Monday, June 29, 2009

Test scores matter for firemen in in Connecticut but not for teachers in California

Why did New Haven create a formula that relied 60% on a multiple choice test? It's not that I have anything against multiple choice tests. It's just that I can think of jobs where such tests are more important, but are not used at all!

Teachers don't take tests to get raises. But they should.

Supreme Court rules in favor of Conn. firefighters

Group accused city of racial discrimination
Boston Globe
By Joseph Williams

WASHINGTON - A sharply divided US Supreme Court ruled yesterday in favor of a group of white firefighters who accused the city of New Haven of racial discrimination, potentially making it much harder for employers to bring racial balance to the workplace, while handing ammunition to critics of high court nominee Sonia Sotomayor on the eve of her confirmation hearings.

The 5-to-4 ruling struck down the decision of a three-judge federal appeals court panel that included Sotomayor, President Obama’s first Supreme Court pick and the first Latino chosen to serve on the nation’s highest court. Since her nomination, conservative Republicans have attacked Sotomayor’s views on racial preferences and stirring up hot-button questions about whether diversity and background should be considered for a lifetime judicial appointment. If confirmed, Sotomayor would replace retiring Justice David Souter, who agreed with her and sided with New Haven in the case.

Conservative legal analysts were quick to link the ruling, issued on the last day of the court’s session, to Sotomayor.

“It suggests that we have somebody who’s quite out of sync with the right approach to the law in this area,’’ said Roger Clegg, who heads the Center for Equal Opportunity, a conservative think tank.

At the same time, legal analysts said the court’s decision dramatically shifts the affirmative action landscape. Opponents of race-based preferences cheered the ruling as a major step toward a society that doesn’t place significance on color, while supporters said the majority ignored the ongoing need for remedies to past discrimination, virtually wiping out advances made over the last quarter century.

Marge Baker, executive vice president for policy and program planning at People For the American Way, a liberal advocacy group, said the ruling is more evidence that Chief Justice John Roberts is presiding over “a piecemeal dismantling of really, really important civil rights protections.’’

“It’s going to make it harder for the typical employer to make choices in their employment decisions with an eye toward achieving some kind of racial diversity,’’ said Stephen Vladeck, an American University constitutional law professor. “These choices will invariably be seen as discriminatory against whites. The court has been moving this way for some time.’’

At the heart of the case is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which makes it illegal to base hiring decisions on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.’’

Although New Haven had tried to make its promotion examination race-neutral, too many whites and Latinos and too few African Americans met the standard for promotion. The city, worried that it would be sued by black firefighters, voided exam results and did not promote any of the white firefighters, even though they scored high enough to advance...

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