Monday, May 11, 2015

I Feel Bad for Rebecca Wax...While I Revile the Broken System That Continues to Thwart Merit

Image result for Rebecca Wax
FF Rebecca Wax

It's hard to talk/write about people you've met.

Rebecca Wax was an original supporter of List 6019 and of Merit Matters and was among those instrumental in getting the age limit extended to 35 years of age for those who took that ill-fated exam (6019).

This past week, Ms. Wax became the focus of a firestorm for being appointed an FDNY firefighter despite failing the critical physical portion of the Fire Academy's training. (…/woman-to-become-ny-firefighter-despite…/).
It's as though a lot of people have just awakened to "this assault on merit and basic standards"!


It's being going on for a VERY long time now....DECADES even!

ANY time you hear someone talking in terms of "disparate impact," you're listening to someone who opposes MERIT, the use of the Civil Service Merit System and the most basic cognitive and physical standards.

In short, the fault is NOT Rebecca Wax's, but that of ALL those who support the failed and now out-of-favor construct of "disparate impact."

THEY are the real problem...its root cause. Ms. Wax, like the many original female firefighters from 1984, who failed that Exam's Physical (many of those women were allowed to carry their SCBAs around the Fire Academy in shopping carts) are merely symptoms of that systemic problem.

I worked with one of those women in the South Bronx...a lovely woman, who was simply not physically fit enough to do the job. What we did back then was to, in effect, "ride short-handed." That female firefighter was always assigned the "Control" position in the Engine and everyone else moved Nozzle, Back-up, Door, etc. We made it work.

BUT what if they were two such firefighters...or THREE in the same Unit? What then? There's nowhere to cover that many spots.

The truth is that so long as "disparate impact" exists and can be utlized as a weapon by those opposed to merit (it'll ultimately be up to Congress to eradicate that), standards will, in effect, cease to exist, as standards that are so arbitrary and so easily circumvented are no standards at all.

Right now the most basic physical and written/cognitive standards for both the FDNY and NYPD remain under attack. They've ALREADY been eroded over decades of "challenges." The two FDNY Written Entrance Exams that were successfully challenged were calibrated to 7th & 8th GRADE reading levels for a job that ostensibly requires a 12th Grade reading level...a H.S. diploma.

The Physical Standards for the Exam have been reduced to a low level PASS/FAIL Exam that presents a challenge to virtually no one.

The groups who've initiated these challenges are mere pawns. Women have challenged the physicals (despite firefighting being fundamentally a physical job), while the cognitive exams have been challenged in the name of "getting more blacks on the jobs." The idea that basic standards discriminate against entire groups SHOULD BE insulting to all self-respecting members of such groups.

My wife was born into grinding poverty in Kingston, Jamaica and came here with a Chartered Accountancy (a CPA in the English System, not used here), went through Baruch College's Accounting program and passed the rigorous 4-Part CPA Exam that, yes, the Association of Black Accountants continues to challenge based on the SAME shameful "disparate impact" claims.

Make no mistake, the central idea behind all that is, "We don't need exceptional, even above average people to do these jobs, we can hand them out to anyone and they'll eventually get done."
THAT has been the central idea behind the anti-standards movement for decades now.

So, to suddenly wake up and think that Rebecca Wax is THE problem is to misunderstand the entire issue. It SHOULDN'T be all that confusing.

IF that's our thinking on this, we might as well all go back to sleep.

The coming, inevitable crisis will probably wake us all up!

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