Friday, April 26, 2013

Florida Violates Civil Rights

A law recently passed in Florida makes those seeking unemployment benefits required to pass a test that measures their reading and math ability. In a state with a large latino population, where English may not be one's first language, requiring a reading test to collect unemployment benefits is oddly reminiscent of literacy tests. Requiring people to take a test to vote, and requiring people to take a test to receive unemployment benefits aren’t really so different when there are people who aren’t equipped with the skills to pass the tests.
Worse, the people who do not pass the test because of poor literacy skills receive no unemployment benefits, and are left with no options. The state does not offer options to help those who are not literate to learn better English, they simply write them off. While Florida claims that this prevents the state’s taxpayers from paying for burdensome benefits for people who will never be employable, it creates a large population of people living in poverty who will be facing homelessness and most likely be forced to participate in the informal economy to get by.

"Requiring jobless Floridians to take a skill assessment test is the right thing to do, not just for them, but also to ensure Florida’s tax dollars are spent on making sure our workforce is the most qualified in the nation."

Additionally, the test must be taken online. Many of the unemployed do not have access to a computer or internet. Additionally, those who are unemployed and also a minority statistically are less likely to have access to a friend or family member with a computer, but are more likely to take advantage of publicly accessible computers such as those in libraries. This policy is an infringement on civil rights because it targets a specific group of people, but does nothing to help them. Denying people access to benefits, without offering them any help, is unethical. Denying benefits that are guaranteed to every citizen unless they can pass a test (which they may be unable to do because of a failing of publicly funded school systems. Florida has the 45th lowest graduation rate, by the way.) is an infringement of civil rights.
Remember, if you live in Florida and you can’t find a job, you better be able to read and do simple math.


  1. This also sounds like a Civil Rights violation to me. I am not 100% familiar with Civil Rights laws, but this just does not sound acceptable. I can understand not wanting people who will never be employed to take advantage of the system. However, what I don’t understand is why the state of Florida will not help those who wish to become employed pass this test. I believe that the test should also be more readily available to the community. Making it necessary for the test to be taken online and not providing computers in order to do so, does not give everyone applying for unemployment an equal opportunity. Simple English and math courses should be available for those wishing to pass this test, and computers should be made available in order for this test to be taken.

  2. Take a test? To receive unemployment benefits? You have to be kidding me. The first thing that came to mind when thinking about taking a test to be able to recieve benefits was the literacy tests that were involved in allowing people to vote. How in the world can you make someone take a test? These people are suffering and are desparately in need. Do people really want to see them suffer more? The system is continuously attempting to break citizens down in order to keep others up. If anything, we need to provide educational opportunities for these people who are on unemployment benefits as a means of receiving more benefits or a greater opportunity to get a better job and employment. Stop the madness Florida.

  3. This is outrageous. This definitely reminds me of the notorious, gold-ole literacy tests. They are ridiculous. This is a clear violation of people's rights. First of all, the fact they are conducting these tests is clearly unethical. It is clearly directed at a certain group of people... a.k.a. racial profiling (which is illegal might I add). Secondly, why would the conduct these tests and then not help the ones who fail? This is completely ridiculous and just shows how far we still have to go. It puts a lot of things into perspective.