Wednesday, April 4, 2012

50 Forbidden Words in New York Schools

The ban on birthdays is over in the Big Apple.

The New York City Department of Education has decided against going forward with its plan to ban the use of 50 words on standardized school tests, thinking the terms might be offensive to some people.

Among the words on the forbidden list were birthdays, celebrities, cigarettes, crime, divorce, evolution, politics, sex and religion.

The recommendation was originally made last week, and New York Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott told WCBS-TV his department was simply giving guidance to the test developers.

“So we’re not an outlier in being politically correct. This is just making sure that test makers are sensitive in the development of their tests,” Walcott said.

Words suggesting wealth were also excluded because they could make kids jealous.

“Poverty” was also on the forbidden list, and Sy Fliegal with the Center for Educational Innovation told WCBS that was ridiculous.

“The Petersons take a vacation for five days in their Mercedes … so what? You think our kids are going to be offended because they don’t have a Mercedes? You think our kids are going to say ‘I’m offended; how could they ask me a question about a Mercedes? I don’t have a Mercedes!’” Fliegal said.

After an uproar from parents over the proposed ban, the DOE backed down, but the department released a statement saying it would “continue to advise companies to be sensitive to student backgrounds” and “avoid unnecessary distractions that could invalidate test scores.”

The words on the original forbidden list include:

Abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological)
Alcohol (beer and liquor), tobacco, or drugs
Birthday celebrations (and birthdays)
Bodily functions
Cancer (and other diseases)
Catastrophes/disasters (tsunamis and hurricanes)
Children dealing with serious issues
Cigarettes (and other smoking paraphernalia)
Computers in the home (acceptable in a school or library setting)
Death and disease
Expensive gifts, vacations, and prizes
Gambling involving money
Homes with swimming pools
Junk food
In-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge
Loss of employment
Nuclear weapons
Occult topics (i.e. fortune-telling)
Rap Music
Religious holidays and festivals (including but not limited to Christmas, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan)
Rock-and-Roll music
Running away
Television and video games (excessive use)
Traumatic material (including material that may be particularly upsetting such as animal shelters)
Vermin (rats and roaches)
War and bloodshed
Weapons (guns, knives, etc.)
Witchcraft, sorcery, etc.

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