New Yorkers score up to .1 million each for failing teachers’ exam – media

The city has settled a decades-old discrimination lawsuit filed by black and Hispanic would-be educators, the New York Post reported

Black and Hispanic aspiring teachers who failed a New York City licensing exam have won as much as $2.1 million each after the city settled a decades-old discrimination lawsuit for $1.8 billion, the New York Post revealed on Saturday.

Some 225 people who failed the Liberal Arts and Sciences Test, which the city used to license teachers between 1994 and 2014, have already been notified they have hefty rewards – over $1 million each – coming, the Post reported, citing Manhattan federal court records. 

The payments are based on how much the recipient would have earned if they had passed the test and either kept or obtained their teaching job and even include health insurance and pension checks from the jobs they 

Herman Grim, who won nearly $2.1 million for repeatedly flunking the exam in the early 1990s despite claiming he hired private tutors and studied hard, was unable to come up with any examples of how the test was biased when asked by the Post. He finally became a special education teacher for the city only last year, having passed the current version of the exam.

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New Yorkers score up to .1 million each for failing teachers’ exam – media
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The suit was initially filed in 1996 on behalf of four teachers but subsequently expanded to include 5,200 aspiring and ex-teachers. While over 90% of white applicants passed the multiple-choice exam, between 51 and 62% of black test-takers were successful, and just 47 to 55% of Latinos passed.

Not only were the questions, including one which asked the test-taker to explain the meaning of a painting by visual artist Andy Warhol, “culturally biased” in favor of whites, but the test failed to predict “competent job performance,” as it did not measure “general knowledge, teaching skills, or competency in content areas,” the plaintiffs argued. 

While the city has always countered it should not be held liable for an exam the state required it to use and even won the case in a 2003 trial, a Manhattan federal judge in 2012 found the city liable because it had made hiring decisions based on the test results.

The judge ruled that the tests were discriminatory as they had an illegal “disparate impact” on black and Latino teachers and had no bearing on performance in the classroom, and a federally-appointed special master ordered the payments. As the city continued to appeal, former mayor Bill de Blasio quietly began the process of settling in 2018, setting aside $1.8 billion to pay off the plaintiffs – the largest payout in city history.

De Blasio also opted to settle a long-standing discrimination lawsuit with black and Hispanic firefighters denied jobs by the Fire Department of New York in 2014, paying out $98 million. 

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