Obama Administration Urges Students to Drop Out

iStock_000003534224XSmallThroughout his tenure, President Obama and his administrators have often promised to pivot their focus to job creation.  At most, this has been – and remains – an empty promise.

From the stimulus bill (which had a crowding out effect on the job market) to ObamaCare (and its ominous tax consequences, which are scaring employers), the policies of the Obama Administration have actually been hostile towards job growth.

Now, the Obama Administration is again ratcheting up its animus towards job creation.  In early December, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) posted an informal discussion letter to its website that warned employers against asking potential employees if they have a high school diploma.  The EEOC feels that a high school diploma requirement might illegally discriminate against folks under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to the EEOC:

if an employer adopts a high school diploma requirement for a job, and that requirement “screens out” an individual who is unable to graduate because of a learning disability that meets the ADA’s definition of “disability,” the employer may not apply the standard unless it can demonstrate that the diploma requirement is job related and consistent with business necessity.

“Business necessity” will likely be defined by the EEOC on a case-by-case basis.  However, even satisfying that amorphic standard may not protect an employer.  The EEOC continues:

Even if the diploma requirement is job related and consistent with business necessity, the employer may still have to determine whether a particular applicant whose learning disability prevents him from meeting it can perform the essential functions of the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation.

Allowing employers to hire the best person for a given position is common sense.  Unfortunately, common sense rarely fits into the liberal narrative.  Liberals seem to believe that employers, school administrators and human resources workers are inherently bigoted and cannot be trusted to hire or enroll applicants without their bias affecting their decision-making.  Liberals seem to put more faith in bean-counting while they strive to make every classroom and workplace an exact carbon copy of their desired demographic plan.  In this case, without evidence of discrimination against the disabled, the EEOC assumes that it exists, and it is now working to provide a top-down government solution.

The informal guidance does not carry the force of law, but it does signal how the EEOC may interpret the Americans with Disabilities Act going forward.  In addition to the new and unnecessary burden this places on employers, the EEOC guidance may also have another nasty unintended consequence – more high school dropouts.  Mary Theresa Metzler, a Philadelphia employment lawyer explained to the Washington Times that:

There will be less incentive for the general public to obtain a high school diploma if many employers eliminate that requirement for job applicants in their workplace.

That’s right, the EEOC is actively encouraging high school students to drop out.  Study after study shows that Americans with high school diplomas earn significantly more in their lifetime than those who drop out.  No matter, says the EEOC; we must stop implied discrimination!

Liberals constantly strive to level fantasy playing fields at the expense of everyone playing the game.  They believe that no one should ever feel bad, someone must be the victim of discrimination if they don’t get their way.

In his masterful satire, “Screwtape Proposes a Toast,” C.S. Lewis mocked the devolution of society and education under the auspices of such fairness:

The basic principle of the new education is to be that dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils.  That would be “undemocratic.”  These differences between pupils – for they are obviously and nakedly individual differences – must be disguised … At schools, the children who are too stupid or lazy to learn languages and mathematics and elementary science can be set to doing things that children used to do in their spare time.  Let, them, for example, make mud pies and call it modelling.  But all the time there must be no faintest hint that they are inferior to the children who are at work … Children who are fit to proceed to a higher class may be artificially kept back, because the others would get a trauma — Beelzebub, what a useful word! – by being left behind.  The bright pupil thus remains democratically fettered to his own age group throughout his school career, and a boy who would be capable of tackling Aeschylus or Dante sits listening to his coeval’s attempts to spell out A CAT SAT ON A MAT.

For the 2012 fiscal year, the EEOC requested a budget of $385,520,000 (which was $18 million more than it received in 2011)!  To justify all that taxpayer money, the EEOC is apparently seeking new protected classes.  To do so, it must invent or assume new discrimination.

In order to keep this bureaucratic morass going, the EEOC creates a never-ending pipeline of complaints.  With unemployment still stubbornly high, many job openings receive hundreds of applicants.  It would seem that the EEOC is setting up a system whereby almost every applicant that doesn’t get a job can sue for discrimination.

If you didn’t get a job you applied for, are you black?  The employer is a racist.  Are you a woman?  The employer is sexist.  Are you homosexual?  The employer is a homophobe.  Are you a felon?  The employer is racist (since a disproportionate number of felons are black or Hispanic). And now the EEOC is apparently willing to suggest that an employer who screens out applicants lacking high school diplomas is committing discrimination.

In this way, the EEOC remains relevant, and thus justifies its continued funding.  Does discrimination still exists? Sure, but there are state-level employment boards that can handle these matters.  In addition, many programs are set up to help provide work options for the truly disabled: Melwood, Wounded Warriors, The ARC, and Disabled American Veterans.  And schools should be (as many are) equipped to educate and foster learning among disabled students.

The EEOC should revoke this misguided guidance.  This will free employers to hire the most qualified candidates, and reaffirm the importance of high school education.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.