NYC paying billions to people who failed "racist" teaching exams

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

It will probably come as a surprise to the people who have been fretting over New York City’s more than $1 billion budget shortfall, but the Big Apple is still giving away money like candy. The cash isn’t available to just anyone, of course. The latest traunch of “free money” will be going to a particular subset of Black and Hispanic residents. Those would be the ones who took the public service exams required to become a teacher and failed. And some of those people will be receiving millions of dollars and possibly even start collecting pension benefits despite never having worked a day in their lives in the public school system. What a sweet deal, eh? (Daily Wire)

New York City will pay nearly $2 billion to black and Hispanic people who wanted to become teachers but failed the exam, settling a lawsuit that alleged that the disparate passage rates showed that the test was racist.

Some individuals who never worked as teachers will get more than $1 million each, and could even get pensions which will inflate the cost well beyond $1.8 billion, the New York Post reported. The Post interviewed 64-year-old Herman Grim, who will be paid $2,055,383 after failing the test “a lot.” He could not provide any examples of how the questions were racist.

One anonymous Brooklyn principal told The Post the city was “crazy” to settle the case because “The standards are the standards … To hire people who are not qualified and change the requirements because a certain group didn‘t pass the test is bulls**t.”

The “racist test” in question is the Liberal Arts and Sciences Test (LAST) that was used by the city in the early 1990s. It’s true that an examination of the test results showed that white test takers passed at a rate of approximately 90% while Black applicants only passed 53% of the time. Hispanics fared even more poorly. But how do you explain the “inherent racism” when everyone was taking exactly the same test?

After the LAST was abandoned in favor of a different test called Praxis, very little changed. White applicants still passed on average at a 35% higher rate or more than Blacks or Hispanics. If LAST was racist, why did the new test fail to correct the problem? The city then moved to yet another, supposedly more subjective test called edTPA. That didn’t move the needle either. Black prospective teachers failed the edTPA at nearly twice the rate of whites and Hispanics.

Here’s an alternate theory for the city to consider. Perhaps many of these applicants were the products of the same failing school systems that they sought to teach in. The public schools in New York have been a disaster for quite some time, with the schools in majority-minority neighborhoods frequently faring the worst. If you want the test scores to start coming up, perhaps you could begin by fixing the schools.

Sometimes governments will settle nuisance lawsuits just to avoid running up massive legal costs, which can be frustrating while still understandable. But there is no way that this suit was costing the city billions of dollars, which is literally what they will be paying out. This was a conscious and very political decision on the part of the municipal government and the bill will be shouldered by the taxpayers.

If anything is “racist” about the teacher testing system, it’s the result of this lawsuit. If you happened to fail one of those tests back in the day and you are Asian or white, good luck in your job at the warehouse. But if you were Black or Hispanic, it’s time to start shopping for a new condo near the park. No explanation was given as to how some of the plaintiffs were identified as being “Black enough” or “Hispanic enough” to qualify for the payments. Race, like beauty, is apparently in the eye of the beholder.

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David Strom 12:40 PM | July 24, 2024