Smokers Need Not Apply, but the Stupid Should Feel Free

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“Smokers Need Not Apply, but the Stupid Should Feel Free.”  That’s the headline in Abby W. Schachter’s New York Post blog entry for January 2, 2012.  The reference is to a letter from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) proposing that requiring a high school diploma to get a job may violate the Americans With Disabilities Act.  Fortunately, for now, the letter is only an “informal discussion letter.”  The most thorough coverage is in the Washington Times.

Several comments in the Times article note that such a rule would reduce the incentive to graduate from high school.  True enough.  But get this response from EEOC:

“No, we don’t think the regulation would discourage people from obtaining high school diplomas,” said Peggy Mastroianni, legal counsel for the EEOC. “People are aware that they need all the education they can get.”

Oh, really?  Then why does the Department of Education continue to beat the drum with the message to stay in school and graduate from high school?  Here’s one example:

“The Commission is concerned about the unacceptably high dropout rate in secondary education for Hispanic students. According to the NCES,24 in 2000 Hispanics comprised the highest percent of high school status dropouts25 (27.8 percent, compared to 13.1 percent for African Americans, 6.9 percent for non-Hispanic whites, and 10.9 per- cent for the national average). Immediate, effective intervention strategies are needed.” (U.S. Department of Education, From Risk to Opportunity, March 3, 2003, dated Sept. 17, 2009 on web search.)

This from Shay Greenwood in a comment on the Washington Times site: “If a high school diploma is not necessary, then the Education Department is now officially obsolete making it item #1 on list of programs to cut. Thank you for your help EEOC!”

Wow.  And this administration claims to support education?  Where are Arne Duncan and President Obama?  Increasingly I get the impression that no one is in charge of a Washington bureaucracy that is running amok.  Once again, I must point out that rules and proposals like this are inhibiting hiring and keeping the unemployment rate high.

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About Tony Lima

Retired after teaching economics at California State Univ., East Bay (Hayward, CA). Ph.D., economics, Stanford. Also taught MBA finance at the California University of Management and Technology. Occasionally take on a consulting project if it's interesting. Other interests include wine and technology.