While campaigning in 2008, Barack Hussein Obama said he planed to take a fresh, objective look at the debate over education issues. “A truly historic commitment to education – a real commitment will require new resources and new reforms,” he said. President Barack Obama told students at a Washington DC high school that some kind of postsecondary education is a must: “…but the fact of the matter is that more than 60 percent of jobs in the next decade will require more than a high school diploma. That’s the world you’re walking into.” And in March, 2010, he said that the United States must get a handle on its high-school dropout crisis if it is to succeed in the next century, arguing that giving up on school means “giving up on your family’s future and giving up on your country’s future.”
In the “unintended consequences” department, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) warned that requiring a high school diploma from a job applicant might violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC, on December 2, 2011, said a requirement of a high school diploma, long a standard criterion for screening potential employees, must be “job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.” The EEOC also said that employers could violate the ADA if their requirement of a high school diploma “‘screens out’ an individual who is unable to graduate because of a learning disability that meets the ADA’s definition of ‘disability.'”
This “informal discussion letter” from the EEOC has placed potential employers in a “Catch 22,” or no-win situation. Some attorneys are advising clients to change the hiring process. “Employers are wise to evaluate whether a high school diploma really is necessary to perform the essential functions of any job for which it is being required,” said Lisa Whittaker, a lawyer with the Porter Wright law firm. Maria Greco Danaher, a lawyer with the labor and employment law firm Ogletree Deakins, said the EEOC letter means that employers must determine whether job applicants whose learning disabilities kept them from obtaining diplomas can perform the essential job functions, with or without reasonable accommodation.
Part of the problem with this new interpretation is knowing what a high-school diploma equips graduates to do. The public-education system is more concerned with turning out a student with politically-correct attitudes and an inflated sense of entitlement rather than relevant job skills. Requiring an applicant to have a diploma is simply a means of identifying people who have demonstrated the ability to show up. Most employers would probably have a difficult time articulating exactly what they expect when they require a diploma, much less be able to convince a skeptical bureaucrat that it is “consistent with business necessity,” especially when “necessity” is defined by the government.
Perhaps the EEOC may want to consult with Obama before making any more interpretations or announcements.
But that’s just my opinion.
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