Okay, it was no surprise that The Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Haven’s white firefighters. “Reverse discrimination” has become a popular refrain from Republican advocates in the media and the courts, ever since the Alan Bakke case. In that instance diversity was said to have a legitimate role in admissions guidelines but Bakke’s right to be admitted to medical school was also affirmed – – a kind of end-around split decision.
The issue of fairness at colleges and universities and in employment situations remains, however, unresolved in the minds of jurists and among the general population. The fact that there is such a heavy emphasis on test scores as the gauge for admission or advancement is one troubling aspect of the debate. It would seem that much of the rancor surrounding discrimination or its reverse could be held in check if test scores were just one factor in determining the makeup of an institution or a workforce. Everyone understands that personal style, experience and, in some cases, physical ability are features that affect an applicant’s performance; test scores tell only part of the story.
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