Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Kicking A Gift Horse In The Mouth?
Congressman Towns and Congressman Weiner Fight for Equitable Bar Exam Conditions for Jewish ExamineesI have mixed feelings on this. On one hand, I really, really,really,really,really, want to use my laptop on the Bar exam. I have terrible handwriting, and I'm pretty sure my hand is going to fall off after six hours of essay writing. I'm also nervous about anonymity - I'm guessing the vast majority of people are going to type their exams, so almost everyone writing is going to be Jewish. I'd rather the that the guy grading my exam not know my religion.
Entire New York Delegation Demands Parity
Brooklyn, NY - Congressman Edolphus "Ed" Towns and Congressman Anthony D. Weiner announced today an effort by the entire New York congressional delegation to ensure that observant Jews are able to take the New York bar exam under equitable conditions. The New York bar exam is scheduled for July 25, 2007, the same date as Tisha B'Av, one of the most solemn days on the Jewish calendar.
Although the New York State Board of Law Examiners is offering the exam on July 26, 2007 for examinees observing Tisha B'Av, examinees on that date are not allowed to take the exam on their laptop computers. Congressman Towns and Congressman Weiner have jointly written a letter to the Board of Law Examiners requesting the board to allow observant examinees to write the exam on their laptop computers. This letter has been signed by the entire New York congressional delegation.
"We commend [the] efforts [of the Board of Law Examiners] to ensure that Jewish examinees are able to take the bar exam on an alternate date. We are concerned, however, that the facility arranged for the alternate date by the New York State Board of Law Examiners is inadequate in so far as it will preclude the use of laptop computers, placing the examinees, who must hand write their exams, at a significant competitive disadvantage. We urge you to reconsider these arrangements. Observant Jewish examinees should not be penalized or placed at a disadvantage for adhering to their religious beliefs," the letter stated.
"I also recognize the continued leadership of New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on this issue. Speaker Silver has fought hard in the past to ensure that all people have equal access to standardized tests and is currently working with the Board of Law Examiners on this issue. His successful efforts to rectify this inequality has allowed Jewish examinees to take the bar without sacrificing their faith, as this is not the first time the bar exam conflicts with Tisha B'Av. Most recently, Speaker Silver translated is advocacy into legislation by amending New York State's current religious protection "Equal Access" law to include professional exams, including bar examinees," said Congressman Towns.
"The bar exam is the most important test in the life of future lawyers. I am optimistic that the Board of Law Examiners will remove this obstacle in the path of all of New York's observant examinees," concluded Congressman Towns.
"Making our future lawyers choose between their religion and the bar exam is wrong," said Rep. Weiner. "These students will also be at serious disadvantage without their laptops, and I hope the Board does the right thing and gives them the same playing field as their colleagues."
But on the other hand, I'm not entirely comfortable with Jews kvetching all the time when our religion gets in our way. The Bar is being nice enough to allow us to take the exam on a different day, and they probably tried to accommodate laptops but couldn't. Why do we have to make a big stink about? Maybe I have a bit of a ghetto mentality.
For that matter, why are the Bar Examiners so tied to Tisha B'Av in the first place? Is there a reason that they can't simply hold the exam (for everyone) the following week?? Why all the effort to make special accomodations for Jews? Simply move the exam!
New York can't just "move" the exam. The multistate portion of the bar exam is always given in every state on the last Wednesday in July. So the NY portion has to be the day before or after, and they have to coordinate with New Jersey as well, so that they don't overlap.