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credit: bouldercolorado.gov

Pretty much anyone paying attention knows about the death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of the Memphis Police. I addressed that case here. 

With the inevitable, ritual involvement/benediction of race-hustling attorney Benjamin Crump, Nichols has passed into holy, social justice martyrdom. Fewer, I’m sure, are aware of the dissolution of the Baltimore public school system. And fewer still understand both are closely related.

How is it possible the beating death of a man by police in Tennessee and the utter failure of 23 schools—actually, pretty much all of them–in Maryland to teach a single student how to do math are related? Simple: both disasters are driven by a woke insistence on eliminating merit. Allow me please, to explain. We begin with this from The New York Post:

At least two out of five Memphis police officers charged with murder in the fatal beatdown of Tyre Nichols joined the force after the department relaxed its hiring requirements.

Tadarrius Bean and Demetrius Haley both joined the Memphis Police Department in Aug. 2020, NBC News reported, more than two years after the department dramatically loosened the education qualifications to become an officer.

Recruits no longer needed an associate’s degree or 54 college credit hours to join the force, and could get by with five years of work experience, Action 5 reported.

Loosening the required qualifications however means that the department is ultimately getting ‘less desirable’ job candidates, Mike Alcazar, an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a retired NYPD detective, told The Post.

‘They’re desperate. They want police officers,’ Alcazar said. ‘They’re going through it, they check off some boxes, saying, ‘Ok, they’re good enough, get them on.’

As one might imagine, those boxes, all too often, have nothing to do with qualities that predict good police officers. In November of 2022, I wrote Police IQ In An Equitable, Meritless Society. 

Therein I explained a trend in policing that actually preceded the 2020 “Summer of Love,” the Ferguson Effect, and the “defund the police” movement, with all of its harassment and hamstringing of the police. The trend: hiring people only just smart enough—actually, below average intelligence—on the theory smart people will tend not to remain in police work very long. That already predictably destructive trend was exacerbated by D/S/Cs turning on the police. Thousands of professional, smarter than average, police officers have left the places most caught up in woke lunacy. Thousands more have left the profession entirely, and those that remain are living the Ferguson Effect on steroids. They do as little as possible, reasonably believing if they actually do their jobs, they face firing, even prosecution. But how does that explain what happened in Memphis, where the police force is short 500 officers?

Normally, police hiring consists of several, distinct steps. Initial applicants, and there used to be hundreds for every open position—no more—took a written test designed to measure bare minimum human competence. Such things as the ability to read and write, bare basic common sense, etc. Those that passed that test with a minimum score were vetted for criminal records. Anyone with a felony was immediately dropped. Many misdemeanors, such as domestic violence or DUI, were also grounds for immediate elimination. In Memphis, they’re apparently taking people with felony convictions, and by all accounts, basic human competence has been seriously defined—dumbed—down.   Minimum educational requirements were also checked, but that too has gone by the wayside in many places. Simultaneous with those background checks, a physical fitness test was administered, again seeking people with the bare basic, job related, physical abilities. Apparently, pretty much all of that has been eliminated in Memphis, which is also the case around the nation.

Those passing that test appeared before a panel of police officers of various ranks for a verbal interview, which gave those officers the opportunity to measure such things as the ability to communicate, intelligence, appearance, the ability to handle minor stress, and to pick up on any odd behaviors or beliefs. Anyone passing all of that would be scheduled for a polygraph exam. Those passing all those trials were put on a hiring list, ranked from most to least desirable. No police executive would want to hire from the last half of that list if they could possibly help it.

Now imagine you’re a police agency in a blue city or state. You’re down 500 officers, which puts horrible stresses on the remaining officers. Your prosecutor won’t prosecute—except cops—and your politicians have the backs of criminals, but absolutely not cops or honest citizens. Where you once had hundreds of applicants for every position, now you don’t have enough to replace everyone missing, and those you have aren’t exactly the cream of the crop. Now imagine your politicians are demanding you hire on the basis of every lunatic woke criteria imaginable, and you begin to get the idea of why something like what happened in Memphis could occur.

So, the new officers show up for duty, and have to go through a state academy, which is going to pass them unless they’re so insane or dangerous…who am I kidding? In places like that, they’re going to pass pretty much anyone, particularly if they’re the right color or gender orientation. Oh, and considerable time is going to be taken from actual instruction for mandatory CRT, anti-racist, gender, and similar woke indoctrination.

Next is in-house training, which would normally include a field-training program, where recruits would daily ride with a rotating group of specially trained, experienced officers who would evaluate them daily, in writing. Normally, unfit people who somehow slipped through the cracks would be identified and weeded out at this point, but they really need bodies on the street, particularly politically correct bodies, so people who would never have made it this far are going to be passed through.

And once upon a time, officers failing to score 70% in periodic firearm qualifications were let go.  That’s 70% in an easy course of fire with as many tries as necessary to reach that score. Care to guess if even that abysmal standard is any longer enforced in much of the nation?

Normally, it takes a recruit about a year before they’re allowed to be on their own in a patrol vehicle. Surely that time and training has been substantially reduced by agencies knowingly accepting substandard people, and desperate to put bodies on the street.

But let’s say those substandard people are now on the street. It’s the job of their shift supervisors—sergeants—to closely watch and evaluate them. It’s also the job of watch commanders—lieutenants—to monitor and evaluate sergeants and the officers below them, and it’s the job of division commanders—captains—to do the same for everyone below them. Of course in big cities, there are additional layers of rank and responsibility. Imagine the supervisors came through the same system that is accepting substandard patrol officers. Oh. That’s not good, is it?

In competent, functional agencies, agencies allowed to equally—never equitably—pro-actively enforce the law, dangerous, incompetent officers are quickly identified, brought up to standards, or fired. So how could what happened in Memphis possibly happen? Reread what you’ve just read and see how easy it is for dangerous people to slip through not the cracks, but the chasms inherent in woke cities and police agencies. A competent investigation would surely show most, if not all, of those officers were known to be unfit, even actually dangerous. All of the other officers who worked with them would know that, and many would have complained to their supervisors, who either ignored those concerns, or weren’t allowed to do anything about them.

But what about teaching? Surely that’s different than law enforcement? Sort of, and not really. Law enforcement was my first career, teaching, my second and last. Let’s visit Legal Insurrection for a bit of background:

Baltimore City’s math scores were the lowest in the state. Just 7 percent of third through eighth graders tested proficient in math, which means 93 percent could not do math at grade level.

But that’s not all; Project Baltimore combed through the scores at all 150 City Schools where the state math test was given.

Project Baltimore found, in 23 Baltimore City schools, there were zero students who tested proficient in math. Not a single student.

Baltimore politicians are blaming Covid lockdowns, but how do they possibly explain a 93% overall failure rate? Let’s see just how similar education and police work actually are.

Teaching positions require a bachelor’s degree, and that requirement hasn’t been, for the most part, weakened. What has changed are woke, rather than ability/competence, criteria for hiring. As in police work, professionals won’t put up with that kind of lunacy, so they leave the profession, or don’t become teachers in the first place. As regular readers know, in much of America, a college degree is no longer proof of much of anything, so the overall teaching talent pool is increasingly shallow.

One applying for a teaching job must also undergo a background check no less rigorous than that for police candidates, or at least that used to be the case. Obviously, much may be overlooked or forgiven is one is the right race, gender, or political orientation. In smaller school districts, a principal and several teachers interview prospective candidates. In larger districts, the process is often more impersonal and mechanistic. Any teacher hired is usually on a three-year probation, during which they are regularly observed and evaluated by a principal or assistant principal.

Just as in police work, the teachers who work with new teachers quickly learn if they are competent, dedicated professionals, or something less. Professional teachers discovering incompetents in their midst pass on their concerns to their principals, who as in police work, may not be disposed to deal with it, or may not be allowed. It is not hard for competent principals to determine the level of intelligence, knowledge, ability, and caring for kids a given teacher has. For incompetent and/or politically motivated principals, it’s another matter entirely.

In many places—again, blue cities/states—all of this is made worse by the presence of omnipotent teacher’s unions. In those places, it’s virtually impossible to fire anyone, and unions work hardest to defend the absolute worst teachers.

It’s simple: incompetent math teachers, people who don’t know their subject and have little or no ability, or interest, in teaching it to children, are easy to identify. When kids are passed from grade to grade and their new teachers discover they know little or nothing, that’s rather hard to cover up, unless the entire system is determined to ignore it. However, if principals are incompetent, or are doing evaluations based on political reliability, all bets are off.

Now imagine a school system that has all of the worst possible attributes: extreme wokeness, general incompetence, a determination to cover asses at all costs, union rule, and incompetent, even criminal politicians, and you begin to get a sense of what’s happening in Baltimore. How is it possible children could fail to learn the bare basics of human competence? That’s how, year, after year, they’re failed. As regular readers know, I’ve pointed out as long as a teacher is meeting minimum professional standards, as long as they’re doing the best their abilities and resources allow to provide educational opportunity, the rest, and any fault for failing to learn, is up to kids and parents. It would seem in Baltimore, the schools aren’t meeting that minimum standard.

Final Thoughts: It all, gentle readers, comes down to a rejection of merit. When any organization fails to hold merit—ability, competence, individual and organizational drive for excellence—as its guiding principle, that organization is going to fail. In police work and teaching, the damage is wide spread and its effects go far beyond the damage done to individuals.

In police work and teaching, racism is involved, but it’s the racism of hiring people known to be deficient, and expecting virtually nothing of them, refusing to hold them to even minimum standards of performance.

I used to joke teaching was identical to police work: everybody lies to you. Circa 2023, it seems many, if not most, of the people we hire to tell us the truth, and to uphold not only the law, but civilizational, American values, is lying to us not by default, but as a matter of policy.