Ignoring a Positive Cancer Test

Baseball Crank reports:

In ... Gulino v. New York State Education Department (2d Cir. Aug. 17, 2006),
the Second Circuit reinstated a race discrimination suit against the
New York State Education Department based on the theory that a test of
"basic college-level content" that asks applicants to get just
two-thirds of the questions right is racially discriminatory because it
has a "disparate impact" on African-American and Latino teachers. The
test, developed in response to a 1988 task force report on problems with teacher quality, is described at pages 11-13 of the opinion.

There is nothing surprising, really, about this.  This theory, that a test that shows African-Americans performing more poorly than whites is by definition racist, has been floating around by decades.  It is particularly popular with various African-American leadership groups.

I have no problem with various ethnic and racial groups bringing expertise to bear to weed out poorly worded questions on exams.  But making this their only reaction to the test - ie the test shows we as a group may have a problem so lets throw the test out - is insane.  By way of explanation, here is a little play to consider:

Doctor:  I am sorry to tell you that you have cancer.  If untreated, it can be fatal.  The good news is that it is treatable, but the treatment will take time and can be quite difficult and painful.

Patient:  Your test is bad.  If other people don't have cancer, then I don't either.  I am going to ignore the result and ask the government to make sure that no one else is allowed to take the test either.

Doctor:  But that's crazy!  The cancer is treatable, but only if we get to work on it right now.

Patient:  You will be hearing from my lawyer for the pain and suffering your bad test has caused me.

I fully believe that the average African American wants her kids to be well educated, and has deep concerns about the quality of the education her kids are getting.  So I will limit my comments to African American "leadership".  Is what these leadership groups are doing in trying to legally strike down tests that show that the education they are getting as a group is failing really any different than a patient ignoring a positive cancer test?

Postscript:  In the article I linked, I do not share the author's concern about political T-shirts at school.

  • Craig

    A better analogy, I think, is to send people out to a rifle range. If white shooters hit the target more often than black shooters, obviously the target is racist and must be replaced.