In Mr. Errol Louis’ Op-Ed Victory Over Bias, a Long Time Coming, the actual FACTS about the FDNY’s entrance exams were conveniently omitted. For instance, the fact that these exams have long been calibrated to grade-school (7th & 8th grade) reading levels, for a job requiring a minimum of a H.S. diploma and ostensibly a 12th grade reading level at minimum.
Fact is these exams have long been set BELOW even the bare minimum standards required for this job. Mr. Louis quotes a blatantly biased judge, who claims, “The city did not take sufficient measures to ensure that better performers on its examinations would actually be better firefighters.” When all that these most basic exams have tested for is a desire to minimally prepare for exams with questions like one showing four views of a traditional gauge (¼, ½, ¾ and full) and asking, “Which indicates half full”? The same opponents of the Civil Service Merit System have assailed questions directly related to firefighting as “too job specific, requiring a knowledge of firefighting principles an applicant shouldn’t be expected to be familiar with,” even when such questions merely ask for information already supplied in the referenced essay.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, Errol Louis, as well as Mayor de Blasio have all expressed the view that “New York City’s workforce should look like New York City.” In that case, the ONE glaring disparity in New York City’s workforce the gross over-representation of non-Latino blacks (23% of NYC’s population and 36% of its Municipal workforce...a staggering 58% above their numbers in New York City’s population; http://www.citylimits.org/news/articles/4038/the-whitest-city-agencies#.Uy4bR_ldVHa) must be addressed, ESPECIALLY considering that so many of the largest discrepancies exist in agencies where objective criteria (like basic exams) are absent. That discrepancy is made all the more distressing because of the appearance of special (political) considerations, which smacks of the old, corrupt political patronage system.