city officials.

The Justice Department’s solution?  Dayton must lower the passing grade on the test scores.  Again, one could make a rational argument for grading “on a curve,” were it not for one inconvenient reality:  under the older requirements, candidates needed a grade of 66 percent on part one of the exam and 72 percent on part two.  The new scoring requirements lower those grades to 58 percent and 63 percent, respectively.  Thus, what would be considered failing in the first case and barely passing in the second (assuming one considers a passing grade to be 60 percent) becomes sufficient to be employed as a police officer in Dayton. Officials report that 258 more people “passed” the test, but the city refused to say how many of them were minorities.

Incredibly, such standards represented an improvement, at least with respect to the 2006 exam. According to DaytonDailyNews.com, the city set the passing grade that year at 70 percent, yet the pass rates for whites was 68.1 percent, while the pass rate for blacks was 28.7 percent.  The results of that test engendered the lawsuit.  The DOJ’s rationale? “While African Americans constituted 16.2 percent of all applicants who took that examination, African Americans constituted only 7.6 percent of the applicants who passed that examination–a result that reduced the proportion of African American applicants under consideration by approximately 50 percent,” stated the lawsuit.

Dayton NAACP President Derrick Foward illuminated reality with regard to the latest exam.  “The NAACP does not support individuals failing a test and then having the opportunity to be gainfully employed,” he said. Dayton Fraternal Order of Police President, Randy Beane offered another reality check.  “It becomes a safety issue for the people of our community.  It becomes a safety issue to have an incompetent officer next to you in a life and death situation,” he said.

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  • kafir4life

    What's the big deal about police eligibility? We greatly lowered the standards for President of the United States a couple of years ago, and that's working out pretty well, isn't it? I don't think anybody (left or right) could say with a straight face that Barry Hussein (as perfectly acceptable to say as George W, Richard Milhouse, BJ BIlly….) wasn't selected president because of our lowering of those standards.

  • Spider

    Yes well Obama is our very first AFIRMATIVE ACTION president. He sealed his own records so no one could really look at his background and realixe he was not even qualified to get into Harvard or have a Law degree for that matter if he wasn't Black. The media also did not vet this fast talking SNAKE OIL SALESMAN. And now we see the resulting incompetence in our failing country. You will see the same incompetence in those AFIRMATIVE ACTION first responders and they are going to get people killed. Would you want somebody who got an F on their application test calculating the proper dose of your life saving medication during an emergency ???

  • FBastiat

    Intelligence is Not an Affirmative Action Program!
    http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?…

  • jnorv

    t would be interesting to see some samples of the test questions.

  • moebellini

    Think about it. These new police recruits can't pass the basic police exam so we lower the scoring grid so they can. So if they can't pass the basic test how are they going to write out tickets, how are they going to learn about crime scene procedures, learn how to react to emergencies of any kind, learn about gun laws and drug laws. Its amazing until you look at our attorney general Eric Holder who could care less about any kind of law. To appease certain people, we will put the public at risk by having more incompetent government workers.

  • USMCSniper

    Doesn’t the Declaration say that all men are created equal? So why are we taxed at different rates? Why does the government even acknowledge race in any regard? Now, will someone please tell me, how can every white person, mainly white males alive today be held responsible for slavery 100 years before they were even born? There should not be any government allusion to, or recognition of, race, creed, or color in any government policy…period. Affirmative Action is an insult to any proud black person and implies that blacks are manifestly inferior and stupid.

  • tagfu222

    Lowering standards is not “affirmative action”. True affirmative action would be to set up tutoring centers to raise the quality of the applicants. These tutoring centers should be:
    (1) Located in the targeted minority communities – This would make it easier for targeted minorities to participate in the program.
    (2) Be either free or very low cost – So that there is no economic barrier to possible participation.
    (3) Be open to all people – To be non-discriminatory.
    The outcome of this program would truly be “affirmative” by increasing the numbers truly qualified people available for the jobs. It would also take away doubts whether that minority policeman (fireman, lawyer, doctor, plumber etc) was the best available or just the best “minority” available.
    I heard NYC Mayor Ed Koch say something like this years ago.

  • Bobber

    It should be noted that the original lawsuit that prompted the lowering of these standards was filed in September, 2008 by the DOJ when Bush was still in office.

  • Rick_in_VA

    Don't forget they dumbed down the SAT scoring system not that long ago.
    As to schools; the politicians should be required to send their kids to public schools.

  • Bob

    Negroazation

  • moronpolitics

    I taught until last year in an all Black 99 percent Public Middle School in South Dallas. I told them about palindromes. read forward or backward they read the same. I showed them the most famous ever wriitten "A m,an, a plan, a canal — panama" Read it backwards. it's the same and it was written to honor the man who designed and built the Panama Canal.

    I suggested that the try to write a palindrome to honor President Obama. The worked all day in groups and had the weekend to to complete the task. I had 18 kids in the class. FOUR OF THEM TURNED THIS IN FOR THEIR HOMEWORK.

    "A man, a plan, a canal —- Obama"

  • Quarkonntn

    Standards have indeed fallen. I recall a case in Canada back in 1971 where an applicant for the RCMP aced the physical and psychological tests but got one question wrong on the written (not multiple choice) exam – he did not know what the character "John Barleycorn" represented, so he was rejected. Of course that was when Baby Boomers were flooding the employment market, now any reasonably fit person without a criminal record would qualify.

  • adward

    Lol, that's a lot.

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