Political correctness or political insanity? New York City schools ban words, topics from tests

By End the Lie

(Image credit: biologycorner/Flickr)

If anyone needed a single case to point to in order to show that political correctness has gone completely insane here in the United States, this is it. With the rise of such practices, we also see the growth of the “nanny state” which seeks to control every aspect of our lives.

The New York City Department of Education has banned several words in an attempt to be as politically correct as possible, although I see it as pure imbecilic nonsense.

There are some 50 words which are officially banned from being used on tests given to students by the city, the banning of which is outright absurd.

Some of the more insane choices are: dinosaur, birthdays, wealth, poverty, Halloween, dancing, terrorism, divorce, references to disease, slavery, creatures from outer space, and many more.

In fact, it is not just these words that are banned, but indeed the entire topic cannot be included on any tests administered by the city.

This is supposedly because such references “could evoke unpleasant emotions in the students,” according to the New York Post.

These subjects were outlined in a request for proposals which was given to companies who compete to create standardized tests for English, math, science and other subjects which are administered multiple times per year.

Dinosaurs are banned because they supposedly might offend people who do not believe in evolution, yet this makes little to no sense given that even the most fundamentalist creationists seem to realize that there were, indeed dinosaurs.

Even the so-called “Creation Museum” in Petersburg, Kentucky includes a dinosaur exhibit called the “Dinosaur Den.”

The only people who refuse to recognize that dinosaurs existed are likely delusional or potentially insane. If the people behind the Creation Museum can agree that dinosaurs existed, as they actually have “a number of real fossilized dinosaur eggs, a Hadrosaur tibia, [and a] Triceratops skeleton casting,” on display, who out there refuses to acknowledge their existence?

Words suggesting either wealth or poverty are banned because they could supposedly make children feel jealous or saddened. I guess the New York City Department of Education believes that if you pretend it doesn’t exist, it simply doesn’t exist.

Seems to me that the Department of Education has a great deal in common with ostriches and babies under 7-9 months who have yet to develop object permanence, according to Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development.

This head-in-the-sand approach is also applied to divorces and diseases, since students might have divorced parents or might be sick in one way or another.

I guess they believe that if students don’t read the word “divorce” or anything to do with it, they’ll simply forget that their parents are divorced.

That makes about as much sense as thinking that if no one says “cancer” or “disease” suddenly no one in the world will have cancer.

However, the Department of Education insists that this is not censorship and that this is a completely routine, typical practice

Unfortunately, our government has proven time and time again that they’re not the most competent individuals when it comes to logic and critical thinking.

“Some of these topics may be perfectly acceptable in other contexts but do not belong in a city- or state-wide assessment,” the request said.

Unfortunately, New York City is not alone and such “sensitivity guidelines” have actually been published by a group of states. They said that tests should not mention group dancing, various luxuries, junk food, homelessness and even witches.

“This is standard language that has been used by test publishers for many years and allows our students to complete practice exams without distraction,” a Department of Education spokesperson said, as reported by the Post.

However, this fails to address the fact that New York City’s list is almost twice the length of those produced by others and has even fewer exceptions.

It is my humble opinion that censoring any topic from a standardized test (within reason, of course, as explicitly violent or erotic material obviously has no place on a school test) is nothing short of absurd and represents some of the more troubling ways the American “nanny state” has reared its ugly head.

According to the list, tests cannot mention homes with swimming pools and computers or anything which could be construed as potentially “disrespectful to authority or authority figures.”

Even more insane, they are not allowed to personify animals or inanimate objects, which makes even less sense than most of the items.

According to officials, this is not necessary an absolute ban, as some items can be included on exams but only on a case-by-case basis.

“The intent is to avoid giving offense or disadvantage any test takers by privileging prior knowledge,” Robert Pondiscio, a spokesman for the Core Knowledge Foundation, said to the Post.

“But the irony is they’re eliminating some subjects, like junk food, holidays and popular music, that the broadest number of kids are likely to know quite a lot about,” he added.

“If the goal is to assess higher-order thinking skills, controversial topics, for example, ones that are the subject of political debate, are exactly what students should be reasoning about,” Deanna Kuhn, a professor at the Teachers College at Columbia University, aptly pointed out, according to the Post.

One of the most common justifications for these nonsensical practices is that they are attempting to avoid offending people of certain religious beliefs.

Birthdays are banned since Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate them, witches and Halloween are banned since they could be interpreted as pagan, and terrorism is banned because it might be scary.

If you’re absolutely astounded by these choices, you’re not alone. I honestly can’t even believe that such a thing is true, but I guess it goes to show just how far our country has gone down the rabbit hole of political correctness and the freedom-crushing nanny state.

I’d love to hear your opinion, take a look at your story tips, and even your original writing if you would like to get it published. Please email me at [email protected]

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One Response to Political correctness or political insanity? New York City schools ban words, topics from tests

  1. WTH March 28, 2012 at 8:29 PM

    This will never work… why? Because “You can make some of the people happy all the time, all of the people happy some of the time but you can’t make all of the people happy all of the time.”… so I would have to go with “political insanity.”

    Reply

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