Monday, January 25, 2010

Too Stupid To Be True?

Pictured Above: Two of Chicago's leading policy makers.

In social and economic policy we can discern two general approaches to improving the welfare of its citizenry. One that seeks to improve welfare by redistributing social & economic capital, whereas the other seeks to achieve the same end by increasing the general level of capital.

The first path is alluring because it offers almost instant benefits to its recipients, whereas the second path is pursued by few politicians, because it is slow, laborious and requires a populace that is committed to self improvement.

Surveying the successes and failures of diverse nations, I am certain that the latter path is the only one that provides a firm foundation for long term wealth, peace and prosperity, as best seen in South Korea, Taiwan and Israel. Conversely, socialist nations that pursued the path of redistribution, condemned the majority of its people to squalor and deprivation.

Unfortunately the political establishment of Chicago shows a greater inclination towards the failed path of redistribution. When faced with the reality that a comparatively low number of
African-Americans and Latinos were passing the police entrance examination, the city declared its intention to toss out the examination entirely.

I can think of no better example of lowering standards in the name of equality and diversity. The end result of engineering equal outcomes at the expense of merit is an increase in the cost of and a reduction in the quality of city services. To do so in a slothful city bureaucracy is foolish, but to do so with civil servants who are vital to the safety and welfare of Chicagoans constitutes criminal neglect. And ironically, the cost of lowering the quality of policemen will be most heavily born by African-Americans and Latinos who disproportionately are the victims of crime.

An administration committed to building human capital would strive to help foster educational & professional development in African-American and Latino communities. Rather than lower standards of excellence, they would help more people achieve those standards. And instead of offering jobs to the less qualified, they would work to address the underlying factors which have led to a lower presence of qualified individuals in certain communities.

First and foremost they would work to improve Chicago Public Schools and increase
opportunities for individuals of marginalized communities to attend quality private schools. Secondly, they would seek to address the underlying cultural factors that have slowed the development of human capital in diverse communities.

Unfortunately this is highly unlikely, because few politicians are willing to take on the administrators and teacher's unions that for the most part defend the status quo.

And even fewer are willing to candidly speak to African-Americans and Latinos as capable adults who, like all human beings, hold the key to their own self improvement. Rather, these politicians
sell cheap narratives of victimology that may earn them votes, but have yet to improve the quality of a single classroom or police officer.

Police may scrap entrance exam

'OPEN UP THE PROCESS' Union chief: It's 'too stupid to be true'

January 6, 2010


The Chicago Police Department is seriously considering scrapping the police entrance exam to bolster minority hiring, save millions on test preparation and avert costly legal battles that have dogged the exam process for decades, City Hall sources said Tuesday.

If the process is opened to everyone who applies and meets the minimum education and residency requirements, Chicago would be virtually alone among major cities. Most cities have police entrance exams -- and for good reason, experts say.

"A background check and a psych [exam] alone will not eliminate some people who should not be there," said Brad Woods, who ran the Personnel Division under former Chicago Police Superintendents Phil Cline and Terry Hillard.

Calling an application-only process a "step backward" and the "wrong way to go," Woods said, "When you lower your quality, you will get poor police service and more complaints. ... Whenever you make it easier to be the police, you're doing the citizens and the Police Department a disservice."

Charlie Roberts, who ran the training division from 1995 to 1999, noted that there are "eleven tracks" recruits must go through in the police academy, including the law and the municipal code.
"If you don't give someone at least a reading comprehension test, can you just put them in and risk the possibility of having so many of them fail? That could get quite expensive," Roberts said.
"We were getting people with 60 hours of college credit who were reading at a third-grade level. What do you think you'll get if you have no screening process?"

Human Resources Department spokesperson Connie Buscemi acknowledged Tuesday that the Daley administration has been exploring other "options" since last fall, when a "request-for-proposals" for companies interested in preparing an on-line police entrance exam was cancelled.

The last police entrance exam was held on Nov. 5, 2006.

"We wanted to try to develop something on-line to allow the city to accommodate members of the U.S. military who are on active duty. But, we didn't get any responses that met our needs. No one said they could administer an on-line exam" and guarantee its integrity, Buscemi said.

"We're [now] reviewing our options on how to administer the police application process."

Other sources confirmed that the police entrance exam could be scrapped altogether "to open up the process to as many people as possible." A final decision could be made later this week.

Fraternal Order of Police President Mark Donahue said the idea "sounds too stupid to be true."

"You need a testing process. ... You need to be very concerned about the very limited information you would get from just a screening and application process," Donahue said.

Hiring and promotions in the Police and Fire Departments have generated controversy in Chicago for as long as anyone can remember.

The criticism reached a crescendo in 1994 after a sergeants exam produced just five minority promotions out of 114.

The test was the first to be administered by the city after "race-norming" -- the practice of adjusting scores on the basis of race -- was ruled unconstitutional.

In November 2005, City Hall announced plans to offer the police entrance exam a record four times the following year -- and for the first time on the Internet -- after an unprecedented outreach campaign that bolstered the number of minority applicants to 34 percent black, 24 percent Hispanic and 26 percent women.

More than two years later, black ministers told newly-appointed Police Supt. Jody Weis that, if he was serious about re-establishing trust between police and the black community, he should start by hiring and promoting more African Americans.

The Police Department is currently operating at least 2,000 officers-a-day short of authorized strength, counting vacancies, medical leave and limited duty.

Mayor Daley's 2010 budget uses federal stimulus funds to add just 86 officers, 30 of them for the CTA.

That's nowhere near enough hiring to solve a manpower shortage that, Weis fears, will get dramatically worse when as many as 1,000 more officers retire later this year.,CST-NWS-policeexam06web.article

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