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Author Topic: NYC Dept. Of Education Wants 50 ‘Forbidden’ Words Banned  (Read 1798 times)
dead0man
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« on: March 29, 2012, 01:07:44 am »
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Fearing that certain words and topics can make students feel unpleasant, officials are requesting 50 or so words be removed from city-issued tests.

The word “dinosaur” made the hit list because dinosaurs suggest evolution which creationists might not like, WCBS 880′s Marla Diamond reported. “Halloween” is targeted because it suggests paganism; a “birthday” might not be happy to all because it isn’t celebrated by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Julie Lewis’ family celebrates Christmas and Kwanzaa, but she told CBS 2′s Emily Smith she wants her children to appreciate and learn about other holidays and celebrations.

“They’re going to meet people from all walks of life and they’re going to have to learn to adjust,” Lewis said.

Words that suggest wealth are excluded because they could make kids jealous. “Poverty” is also on the forbidden list. That’s something Sy Fliegal with the Center for Educational Innovation calls 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.

In a throwback to “Footloose,” the word “dancing” is also taboo. However, there is good news for kids that like “ballet”: The city made an exception for this form of dance.

Also banned are references to “divorce” and “disease,” because kids taking the tests may have relatives who split from spouses or are ill.

<snip>
NYC Department of Education.....between this and $65million a year "rubber room" (which is also an offensive phrase) fiasco, the ridiculously overpowered teachers unions and I'm sure a million other horrible stories we probably don't know about....how do they manage to teach anything?
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Nagas
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« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2012, 01:09:10 am »
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Censorship is bad, mmmk.
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Хahar
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« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2012, 01:35:33 am »
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It certainly makes sense that tests should be designed to be accessible to everyone.
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dead0man
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« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2012, 01:39:26 am »
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How does the word "dancing" make a test inaccessible?
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« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2012, 01:53:39 am »
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Few if any of these words make a test 'inaccessible'. I can see arguments for things that involve specific religions but 'Halloween'? 'Dinosaur'? These are some of the most generic cultural terms imaginable.
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« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2012, 01:55:27 am »
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Birthday? Fail.
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R2D2
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« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2012, 05:25:49 am »
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This is the most idiotic thing I've seen in a long time.
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Pingvin
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« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2012, 07:44:40 am »
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This is the most idiotic thing I've seen in a long time.
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Pingvin
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« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2012, 07:45:32 am »
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It certainly makes sense that tests should be designed to be accessible to everyone.
It makes sense that tests should be designed for majority and minority should accept it.
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« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2012, 07:51:24 am »
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Between this and the "Friends don't let friends use pink bowling balls" I'm starting to wonder if April 1 came a few days early this year.

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« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2012, 07:57:39 am »
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It certainly makes sense that tests should be designed to be accessible to everyone.
It makes sense that tests should be designed for majority and minority should accept it.

What majority? There are different interlocking 'majorities' and 'minorities' in any situation, ever.

Also, no that doesn't make sense.

Also, that doesn't make this particular case any less absurd.
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« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2012, 09:06:38 am »
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These words are already banned from big standardized tests like the ACT and SAT. The NYC proposal is only about testing.
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dead0man
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« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2012, 09:13:43 am »
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These words are already banned from big standardized tests like the ACT and SAT.
cite?  Google is giving me nothing except new standards to combat cheating links...and my Google Fu is normally pretty strong.
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« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2012, 10:13:23 am »
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This is the most idiotic thing I've seen in a long time.

Agreed, though I reckon to some extent it would make sense to diversify test questions as part of a larger effort to foster a learning environment in which minority groups are included, not marginalized.
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shua
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« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2012, 10:26:04 am »
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The word "dinosaur" does not suggest evolution.  As most things like this, they didn't talk to people from the groups that they thought might be offended.  Not mentioning divorce is probably sensible.
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Insula Dei
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« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2012, 10:31:27 am »
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The word "dinosaur" does not suggest evolution.  As most things like this, they didn't talk to people from the groups that they thought might be offended.  Not mentioning divorce is probably sensible.

You're a creationist?
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shua
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« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2012, 10:54:36 am »
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The word "dinosaur" does not suggest evolution.  As most things like this, they didn't talk to people from the groups that they thought might be offended.  Not mentioning divorce is probably sensible.

You're a creationist?
Not in the conventional sense, though I was exposed to it growing up.  The point is, no creationist I ever met or read said that dinosaurs didn't exist or anything of the sort.
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dead0man
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« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2012, 11:11:20 am »
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The word "dinosaur" does not suggest evolution.  As most things like this, they didn't talk to people from the groups that they thought might be offended.  Not mentioning divorce is probably sensible.
How is "divorce" bad or offensive.  Do children of divorce need to avoid the word?  I can understand keeping honestly offensive words out of standardized tests (3 Heebs walk into a deli with $5.45 between them...), but words that are in our common lexicon shouldn't be avoided because it might make some kid somewhere remember that his parents got divorced last year.
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« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2012, 11:29:05 am »
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The word "dinosaur" does not suggest evolution.  As most things like this, they didn't talk to people from the groups that they thought might be offended.  Not mentioning divorce is probably sensible.
How is "divorce" bad or offensive.  Do children of divorce need to avoid the word?  I can understand keeping honestly offensive words out of standardized tests (3 Heebs walk into a deli with $5.45 between them...), but words that are in our common lexicon shouldn't be avoided because it might make some kid somewhere remember that his parents got divorced last year.
Whether something is in the common lexicon is hardly the issue.  Standardized measurement is a pipedream anyway, but making emotionally distracting questions can't exactly help.
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« Reply #19 on: March 29, 2012, 12:55:50 pm »
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I wonder exactly how they think taking the word "evolution" out of standardized biology tests will be helpful.
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« Reply #20 on: March 29, 2012, 02:09:01 pm »
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Also, how would a health class do without mentioning alcohol or drugs? A US History class without nukes?
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« Reply #21 on: March 29, 2012, 03:39:48 pm »

As someone who used to work for the text book industry, these banned word lists are much more common than you'd think. Though, of course, this list is unusually oppressive.

Want to hear how stupid it gets some time? A number of state standards call for students to learn probability so they can understand how to avoid unfair games of chance. But for some reason, you're not allowed to use games of chance while teaching students about probability, and in many cases, you can't even reference dice or playing cards.

Also, how would a health class do without mentioning alcohol or drugs? A US History class without nukes?

These topics are off limits for standardized tests, not general discussion.
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« Reply #22 on: March 29, 2012, 03:52:26 pm »
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Also, how would a health class do without mentioning alcohol or drugs? A US History class without nukes?

An algebra class without x's and y's?
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Bacon King
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« Reply #23 on: March 29, 2012, 04:04:04 pm »
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While they obviously erred on the side of caution, I understand the reasoning here and don't think this is as outrageous as it first appears. Any word that has a realistic potential of causing a negative emotional response in a child can cause them to perform below their true ability, thus impacting their results and causing them to score lower than they would have. A little girl that just broke her legs would probably be distraught when remembering her new limitations after reading a test passage about dancing, for example, and a negative emotional state like that has been linked in a number of studies to poorer performance on standardized tests. They're simply going to these lengths here to ensure that the tests truly are fair and standardized for all students; I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

Want to hear how stupid it gets some time? A number of state standards call for students to learn probability so they can understand how to avoid unfair games of chance. But for some reason, you're not allowed to use games of chance while teaching students about probability, and in many cases, you can't even reference dice or playing cards.

Oh yes! I remember how much fun we had with our number cubes (which totally weren't dice) in middle school math!
« Last Edit: March 29, 2012, 04:06:40 pm by Bacon King »Logged

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« Reply #24 on: March 29, 2012, 06:28:25 pm »
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I'm confused about "dinosaur." As far as I know, even among the most hardcore creationists, there aren't many people who outright deny that dinosaurs are a thing.
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