The Rockaway Beat
The issue of diversity wasn’t even on my radar until it cost me my career as an educational writer.
In 1965, I was an editor for Xerox Education Publications, the educational publisher in Middletown, Connecticut that brought such periodicals as “Weekly Reader,” “Current Events” and “Current Science” to millions of school desks throughout the nation.
I was editing a new special education periodical dubbed “You and Your World,” after leaving the city schools for a new career and a new state.
Early in 1980, the federal government sued Xerox, the machine giant that had bought the company from Wesleyan University, because it did not have enough “exempt” women or minority employees, those at the middle management level.
In order to keep the government from tampering with the valuable and lucrative machine division, Xerox decided to cut males and hire women in their place at all their ancillary companies such as XEP.
In fact, XEP itself met the targets as its publisher was a woman and so were many of the periodical editors.
No matter, white men must go and there I was, a white man who had just received the best performance review and the largest raise of anybody in the house.
No matter. White men must go and six months later, after a “decision tree” exercise, there I went.
My downsizing review officer (that’s actually what they called her) told me that it couldn’t be helped and that it was better for the company to be diverse rather than keep me around.
My son was a toddler and I had just purchased a home in Portland, Connecticut, so while the exercise did not mean much to Xerox and fulfilled a federal mandate to become diverse, to me it was a total knockout.
Done in by diversity.
My wife wanted to go back to New York City to work for her old boss and my son didn’t like having only three television stations and an antenna you had to turn in order to get those stations.
We came back to Rockaway and I went back to the public school system, from which I had come only five years earlier.
The only jobs available were in special education, so I went back to college and became a special education teacher and a freelance writer, a curriculum editor and then, on retirement, the editor of The Wave.
It has been a good ride, and I believe that I earned it all.
Nobody gave it to me simply because I am a white male. In fact, they tried to take it away from me several times simply because I was born white and male – and, perhaps because I was Jewish.
Perhaps I’m churlish on the issue because it has impacted me negatively on a personal level, but I think that it is wrongheaded to punish one citizen to reward another simply because he or she is not white or a male.
Today, diversity has become a huge issue and it is right now, as you read this, in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, the highest court in the nation and the one that is supposed to protect individual rights under the Constitution.
Abigail Fisher was a high school senior in Texas and her dream was to go to the University of Texas (hook ’em horns).
She did not get in, but a minority candidate who had fewer qualifications than she did was admitted to the university because of the color of his or her skin.
Fisher sued, even though the Supreme Court had already said that racial quotas could not be used but, in the name of diversity, race could be used as one of the variables in determining admission to state schools.
The original decision was made by a much more liberal court than the one that sits today, so perhaps that decision will be overturned and merit, rather than diversity, will once again reign in making college entrance decisions.
In New York City, we have two examples of how diversity is destroying the idea that merit matters.
The first might one day kill you, and that is not too strong a statement.
At one time, prospective firefighters had to take a competitive physical test that measured how well they could operate under real-world conditions. It included carrying a 150 pound “person” out of a fire building and pulling heavy hoses from trucks.
It also included a written test that mostly measured reading ability and the ability to understand emergency directions such as “warning.”
Because an insufficient (for Judge Nicholas Garaufis) number of women and minorities passed the test, he ruled that it was racist and he appointed a high-priced former prosecutor to ensure that more minorities and women were hired.
The most recent test satisfied him, but it did not include the difficult physical test. If I am in a fire, I want somebody who can carry my 225 pounds out of the building, not somebody who got the job simply because he or she was a protected class.
The other involves the test for the top high schools in the city –Stuyvesant, Science and Brooklyn Tech.
There is no argument that they are some of the best schools in the nation, and the only way to get in was through a very tough academic competitive test.
Now, under the theory that the test must somehow be flawed because not enough black and Hispanic students get in, the diversity police want to make the test easier to allow those minorities entry.
First of all, it insults minorities, many of whom can pass the test, and it diminishes the schools and their students.
Diversity is nice, but it does not beat merit, and those scammers who want it differently are diminishing us all, including themselves.