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Chicago Test Reform

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  • Chicago Test Reform

    I have to say, Beavers' take on this issue is refreshing.


    The City Council's most powerful black alderman urged Mayor Daley on Wednesday to scrap a pass-fail system and hire candidates who took Chicago's first firefighters entrance exam in more than a decade in order of their test scores.

    Although 21 percent of the 17,000 applicants who passed are black, retiring Budget Committee Chairman William Beavers (7th) said he would "take my chances" with a rank-order hiring list.

    "I believe black folks are as smart as white folks. I ain't never thought nothing different. So, give them the scores that they get. I'll take my chances," said Beavers, known for his street talk.

    "Everybody can't be equal. Everybody can't get the same score. If the top score is 100, have a cutoff and take everybody in sequence. Highest scores first. That's the only way you can make sure it's done right. You don't know what they do when they put a lottery in. I've seen them do it in the past. I don't trust the way they do it."

    The Chicago Sun-Times reported last month that more than 83 percent of the 20,400 people who took the May 25 and 26 exam passed -- and 44 percent of them are minorities.

    Daley denied the city was "lowering the standards" to achieve diversity. But that didn't stop John Chwarzynski, president of Chicago Fire Fighters Union Local 2, from calling the system a "joke -- no different than buying a lottery ticket." He accused City Hall of endangering firefighters and the general public by allowing an unusually high passage rate on a "ninth-grade-level" exam to determine the next list of firefighter candidates.


    On Wednesday, Chwarzynski picked up an unlikely ally in Beavers -- and the South Side alderman was not alone.

    Powerful Rules Committee Chairman Richard Mell (33rd) also took potshots at the pass-fail system.

    "It's so aggravating to see these people who really want to be firemen not make it. When people come to my office, I want to know what to tell them. It's a computerized, Social Security [number]-driven process. If you've got the luck of the draw, you've got a chance," Mell said.

    After testifying at City Council budget hearings, Fire Commissioner Ray Orozco categorically denied that the decision to pass 83 percent of test-takers, lump them into a pool and assign them a random ranking based on an algorithm that uses their Social Security numbers would endanger public safety.

    "Where do we get off that we're lowering the standards? It wasn't an examination given to be a firefighter. It was an examination given to establish a pool [from] which to pull candidates. That's why they're in school for six months vs. three weeks or something. . . . That's where we teach them to be firefighters and paramedics -- at the training division at the fire academy," he said.

    Orozco also revealed that response times that spiked last year are down slightly because of unseasonably mild weather and a more accurate way of calculating times that does not include arson investigators and department brass.

  • #2
    Sounds fair to me! Let the best candidate WIN!!!
    IAFF member, Love this job! Remember the oath!


    • #3
      I know a fair number of people don't finish the academy. If they make it harder at the academy then it may be just fine.
      Not that I really care, I've got a job, but something has to be done to control people complaining about race and such in Chicago. This may do it. I've got faith in the instructors at the academy that the people who don't belong will get weeded out.

      And if it doesn't we'll be going change of quarters more


      • #4
        I ain't never thought nothing different.
        Nice use of English.

        I agree, rank them based on score.
        "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?


        • #5
          Merit and fitness, the only fair and equitable method out there.



          • #6
            With an 83% pass rate why even have the test? Seems like a waste of time and money.

            Nice to see a politician on the side of common sense for a change.


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