Maybe They Need Affirmative Fractions?

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The Corner links to a report that the Virginia Beach police department has signed a consent decree with the Department of Justice, in which it agrees to end a "discriminatory" hiring practice and cough up a total of $160,000 to compensate applicants adversely affected by it.

The discriminatory practice? Requiring job candidates to score 70 percent or better on a math test.

There was no suggestion that the requirement was initially imposed based on racist motivations, mind you. But white candidates were passing it at significantly higher rates than black and Hispanic applicants, and that constitutes a "disparate impact," which someone decided was unjustified because beat cops don't need to be proficient in math. Now, obviously, there is a kind of racial injustice here—that we have some crappy school systems that disproportionately fail minority students. Weeding out neutral tests that reveal this unfortunate fact, however, seems like a suboptimal remedy.

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  1. That’s true. And the tests we used to give at the polls aren’t discriminatory either. It weren’t on purpose-like that the darkies were the ones that done failed.

  2. Now, obviously, there is a kind of racial injustice here-that we have some crappy school systems that disproportionately fail minority students.

    What a crock. The schools are “crappy” because they’re filled with stupid kids.

  3. What a crock. The schools are “crappy” because they’re filled with stupid kids.

    Riiiight. It isn’t a problem with the system or the way that funding gets doled out, its that all these damn minority kids are just too damn stupid to learn.

  4. Any chance that a link to the test could be posted? I would like to see what the fuss is about before I go Gordian on my underwear. The last time I looked there were plenty of chances for law enforcement types to use mathematics.

  5. Just setup a quota and be done with it. Oh, and don’t forget the blood test for racial purity.

  6. ChicagoTom, careful — LeMur actually believes that. He never passes up a chance to post something that reduces to “niggerz is dumb.”

  7. Swillfredo-I can’t speak about this particular test, but I did once take a municipal police exam that had a math component. To the best of my recollection, it was mostly basic aritmetic. I don’t remember there being anything as advanced as basic algebra on the test.

  8. I don’t know who I have a bigger problem with, the DOJ for being so stupid as to think that math is discriminatory, or for Virginia Beach for caving in and paying taxpayers money for the privilege of making their police department worse in the future.

    If you could believe a high school diploma actually meant something, then you could forgo the math test easily enough and just assume the applicants have the right skills if they have a high school diploma. Which is what they will presumably do now, unless someone decides that is also discriminatory since non-Hispanic whites graduate more often than blacks and Hispanics.

  9. well, Phil, I guess it just goes to show that there can be no honest debate since everything reduces to race…would LeMur’s post be any more tolerable to you if it wasn;t in response to a comment that used the words ‘racial minority’?

  10. I like the cut of the VBPD’s jib. Whenever socialized education fails to adequately educate its participants, we just lower the bar. Imagine if the SAT-Math’s most difficult problems were long division?

  11. Regression to the mean.

  12. People not already familiar with it might want to read up on Griggs v. Duke Power Co.

  13. It is a sad day in this country when a math test is deemed discriminatory. Up is down, down is up, right is left, etc.

  14. This seems like it passes the rational basis from Washington v. Davis. I can certainly see why a legislature would believe police officers should understand basic math.

  15. Swillfredo-I can’t speak about this particular test, but I did once take a municipal police exam that had a math component. To the best of my recollection, it was mostly basic aritmetic. I don’t remember there being anything as advanced as basic algebra on the test.

    I remember taking the Armed Forces basic skills test (or whatever it was called) from a military recruiter and it was pitched at exactly the same skill level. Fractions and decimals had to be the most advanced items.

    When I got through with it and they scored it the dude told me I could do well with those results in hand; nevertheless I passed up a career that was sure to have been drenched in martial glory.

  16. Disparate impact. What a stupid concept. Let’s indict a whole skill set as racist.

  17. The city will offer to let 124 black and Hispanic former applicants resume the hiring process.

    Do the white applicants that failed the math exam but would be eligible under the new guidelines have a discrimination case since they’re not allowed to resume the hiring process?

  18. Cops do need to be able to count how many bullets they’re pumping into the back of a non-violent drug offender.

  19. I remember the time that a coworker of mine was late for work because he got a speeding ticket in Western MA. He was driving on I-91, and the cop asked him if he knew how fast he was going. He said no, the cop told him 91 mph, my coworker said, hey that’s funny 91 on 91, the cop said no it’s not, and gave him a ticket.

    It has been a while since I lived in MA, but as I recall the speeding fine goes up $10 per each mph once you reach either 10 mph over the limit or 20 mph over the limit, I forget which. In order to give the appropriate fine you need to be able to do some basic math.

    By the way, this fine is still dwarfed by the hit you’ll take on your driver’s insurance.

  20. Hello,

    I live in a major urban ghetto. Have for years. Did anyone catch Bill Cosby (sp?) yesterday on the news? He was saying that blacks are responsible for their own sorry state of affairs. He referenced — for example — black men impregnating 11-year-old black girls, black men shooting other black men, and black people selling drugs to black people. Of course the black apologists argued that it’s all the fault of the dominant, racist culture. And I suppose one could posit that the economic disparities caused by racism towards blacks could result in the need for blacks to sell drugs to make a living, which might necessitate — at times — shooting one another. But it doesn’t explain why black men are fucking 11-year-old girls with impunity.

  21. We can make these problems go away, all we need to do is redesign all the tests. For instance, have you seen the SNL Jeopardy skit with Will Farrell? The questions could be like that: “Write a number, any number,” “Your ass or a hole in the ground,” etc. Sure the tests then will not have any predictive validity, but that’s a small price to pay.

  22. “Larry Summers”–

    There’s more than enough criticism to go around. To wit:

    Phil made a pretty stupid leap to assume that calling kids in urban schools dumb was racist. Maybe it is, but it’s not necessarily.

    At the same time, F. Le Mur made a statement that is foolish, unless he can provide studies and data to back it up. For instance, if there was a study done that took kids from a school where they are typically not very smart, installed them in a high-achieving suburban magnet school, and they still did poorly, then Le Mur’s statement might have some merit.

    Lastly, I think Julian’s original statement also deserves some criticism. Not all of the blame can be placed on the educational system. Much of childhood development has to do with the parental/familial structure where the child is raised. I think it’s safe to say that the parental/familial structure of inner city minorities is not typically as conducive to intellectual development as your typical white bread suburban house is. So, even if the schools were all exactly equal, that’s still no guarantee that the problems will be fixed…and it’s unfair to pin it all on the schools.

    Lastly in my running line of criticism is H&R’s evil comment server. Why even have a comments section?

  23. Oops, two “lastly’s”. I guess I got a little distracted by having to hit the “post” button over and over for 20 minutes.

  24. Hambone:

    Not sure what black dudes supposedly engaging in sexual intercourse with 11-year old girls has to do with this issue, but, hey, whatever floats yer boat.

    Re: Bill Cosby—My advice to all the troubled minority youths: just buy a bunch of wacky colored sweaters and start making goofy faces all the time for no reason. That’s your road out of the ghetto.

  25. Hambone:

    Back in the dark ages it was perfectly acceptable for a man to “know” an 11-year old girl.

    So maybe these folks are gett’n medieval.

  26. Math is hard.

  27. “What a crock. The schools are “crappy” because they’re filled with stupid kids.

    Riiiight. It isn’t a problem with the system or the way that funding gets doled out, its that all these damn minority kids are just too damn stupid to learn.”

    Exactly. We’ve doubled our inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending over the past 30 years, and that’s why we so much more brilliant today.

  28. Here’s an example police test:
    http://www.policeemployment.com/testing/math/
    I’m sure 6th graders of all ages will find it rather challenging.

    Here’s a good article on “Closing the Racial Learning Gap.” Careful, though: you need to use – *gasp* – arithmetic to understand it, and the slight-of-hand that it explains.
    http://www.lagriffedulion.f2s.com/gap.htm

    Phil and Chicago Tom – youze guys are seriously pitiful. But Jesus loves you.

  29. ChicagoTom, careful — LeMur actually believes that. He never passes up a chance to post something that reduces to “niggerz is dumb.”

    Unlike ChicagoTom, I would never make that such an assertion, but it’s a fact of life that black ghetto culture is one sick puppy. I work with youths in gangs and it’s as if they are in a cult which sees itself as being both victim and ghost-face killa.

    My city has the largest population of immigrants from North Africa in the entire USA. The North Africans are succeeding in their quest towards economic equality. However, native black Americans are not. Clearly, the failure of black Americans is not related to color, but culture.

    If you see that the dominant culture rewards hard work (e.g., in education) and you say to yourself, ?Fuck whitey and his ways?, you?re simply not going to realize a reward.

    Again, I write this from the ghetto and encourage anyone to discuss the belief that the only thing holding back American blacks is their inherent failings of their unique culture of violence / victimhood.

  30. “What a crock. The schools are “crappy” because they’re filled with stupid kids.”

    I wouldn’t quite say they’re “stupid,” although ghetto schools do tend to be disproportionately filled with kids who don’t give a shit about book learnin’, and these same children don’t tend to have parents who value it either. After all, doing well in school is “acting white.”

    You can blame the system, but these students’ attitudes matter a WHOLE lot more than past or current outside oppression. In slave days, the white folks kept blacks from learning. Now, the blacks are quite proficient at keeping themselves from doing so.

  31. wouldn’t quite say they’re “stupid,” although ghetto schools do tend to be disproportionately filled with kids who don’t give a shit about book learnin’, and these same children don’t tend to have parents who value it either.

    A great many of them have no parents at all. Most of the gang kids I work with are homeless. Virtually all are fatherless in that they have no connection to their biological father whatsoever, which weighs heavy upon their sense of self.

  32. Back in the dark ages it was perfectly acceptable for a man to “know” an 11-year old girl.

    Yo, Baron. It was also acceptable to torture people to death unless they converted to your religion, to rape the wife of someone poorer than you, and to never bathe.

    Just sayin.

  33. But white candidates were passing it at significantly higher rates than black and Hispanic applicants, and that constitutes a “disparate impact,” which someone decided was unjustified because beat cops don’t need to be proficient in math.

    I applaud this statement. Truthfully, almost nobody needs to be proficient in math, and as it’s obviously a subject devised by the dominant white racists to keep minorities from finding good jobs, we should just stop teaching it altogether. And think how much higher our kids would score if they didn’t have to do math!

    Cops do need to be able to count how many bullets they’re pumping into the back of a non-violent drug offender.

    A common mistake. All they have to do is keep squeezing the trigger until no more bullets come out. See? No math!

  34. Not sure what black dudes supposedly engaging in sexual intercourse with 11-year old girls has to do with this issue, but, hey, whatever floats yer boat.

    As someone who has worked with parenting teen inner city moms (some of whom wereimpregnated at the age of 12 by men well into their twenties) I find your comment most offensive.

    One girl I worked with fitting the above demographic, told me her babies daddy was getting paroled. She told me, He’s a really nice man just like you.” And as I smile back politely my brain was saying he’s not nice like me because unlike me, he fucks twelve-year-olds” As I said, it’s one sick puppy culture.

  35. Exactly. We’ve doubled our inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending over the past 30 years, and that’s why we so much more brilliant today.

    Right, because the best indicator of educational quality must be the amount of money the government is spending.

  36. Never bathe? Sign me up. I could use the extra ten minutes every other Sunday.

  37. Phil and Chicago Tom – youze guys are seriously pitiful. But Jesus loves you.

    No Mr. Lemur, you and your racist attitudes are pitiful. And I doubt Jesus loves you with the belief system that you have.

    In many cases (not all) the minority kids in the minority schools are uneducated, not stupid. Ignorance can be overcome, stupid is forever. Many lack proper guidance/supervision at home, and are stuck in inadequate / sub-par facilities. Neither of these are the fault of the children. Maybe calling the parents stupid would be more appropriate, but attacking the children as you did wrong-headed and dumb.

    In Illinois, school funding is pinned to property taxes. Therefore, the better/more expensive your neighborhood, the better funded your schools are. The better funded schools tend to draw the better teachers, have better facilities, and produce a more positive/constructive learning environment. Since most minority neighborhods in the Chicago Metro area also tend to have lower average property values and lower income, what are these “stupid kids” supposed to do?

  38. You can blame the system, but these students’ attitudes matter a WHOLE lot more than past or current outside oppression. In slave days, the white folks kept blacks from learning. Now, the blacks are quite proficient at keeping themselves from doing so.

    I just picked this one from a number in the thread.

    I would very much like to believe that this isn;t the case, that the students are all willing to lean. Indeed, this IS what the education system believes. Yet they fail miserably at converting these “blank slates” into what they minimally claim they can turn them into. And then of course we get the math-challenged response of “we don’t have enough money.”

    More likely the truth is the blankest of the slates are being taught by the blankety-blankest teachers. And that may not be any more of a failing of the system as it is another example of supply and demand. If the parents aren’t demanding a decent education, they won’t be supplied with decent teachers. The teachers (union) are only demanding customers, and that’s what the law supplies them with.

  39. That fetching linguist lass over there.. remove her clothing and bring her to me.

  40. Russ:

    My fiance is a teacher in a public school, and in many of her classes she is the only white face in there.

    She tries very, very hard to get through to these kids, but the “lead the horse to water” saying applies here.

    Lousy attitudes. Lousy parents. Period.

  41. The Universe is guilty of racial profiling. I demand that mathematics be redesigned into a more politically correct universal language.

  42. The Universe is guilty of racial profiling. I demand that mathematics be redesigned into a more politically correct universal language.

    is fisticuffs a universal language? I’m thinking it is…

  43. “Lastly, I think Julian’s original statement also deserves some criticism. Not all of the blame can be placed on the educational system.”

    My original statement would deserve criticism if I’d said all the blame should be placed on the educational system. It can’t; there are plenty of other factors. Still, I don’t think anyone who’s spent a day in both a white suburban public school and a minority urban one will claim with a straight face that there’s anything like parity in the quality of either facilities or teachers.

  44. Lousy attitudes. Lousy parents. Period.

    Proof positive children learn by example.

  45. Can’t the black cops just carry calculators on their utility belts?

    “Do you realize you were going…ummm…(tap, tap, tap-tap…tap) eight miles over the posted speed limit, sir?”

  46. Gunnels, is that your new nick?

  47. My fiance is a teacher in a public school, and in many of her classes she is the only white face in there.


    She tries very, very hard to get through to these kids, but the “lead the horse to water” saying applies here.

    MNG,

    I have a friend of mine in the same situation. This is her 2nd year teaching in a chicago inner city school. She teaches 1st grade and it is all pretty much minority kids in her class.

    From the conversations we have had, the problem seems to be that in her class of about 15-20 there are 5-7 “problem” kids who constantly act out and wind up slowing the class down. Her biggest complaint is about the parents. She says that, when told about the behavior of the kids, they don’t really seem to care or even try and do anything about that, and at time get offended at the notion of punishing the unruly child. She has taken to being quick to send the offenders to the principals office or whatnot in order to not allow them to disrupt the class. Field trips really wear her out (but then again, any class of 1sat graders on a field trip, even well behaved kids would wear me out).

    Needless to say she is really starting to get the itch to go teach in the suburbs.

    The question I always ask myself when I hear stories like that is how can anyone expect these kids to care or do better when their parents don’t? Kids with parents like that don’t really have a chance, in my opinion.

  48. dude!

    it is gunnels!

  49. mein gott. we’ve got it. you’re into lyrics.

    okay. whatever someone did, i’ll get Mr. steven crane to apologize. just. too. many. lyrics.

    so.many.lyrics
    so.
    many.
    lyrics.
    kein.Guter.Morgen.

  50. “Re: Bill Cosby—My advice to all the troubled minority youths: just buy a bunch of wacky colored sweaters and start making goofy faces all the time for no reason. That’s your road out of the ghetto.”

    Learning how to sing and dance or how to play basketball are also other roads out of the ghetto, I’m just sayin.

  51. Do you find this continous barrage of pro-violence rap lyrics to be uplifting and empowering?

    The street kids do.

  52. Now that you mention it, I find massive serial cut-and-pastes in comment threads annoying. Which is why I’ve deleted them. Don’t do that.

  53. Now that you mention it, I find massive serial cut-and-pastes in comment threads annoying. Which is why I’ve deleted them. Don’t do that.

    It’s clear this is a very poor site for communicating ideas through the use of relevant art.

    Good luck with the myopia thing.

    Have a nice life.

    – Hambone

  54. Statistician:

    What is this “regression” to the “mean” you speak of?

  55. I hope that we get more than 15 because we have tried to diversify,? Police Chief Jake Jacocks Jr. said.

    There’s the heart of the matter there. They may not like the idea either, but there is an expection at the local level that the racial/ethnic make-up of public employees should resemble that of the people in the community. They’ll change the testing/hiring procedures anyway they need to until they do.

    Still, $160k?! for what exactly? If I wasn’t eligible for a job one year and was the next, should I ask for compensation for that year that they were so mean as say that I wasn’t eligible? That doesn’t even make sense in a local government context (which is really saying something)

  56. expectation

    At least I’m not the only who goofs 🙂

  57. I spent some time and prison and remember the time one of the guards told me about a fellow “corrections officer” who was trying to get a part-time job to supplement the income he earned tending convicts. The guy, whg hadn’t had any problem qualifying to work as a guard, failed the math test required of potential sales clerks at the local “feed and seed” store.

  58. Since most minority neighborhods in the Chicago Metro area also tend to have lower average property values and lower income, what are these “stupid kids” supposed to do?

    Isn’t one of the provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act vouchers to parents of children in schools that fail to improve? Or at least permission for the child to attend a better school??

    I believe I read an article about it in the Chicago Tribune a couple of months ago.

    Ah, a quick google search and here it is:
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/specials/chi-040718nclb1-story,0,2865302.story

  59. “Still, I don’t think anyone who’s spent a day in both a white suburban public school and a minority urban one will claim with a straight face that there’s anything like parity in the quality of either facilities or teachers.”

    Actually, in my city they give big bonuses to teachers that work in the inner city schools – most of our bond money over the past 10 years has gone to enhance the same inner city schools. Unfortunately, they’re still a mess and getting worse all the time. A big part of it is the parents I believe, their lifestyles and victim attitudes just keep getting passed along to later generations and percieved racism remains an easy excuse for denying personal responsibility.

  60. Well, it looks like Mr. Sanchez has amputated Hambone’s e-peen, but just in case Hammy’s lurking:

    Maybe they could, I dunno, listen to something else.

  61. What’s next, eliminating literacy as a requirement? That’s just what we need, more stupid cops.

  62. “Math is hard.”

    While I have confidence that the test was not all that hard, what relevance does the math skill that was tested for have to a beginner cop job? Unless you address that question, you won’t be able to understand why they had to cough up $160,000. I’d bet that no one ever tried to demonstrate the level of math competence necessary for the job.

  63. Looks to me like Ellenoy schools have plenty of funding:

    http://www.dekalbcounty-il.com/illinoistoppaid.htm

    Its hard to find good help these days.

  64. I have a thought. Let them put up math tests so they can discriminate. If the general public outside the town thinks it an outrageous test designed to discriminate, then the property values of the town will go down because no one will want to live there and be associated with the shame and ridicule that goes with being a racist.

    Nah, it’ll never work. More government is the solution. To anything and everything. Doh!

  65. I don’t know about some of the others (other than the fact that they’re in fairly well-to-do suburbs), but the school superintendent in New Trier has a plum job. Average home price is well over a million dollars, as New Trier is in Winnetka (North Shore old-money), and NT happens to be one of the top public high schools in the country.

  66. would LeMur’s post be any more tolerable to you if it wasn;t in response to a comment that used the words ‘racial minority’?

    Phil’s reaction to information he doesn’t like is similar to, say, Muslim’s reactions to the equivalent: mindless emotion.

    Because…the belief in racial sameness is a religious belief: it’s based solely on faith and contradicted by *many* years worth of extremely consistent data, including completely non-cultural measurements of brain reaction-times. It’s really not a matter of contention among people in the field; its only a matter of contention among people whose primary source of information is TV or some other crap. Want a more reliable source than I? Look it up yourself, perhaps starting with a semi-mainstream, left-leaning publication like Scientific American: it’s all right there in black and white, so to speak. T. Sowell’s done a fair amount of research in this field, and claimed in his column that IQ/race data is being suppressed (they wouldn’t let him see the numbers unless he promised not to reveal the racial component). The correlation between measured IQ and “real world performance” (and school performance) is very well documented and shouldn’t be surprising.

    Also, if you care to dig around for “school performance” data, you’ll find that it depends on the demographic of the students more than anything else (blunt form: “crappy schools have stupid students.”) Chinese, Japanese, other Asians and Jews do great no matter what the school system is like; school systems in Iowa, for example, have the same “performance” as European schools because they have the same student demographic; the highest performing students in the world are Japanese kids in American schools. You won’t see any serious reference to that sort of info in your local newspapers or on PC regurgitation TV shows like “20-20.” Julian’s original statement about “crappy” school systems struck me as either quite uninformed or possibly a “regression to the mean” of Political Correctness (don’t make waves and you won’t get fired). Referring to “student performance” as “school performance” is misleading, probably purposely in some cases.

    As Steven Pinker said, “If you don’t want a racial answer, don’t ask a racial question.” (or – don’t make a racial statement if you don’t want a racial criticism).

    What is this “regression” to the “mean” you speak of?
    Basically, the tendency of things to become average, sometimes as you take more measurements, sometimes from other factors.

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