Chicago Police May Scrap Entrance Exam. Why? Not enough minorities pass.

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by madanthonywayne, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. PsychoTropicPuppy Bittersweet life? Valued Senior Member

    Ah, it must feel good when you can hide your lack of education behind your ethnic background when you fail a test.

    They shouldn't scrap the entrance exam, but they should offer an alternative such as preparation courses where people from all ethnicities can go to, and prepare themselves for the exam.
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  3. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    I'd sure hope not. Criminals aren't going to run more slowly from female cops, nor are unconscious victims of fires going to weigh less for female, er, fighters

    This whole "blame the test" mentality to explain the poor performance of minorites is completely wrongheaded and counter productive. it implies that minorities are too stupid to pass the regular test and teaches them to blame their failures on others rather than buckling down and working harder.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2010
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  5. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    I'll certainly buy that - BOTH points!!!
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  7. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    You know, the scientific method and all

    Can you substantiate that thesis?
  8. Scaramouche Registered Member

    Substantiation: Other people studied and passed. Those guys failed and blamed the test. Counter-productive: it cost the city and fire department an arseload of cash to deal with their whining after failing.
  9. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    Well, what's the counter claim? That the test is somehow culturally biased in a way that screws up blacks and Hispanics, but not Asians? Why is it that first generation Asian students even exceed white students in academic achievement and performance on standardized tests? The answer is simple, they bust their asses and study.

    It has been shown that White and Asian students (especially Asians) spend more time on homework each nite than black and hispanic students:
    The best measure of student effort in the Ed-Excel data is the student's report of how much time he or she spends on weekdays after school studying and doing homework. The data show very small racial differences among classmates. Panel A of Table 4 shows that only Asians stand out as studying more than other groups. Among students not enrolled in honors or advanced placement (AP) classes, Asians report that they study and do homework for about half an hour more per night than other groups.
    So if there is a cultural bias, Asians make up for it by trying harder. Furthermore, blacks and Hispanics are only half as likely to report finishing their homework as Whites/Asians:
    For example, among students not enrolled in honors or AP courses who report about two hours per night doing homework, blacks, Hispanics, and mixed-race students are only about half as likely as whites and Asians (20 percent versus 38 percent) to report that they usually complete all of their homework.
    Blacks and Hispanics seem to be inefficient in their study skills as a very small difference in reported time spent studying seems to yield a big difference in reported rates of finishing homework.

    So you see, minority students, rather than trying harder, actually put less effort into their education than whites. Except, of course, for Asians, and the results of their extra effort is obvious.
  10. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Deeper than skin

    Now, what do you think are the reasons for this? Nirakar has opened a very interesting thread examining how cultural bias affects learning in India, and I think KMguru's response (#2) makes a very valid point:

    This is a reasonably accurate description of what affirmative-action and other racial-, ethnic-, and gender-based considerations in the United States attempt to address. Those who argue against correcting these longstanding effects of our nation's bigoted heritage—whether they intend to or not—would contribute to the perpetuation of these imbalances, and thus affirm those bigots who truly believe that the color of one's skin, or the shape of their eyes, or the anatomy between their legs makes them superior or inferior.
  11. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    There's nothing there about "can't pass the test", or Asians, or any of the crap on this thread. And the problems described seem to be with inconsistent offering of the exam - the failure to "launch" the online version, etc - and racially loaded promotion numbers, and so forth.
    It has not been shown that that makes them better policemen and firefighters.
    In Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota, it was determined that blaming the test was completely accurate and well-founded - that the setup and administration of the tests had been deliberately designed to favor the family and friends of the exisitng (white) firefighting crews, and deny admission or promotion to blacks, under the appearance of testing for merit and qualification.
    The court did not rule that the test was fair.
  12. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    If the problem is a lack of problem solving skills among minorities, the solution is to teach them those skills, not to game the system in their favor. That is treating the symptom while allowing the disease to fester.

    Even worse, affirmative action engenders racial hatred by creating a convenient scapegoat for anyone passed over for benefits given to less qualified minority applicants. It also calls into question the competence of every minority to graduate under a system that doesn't hold them up to the same standards.

    It has also been suggested that minorities that are admitted to elite schools their credentials wouldn't have allowed them to attend where it not for "affirmative action" go on to fail there when they might have passed at less competitive schools. It's called the miss-match theory:
    Data from across the country suggest to some researchers that when law students attend schools where their credentials (including LSAT scores and college grades) are much lower than the median at the school, they actually learn less, are less likely to graduate and are nearly twice as likely to fail the bar exam than they would have been had they gone to less elite schools. This is known as the "mismatch effect."

    Still, certain facts are indisputable. Data from one selective California law school from 2005 show that students who received large preferences were 10 times as likely to fail the California bar as students who received no preference. After the passage of Proposition 209, which limited the use of racial preferences at California's public universities, in-state bar passage rates for blacks and Latinos went up relative to out-of-state bar passage rates.
    So what we have here is a lose-lose proposition that hurts almost everyone involved while perpetuating injustice and racial hatred.

    LA Times​
  13. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    The problem is not as simple as you pretend

    With racial and ethnic segregation on the rise in American schools, this is a problematic assertion. If minority-dominated schools offered equal quality of education, it wouldn't be so much of an issue. Reality, however, apparently suggests otherwise.

    That hatred only seems to occur among those who advocate that the only equality is to preserve standing inequality in society.

    While we hear much about people who were passed over for a job so it could be given to a less-qualified minority candidate, I've never actually encountered this directly. That is not to say that I've never directly encountered the assertion that one only reason someone got a job was because they were a minority. Indeed, I encountered this some years ago while working for an insurance company. Apparently, the black gay man only got his job as an accounting manager because he was black and gay. Of course, the person who asserted this could not establish that he was unqualified or even less qualified than other applicants. Does the company feel a politically correct need, when presented with two equal candidates, to choose diversity? Perhaps. But what guarantee is there that two people with the same qualifications on paper will present themselves identically? To borrow a stereotype, perhaps the gay black man was simply more charming in his interview. Or, equally speculative but less dependent on stereotype, perhaps his career goals matched up better with the company than the other candidate. And so on. And so forth.

    You might, then, point to your Los Angeles Times article, but among the problems there we find the possibility that you have misrepresented your source. There is a paragraph missing from your excerpt with no indication that the text has been changed. And that missing paragraph is important:

    .... This is known as the "mismatch effect."

    The mismatch theory is controversial. One of us (Sander) has advanced it in the academic literature. The other (Amar) believes that while it raises substantial questions, it has not been empirically proved. Some dismiss the whole idea as nothing more than a politically motivated attack on affirmative action or, even worse, an attack on blacks and Latinos -- the main recipients of current preferences. Many rightly point out that definitive conclusions are difficult because the data available to researchers thus far have been limited in very important ways.

    Still, certain facts are indisputable ....

    (Amar and Sander)

    We might consider, for instance, that wealth does not appear significantly accounted for in the article. To what degree does wealth affect one's resource access and, thus, overall performance?

    A lot of legal scholars who focus on empirical work agree that the mismatch effect deserves serious study. A few weeks ago, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued a 280-page report on these issues that came to the same conclusion.

    The best data in the nation for studying any mismatch effect in law schools reside in the archives of the State Bar of California, the state agency that administers the bar exam and oversees the conduct of lawyers. Starting in the 1980s, the California bar has maintained careful records on the backgrounds of bar exam-takers and their performance on its tests. With this data, it is possible to compare how students with similar college grades and LSAT scores do on the bar when they've attended different law schools and experienced different types of legal education. It is also possible to more deeply compare the bar performance of minority students before and after Proposition 209 and use other careful techniques to test whether the mismatch effect exists.


    If the mismatch effect was as definitive as you imply, it would not require serious study and deeper comparisons using more careful techniques to test whether or not it exists.

    It is an idea that needs to be considered, but I do wonder why you feel the need to exaggerate it in order to justify racial hatred.


    Amar, Vikram and Richard H. Sander. "Does affirmative action hurt minorities?" Los Angeles Times. September 26, 2007. January 10, 2010.,0,4501633.story
  14. ScaryMonster I’m the whispered word. Valued Senior Member

    Generally government tests a culturally biased, they assume that the individual problem solves in just one way.
    It’s got nothing to be with how smarts someone’s is! You can be the smartest Eskimo in Greenland but you probably wound pass one of these tests.
  15. John99 Banned Banned

    Do you have an example of questions the "smartest Eskimo in Greenland" would not pass?
  16. mordea Registered Senior Member

    Give him a $100,000 grant and a few research assistants, and he'll get back to you in a few years.

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  17. John99 Banned Banned

    I have not heard of this initiative in Chicage but many police forces require college educations now. Which, of course, is a good thing.
  18. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    Speaking of which, this thread mostly contains individual opinions. Is the test the firefighters were given available anywhere on the Internet? I'd certainly like to see at least SOME of the questions that were on it.

  19. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    We're talking about a policeman's exam.

    Are, for example, "street smarts" a good thing for a cop to have? Do you think these tests measure them?
    I've heard the opposite argued, by an experienced sheriff. He pointed out that the average police department would probably be better off drawing the cream of the crop from the non-college group, as in the past, rather than the dregs and the badly motivated from the college crowd, as now.
  20. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    You're just reinforcing my case. Yes, those things are a problem. Those are the things that need to be fixed. That's what we should concentrate on, not rigging the system in favor of minorities who otherwise wouldn't qualify
    Again, you make my case for me. Even if this black, gay man was as qualified as anyone else, his credentials are called into question and his co-workers resent him because of the racist affirmative action policies.
    I could have posted the whole article, but only posted the part that explained the theory for brevity (I know that's a foreign concept to you

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    ). You'll also note that I only said that "it has been suggested", which should have made clear that the study was not definitive. Otherwise, I would have said "it has been shown" or something like that. And, of course, I included the link which you clearly had no trouble following to read the entire article and get a better understanding of the context.
    Again, I only said the data suggests a mismatch effect. But the idea does make sense.and I'm confident that further study will show it to be true
    You crack me up.
  21. ScaryMonster I’m the whispered word. Valued Senior Member

    Your standard IQ test, mostly in the way the questions assume logic that intelligence is just one thing that can be easily measured and put on a scale, rather than a variety of abilities.
    They also assume intelligence is fixed and permanent. However, psychologists cannot agree whether there is one thing that can be called intelligence, or whether it is fixed, let alone meaningfully measure "it." Studies have shown that IQ scores can be changed significantly by training, but has the individual actually get smarter?
    Also IQ tests are nothing more than a type of achievement test which primarily functions on the exposure to the cultural experiences of middle class whites so people brought up in a lower class or culturally different conditions often don’t do well in them.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2010
  22. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Not in this context. We are talking about a policeman's recruit exam.

    You seem to be buying into the notion that any bureaucratic procedure imposed by a government agency should be assumed to enforce a genuine ranking by merit.
  23. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    Nope, you're talking mostly ancient history. I recall an event that happened back in the late 1970s: Students in their first year in school were given IQ tests and the answer one young lad gave for a question became a matter of concern.

    It was two picture of a man, side by side. In one picture was a man reading and the other was man cutting firewood with an axe. The student was to indicate which picture showed a man working and which showed a man relaxing. The child picked the opposite of what was expected.

    When they investigated, they found out that the boy's father read books for a living (he was a literary critic) and like to chop wood for exercise and relaxation.

    Since that time, the people who produce those tests gave tried VERY hard to remove any type of bias and sociological limitations from them. And test results from the past 10 years or so show that they've done the job pretty good. (Sorry that I can't provide a link but I read it in a article in a well-respected journal a few years back.)
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2010

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