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State strikes deal on discriminatory fire, police exams

Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by Real World, May 31, 2007.

  1. Real World

    Real World Rookie

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    Can anyone explain to me what was discriminatory about the previous tests? I'm not sure I'm following this properly.


    State strikes deal on fire, police exams
    Calls for more minority hires

    By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff | May 31, 2007

    The state has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit by requiring Boston, Brookline, and 18 other cities and towns to offer police and firefighter jobs to minority applicants who took civil service exams that a judge later found were discriminatory. The state would also pay a total of up to $1.45 million in back pay.

    The agreement, which will be presented to a federal judge for approval Wednesday, calls for the hiring of 66 minority candidates statewide, including 26 in Boston, who scored high on police or fire exams between 2002 and 2005, but lost out to higher-scoring white candidates.

    A federal judge ruled last summer that the state's 2002 and 2004 firefighter exams discriminated against blacks and Hispanics and was about to hold a trial to consider additional claims resulting from arguments that the 2003 and 2005 police exams were also unfair to members of minority groups.

    Harold L. Lichten, a lawyer who filed the class-action suit against the state and the city of Lynn on behalf of four black firefighter applicants, said they agreed to settle because the state came up with a new "state of the art" exam last year that appears to be much fairer to minorities.

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/ma...5/31/state_strikes_deal_on_fire_police_exams/
  2. Harry Boy

    Harry Boy Look Up, It's Amazing PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I think I'll stay out of this one for awhile, if I give you my take on this they will close the thread.
  3. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I don't know. I just did a search on the internet and couldn't find more info. But as the article said, the applicants all had very high scores and the test has some bias. For instance, I am surprised the test didn't take into account strength. That would seem relevant. I'm also surprised that it had some questions that had nothing to do with firefighting. With a long and well-established history of discrimination in MA fire and police departments, is it any surprise that some would believe the tests are weighted unfairly?

    At any rate, are tests scores really the only metric used to hire police and firefighters in MA. If so, that seems insane. Would you ever hire someone based solely on a test? There needs to be some subjectivity to the process, though I'm not sure if this suit addressed that at all.
  4. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Smart move, Harry. Besides, I'm sure we already know what you think, and RW might very well present your point of view in a more politically correct manner.
  5. Real World

    Real World Rookie

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    I looked and couldn't find anything. What made me question the exams is that the article said it was discriminatory towards minorites. What kind of questions would be to them, and not to whites?

    The physical aspect was a little baffling too. You'd think they'd want people who could handle a hose, or chase down a thug. Maybe that was deemed discriminatory? I dunno.
  6. Real World

    Real World Rookie

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    Harry is a little more to the point than most. ;)
  7. sdaniels7114

    sdaniels7114 Rookie

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    The back pay part pisses me off. The roofer guy wasn't unemployed because of this test being unfair, he was roofing during that time. If he lost some seniority status give him a bump with respect to that, but he doesn't deserve back pay.

    Oh and won't the whole 'strength' thing just get women filing lawsuits? Damn, I should have been a lawyer:mad:
  8. taltos

    taltos Rookie

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    This is strictly based upon what was reported in today's Lynn Item in regards to the problems with the exam. The test included questions not related to the job being tested for. In addition the exam tested cognitive abilities which was considered dscriminatory toward minorities. The Item reported that the settlement was based upon minority complaints that the civil service exam questions and writing sections were "too hard". The plaintiffs also complained that beyond the test the state did not take into account applicants' personalities and life experiences. Make your own conclusions from here.
  9. Real World

    Real World Rookie

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    I know what the article said, but what it didn't say, is what was discriminatory about the previous test. If minorities thought the questions were too hard, that's complete BS. What are they saying then, that minorities are dumber than white people? That's utterly ridiculous.
  10. Harry Boy

    Harry Boy Look Up, It's Amazing PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Could it be the "Veteran Thing" and also could they want the Standards lowered.

    My son is Mass Firefighter and retiring next month with a Captains Rank which means a very good pension, he has 32 yrs service, he has told me that the Veteran thing is a must now and also that most all of the new people coming on the job are College Grads, the benefits, the 24 hr shifts (five days off) the sick pay, the vacation time, the job security, the overtime, the pension plan and the pay scale has made "firefighting" a very attractive career.

    They are probably claiming that the tests are discriminatory because some folks aren't veterans and some folks FLUNK the tests, that might be the answer because so many College People are going "on the job".

    Jesus H Christ I hope I didn't offend anybody.
    :bricks:
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2007
  11. pats-blue

    pats-blue Rookie

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    Yeah God forbid a test for police officers test cognitive abilities...

    I took the LAPD exam back in 1990 and they were GIVING minority candidates between 15 - 35 points onto thier scores (depending on the what minority...African American women were getting 35 points on the high end and Asian males were getting 15 poits on the low end..the rest were in between) So if I understand this they are blaming the test for thier scores? Not them getting the questions wrong that resulted in them scoring lower than the selected candidates. Like RW I would like to know how you write a question testing math, English, ect skills in a bias way that "minorities" don't understand. Last time I saw something like this the questions had to do with a length of rope and it being cut into different sections and somehow it was bias. If anyone here thinks these morons will make good cops or firemen(doesn't sound like it just saying) the city will now have employees doing the bare minimum. If you make excuses for your lack of performance in these jobs you put people in danger.

    For those that wonder yes the physical aspect of the testing is limited in the selection process BECAUSE of crap like this in the past brought up by people that couldn't pass the physical tests and God forbid that you be required to be physically fit to be a firemen or cop. BUt now you don't even need to be tested for cognative ablities now I guess as being able to reason things out seems to be too hard for people wanting to be Police Officers and Firemen....:bricks:
  12. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I think cognitive ability refers to IQ type questions, which are often fact based. For instance, someone who grows up in a middle class community may learn more "proper" English than somone in a poor community and thus be at a disadvantage. In addition, IQ tests ask questions based on commonly known historical facts, such as "When is Washington's birthday?" Depending on one's schooling, they may or may not know the answer.

    If the test was strictly logical questions, then the point about cognitive ability is valid, but it sounds like there were fact based questions unrelated to firefighting.

    At any rate, the people who challenged the test all scored very high. It's not like they were stupid people, but they very well could have been at a disadvantage if some of the questions demanded the kind of knowledge typically learned in suburban schools.

    Of course, it's also possible, as some people seem to imply, that this is an example of reverse racism and that the courts, attorney general, media, and various others are colluding against white people, but that's the stuff for conspiracy theorists.
  13. Real World

    Real World Rookie

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    Yeah but did they test high because they were awarded points? I'd like to know that. Furthermore, if you can't speak fugging english, it's your own fault, and not the fault of your neighborhood. This crap about being poor means your dumb is ridiculous. If people can't read english properly, then maybe they shouldn't be a cop. This crap gets me really upset sometimes. I want to know what was discriminatory about those previous exams. These jobs aren't the drive thru at Burger King you know. That article should have stated what was deemed discriminatory. They very well may have been, but they've made me wonder now.
  14. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    This seems to get back to my lament about the decline of quality news reporting on tv and in the press. If newspapers find a way to rebound, they will have a reporter investigate the story more fully, even look at the actual exams and provide examples of the questionable questions. Until then, all we have are talking heads, like ourselves, relying on conjecture and speculation.
  15. pats-blue

    pats-blue Rookie

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    Aah yeah nice post now back it up.

    Please find anywhere in the article where they are claiming that the question were bias against "poor" people. NOTHING is mentioned about thier
    financial situation or thier school district the attended. What kind of "knowledge" is taught at "suburban schools"? Where does it indicate that none of these candidates attended "suburban schools"? Everything I read in the article indicates they are claiming the questions were discriminatoryto Blacks and Hispanics...hhhmm didn't read the part where they indicate it was discriminatory of thier financial situation but keep twisting.

    Really curious how you can explain this one. Also you don't think that congnative abilities are important to police work?
  16. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    My only point was the cognitive abilities in testing refers to IQ test type questions, which have long been shown to have a particular cultural bias. Logical questions (such as arranging pieces of a puzzle, remember a list of numbers, or organizing elements of a cartoon strip) are one thing, but questions that test recall on common matters are quite another. It's generally acknowledged that it's difficult to create questions about common matters that do not introduced a cultural bias. This is a major issue for developers of tests. But, again, without actual examples from the court case, it's not clear what the issues were.

    Imagine for example if you were asked which is the correct:

    a. Their house.
    b. Thier house.

    You might choose B. What would that say about your intelligence? Nothing, I think. That's a simple example of the kinds of problems that test developers face.

    Now, I agree, the article wasn't particularly clear, but I presume the reason the case was settled is because their was some validity to the claim the tests had some sort of bias. We can either trust the judge, the attorney general and the lawyers, or not trust them; I choose the former.
  17. pats-blue

    pats-blue Rookie

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    No it was settled because it was to expensive to continue fighting it in court (why the majority of these cases are settled..."Attorney General Martha Coakley's office, which is defending the state, released a statement yesterday that read: "Rather than engage in an extensive appeal process, we felt it was in the best interests of the Commonwealth and all parties involved to adopt the new exam and the new scoring mechanism, which is expected to eliminate any claim of disparate impact and to increase minority hiring."
  18. gomezcat

    gomezcat It's SIR Moderator to you Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I don't know about the tests themselves but the one about IQ tests is fair. Let me give you an example. Re-arrange the following children's TV programmes in the order that they were first shown on TV:
    Bill and Ben
    Grange Hill
    Bob the Builder
    The Magic Roundabout

    Or how about: what is the second line of the National Anthem?:

    Another question might be. Peyton Manning is on the Pats' 44, with a four point deficit, 1:00 remaining on the clock and 1 timeout. Which verb describes how me might next act:
    Choke
    Destroy (the Pats)

    All of the above require a level of logic and reasoning. However, to answer at least one of those questions without cheating, I'm guessing you would have to come from the UK. For the other one, a knowledge of Football would be essential.

    Having said all that, tests ARE needed to see if someone is intelligent enough to be a cop or firefighter. There are ways to make them unbiased though:

    I guess you could have questions like, "You are a cop. You left your gun at the Donut/ hotdog stand, along with your radio. A known drug dealer, with a string of firearms convictions, is on the other side of the street. Do you try to arrest him with your bare hands?"

    Note for heavily armed Police officers reading this thread. The above question is a joke. Please don't hurt me. :eek: :p
  19. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Those are good examples, gomezcat. I think pats-blue is thinking that cognitive abilities only refers to questions that can be solved by reasoning, not by drawing on one's knowledge of tv, language, history, etc. But, it also appears he wants to read an anti-white message into the settlement without an iota of evidence. That rational thing, I think, is to assume that if there was a settlement, there was some validity to the original claim. Coakley's comment about "Rather than engage in an extensive appeal process" was simply a case where the state refused to admit any guilt, which would might have opened them up to other suits. At least that's my interpretation of the situation, but without more details it's all a guessing game.
  20. pats-blue

    pats-blue Rookie

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    whats one of your favorite lines...Oh yeah "attack the messenger" I like how you don't answer a SINGLE question I posed. For your information trying to put a racist bent on my posts you are way off base. I personally could care less what color a persons skin is or their sex for being a cop, just that they are the most qualified. The BEST partner I ever had was a Hispanic female officer, she worked very hard had a style of police work that covered my weak points and mine covered hers. She wouldn't have been the greatest in a fight since she was 5'3" 110 but I KNOW she ould have given all she had and there are some cops I simply wouldn't count on in a fight. I have stated FACTS no whining about "anti-White" the LAPD did give those points that is a FACT. My point being you brought up economics yet the lawsuit only is dealing with ethnic backgrounds. I called you on that and you ignored that, then you go into the race baiting rather than answer my question. Still waiting for an ACTUAL cognative question that was used in a civil service test that is culturally biased. I took a police test and just FYI there were no questions about British TV on there and as long as they are asking questions about US history and the English language (hint Police reports are written in English and they conduct thier business in Eglish so someone that comprehends it is desireable) last time I checked we were talking about people that wanted to become cops/firemen in the US so I am not sure how any question dealing with the things you mention have anything to do with someones skincolor. Nice try why don't you try and back up your post rather than try and cast dispersions.
  21. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    As I've said three times, the first time unclearly, it's all speculation. In another thread I lamented the decline of newspapers and the resulting reduction in the quality of reporting. Neither you nor I have any idea about the details of the ruling.

    But, you raised the issue of cognitive abilities, and I merely wanted to point out that that term does not simply refer to problem solving, but also refers to memory type issues that might have a cultural bias. In my opinion, there are many different kinds of cultural biases, and those most likely to introduce those biases into exams are the educated (those who develop the tests) at the expense of the less educated (often poor, often minority). I believe that the same kind of discrimination in tests that affects the blacks and Hispanics who brought the suit may very well be the result of them getting a lower quality education, which often is related to poverty. It's possible the people who brought the suit went to very good schools and excelled there, but I suspect otherwise because to me that makes the most sense. But again, this is all speculation on your part and my part.

    My issue with what you said was your comment about "Yeah God forbid a test for police officers test cognitive abilities...." I think you were thinking of cognitive abilities as the ability to reason, when in many tests it also refers to the ability to remember what the question developer thinks is common knowledge or the questions (as gomezcat showed) may expose the question developer's own cultural bias.
  22. Harry Boy

    Harry Boy Look Up, It's Amazing PatsFans.com Supporter

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    If you get a "DUMB ONE' replace him with a "SMART ONE"
  23. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey

    If you guys are happy dumbing everything down, great. Me, I want high standards for quality jobs - if certain people or groups aren't able to meet those standards they should look inward not outward.
  24. pats-blue

    pats-blue Rookie

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    You went back to the poverty arguement again. The lawsuit has nothing to do with their economic status. while the story doesn't go into detail I agree, it is specific in that it was about Minorities nothing about anything but that. Newsflash I grew up very poor. I had duct tape on my shoes and went to bed hungry amoung other things.

    Testing memory is very pertenant for Officers, I can tell you from training Officers for over 10 years now if they don't have good memorization skills their performance suffers. Not saying they CAN'T do the job but they are handicaped in a way.

    I understand GC "showed" how you can write a question but like I said I have never seen a British TV question on a PD test. How about a legit question? How can one write a question that descriminates on the color of thier skin? What do Whites know that Minorities don't because of thier skin. It isn't about 'poverty" the lawsuit is specifically about skin color.

    I don't care about that they are Minorities I care that people trying to become cops looking for an excuse why they didn't get the job and just try again. I took three police exams and I am very smart and did very well on the tests. One department went on a hiring freeze as I was about to be hired, I already relayed my LAPD experience ( I could only score a 100 and with the points they were giving I was told every hired candidate would have a score OVER a 100) and my current department. Take the damn test again and do better! Stop blaming others! IMO with training hundreds of officers over the years, I dislike cops that make excuses because they have the same attitude as the people we arrest, "not my fault" and blame others for thier misfortune. Cops that make excuses generally make poor decisions in my experience. If you could provide a genuine question used that is biased on skin color I would gladly shut up about it.
  25. Harry Boy

    Harry Boy Look Up, It's Amazing PatsFans.com Supporter

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    The LOONIES aren't satisfied, things are running to smooth for them, the doors are now open for the minorities, every police and fire department in the country now hires and has minorities and women working on the job, this frustrates the Liberal Looney they are looking for something to b!tch about so they have come up with a new one, "STUPID PEOPLE", now they want the standards lowered so MORONS can become Firefighters and Cops, then after we load up these Departments with Morons the next thing will be "Midgets" or, how about some "Blind Firefighters"
    :bricks:
  26. sdaniels7114

    sdaniels7114 Rookie

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    The smartest thing would be to open up the Police Academy to anyone who would want to go, excluding convicted felons, four yr olds and Quadriplegics of course. Charge tuition, and then use their performance at the academy to decide who gets to be a cop. The whole idea of picking who gets to be a cop first and then sending them to school to see if they have an aptitude is backwards. The Prosecutors who the cops work with all the time don't take the Bar Exam first and go to Law School second.
  27. Harry Boy

    Harry Boy Look Up, It's Amazing PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Imagine giving somebody like Jimmy Carter a badge, a gun, and a police car then telling him to go out and protect the people--:singing: :bricks:
  28. PF1996

    PF1996 Rookie

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    The plaintiffs had scores that ranged from 80-94 and 70-92 on a subsequent attempt. Those are not "very high scores" when compared to the "effective cutoff rate of 95" for all applicants. The article stated that the "judge found the test to be biased". Well, tests are intended to be "biased" as their purpose is to exclude individuals who do not meet current required criteria. This was a "disparate impact" case meaning that racial bias is presumed if blacks and hispanics do not get as many high scores as whites (i.e. the average black/hispanic applicant didn't do as well as the average white), not that racial bias in fact exists. The racist belief that blacks/hispanics are dumber than whites exists in both liberal and conservative American circles. Blanket discrimination against blacks is the result of the belief among conservatives. This type of ruling is the consequence of the belief when held by liberals. You shouldn't be "surprised that the test contained some questions that had nothing to do with firefighting" since you do not know that to be a fact. The following is an example of the exam's questions: The 2004 examination, gave applicants five minutes to study an illustrated scene of a fire and subsequently, asked seventeen questions of memorization, such as “How many motor vehicles are shown in the scene?” and “What is the license plate number of the Engine 3 fire truck?” A physical test is given to candidates who have met the cutoff score on the cognitive test.

    "Subjectivity to the process" is exactly what is not needed in job selection decisions particularly as it pertains to eliminating racial/gender bias. It's ironic that the courts by granting the wishes of such plaintiffs (i.e. use of "alternative selection criteria such as personality tests and biographical data") are eliminating objectivity and transparency and paving the way for the restoration of racial and gender bias in job hiring. Minorities and women are going to be in a world of trouble once "benign racism" becomes unacceptable to the white majority.

    I believe cognitive tests measure general reasoning ability and aren't based on knowledge of specific subjects. Thus, I find it highly unlikely that a cognitive test would include a question about Washington's birthday (historical knowledge) or about British TV trivia. I found an example of questions from a firefighter aptitude test and none of the questions involved one's verbal ability. Well, being able to read was required but I think we can all agree that being literate should be a requirement for a firefighter. Relevant "culture bias" on cognitive tests refers to general ideas/methods that differ according to country, (e.g. the metric system), rather than the inability of a native English speaker to correctly spell English words.


    A couple more ironic points to this case.

    The 2002 and 2004 examination appears to have been developed and rigged in such a way to ensure that similar percentages of blacks/hispanics met the passing score of 70 as of whites. Also, a physical test that would have been weighed in the initial ranking of candidates was apparently eliminated due to concerns that the differences in scores between minorities and whites would cause a "disparate impact" on minorities. These actions were taken as a result of prior discrimination claims brought against the department. What this illustrates is that "disparate impact" cases do not motivate employers to make certain that job requirements, particularly entry exams, are designed to be fair and relevant but rather provide incentive for them to design exams to ensure statistical similarity between candidates of all racial groups. Objectivity, competence and effectiveness are sacrificed for "diversity" and protection from lawsuits :rolleyes:
  29. Lifer

    Lifer Banned

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    I find that whole "didnt take into account strength" mention a little baffling. Is this a Jimmy the Greek thing? You know, the minorities are "obviously" stronger because, well, you know, Blacks are bred that way? :confused:
  30. Harry Boy

    Harry Boy Look Up, It's Amazing PatsFans.com Supporter

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    When it come to public safety f-ck the politically correct diversity sh!t.

    I want an inteligent well trained person protecting my family I don't give a sh!t what he looks like.

    God Damned foolish liberal a$s holes.


    Add In the LOONEY GAZETTE:
    Airline Pilots Wanted
    No Expieriance Needed
    Must Have Dark Skin
    Handicapped Welcome
    Illegal Aliens Preferred
    White Christian College Grads Need Not Apply.
    :singing:

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