2011-06-03 / Editorial/Opinion

What’s Important Is Standards, Not Diversity

The hiring of new firefighters for the New York City Fire Department has become contentious, with a federal judge ruling that the test used to choose new hires unlawfully worked against minority candidates. His judgment was based not on an analysis of the test, but because the results showed a great disparity between white and minority candidates and was a piori racist. Apparently, Judge Nicholas Garaufis, the same federal judge who has ordered the dismantling of the adult homes on the peninsula, thinks that diversity is more important than standards and qualifications. Our City Councilman, James Sanders Jr., agrees. He is the chair of the Council’s Civil Service and Labor Committee, which has passed a resolution calling for “greater equality and diversity in the fire department.” This is a laudable goal, but Sanders wants to achieve it by granting extra points to those who live in the city. While city residents already get extra points on the civil service test, they must now prove that they live in the city and have either a high school diploma or a GED diploma. Sanders wants to do away with those “flawed criteria.” Since when is proof of education a flawed criterion? In fact, a high school education is a criterion in the great majority of jobs in this nation. What Sanders wants is a quota system, where a number of candidates get the job whether or not they pass the test or are qualified for the job at hand. Diversity is good, but standards are better. Once again, Sanders is wrong on an issue that could impact the lives of Rockaway residents.

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