Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Do these educrats even know any children?

This is what excessive political sensitivity has led to.
n a bizarre case of political correctness run wild, educrats have banned references to “dinosaurs,” “birthdays,” “Halloween” and dozens of other topics on city-issued tests.

That’s because they fear such topics “could evoke unpleasant emotions in the students.”

Dinosaurs, for example, call to mind evolution, which might upset fundamentalists; birthdays aren’t celebrated by Jehovah’s Witnesses; and Halloween suggests paganism.

Even “dancing’’ is taboo, because some sects object. But the city did make an exception for ballet.

The forbidden topics were recently spelled out in a request for proposals provided to companies competing to revamp city English, math, science and social-studies tests given several times a year to measure student progress.

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

Words that suggest wealth are excluded because they could make kids jealous. Poverty is likewise on the forbidden list.

Also banned are references to divorces and diseases, because kids taking the tests may have relatives who split from spouses or are ill.

Officials say such exclusions are normal procedure.

“This is standard language that has been used by test publishers for many years and allows our students to complete practice exams without distraction,” said a Department of Education spokeswoman, insisting it’s not censorship.

In fact, sensitivity guidelines recently published by a group of states creating new high-stakes exams also caution against mentioning luxuries, group dancing, junk food, homelessness or witches.

Yet a comparison shows the city’s list, at 50 topics, is nearly twice as long and has fewer exceptions.

The city asks test companies to exclude “creatures from outer space,” celebrities and excessive TV and video-game use — items that are OK elsewhere.

Homes with swimming pools and computers are also unmentionables here — because of economic sensitivities — while computers in the school or in libraries are acceptable.

City officials also specified that test makers shouldn’t include items that are potentially “disrespectful to authority or authority figures,” or give human characteristics to animals or inanimate objects.

Terrorism is deemed too scary. Slavery is also on the forbidden list.
It sounds like only the dullest and most anodyne subjects are allowed. "See Sally run" perhaps?

Is there any evidence at all that a story about a birthday would make a Jehovah's Witness child do less well than any other reading? What about junk food or swimming pools? Aren't they just allowing students who do poorly to search for crutches to explain away their poor skills?


Miss Sharp said...

See Sally run?

But what about the physically disadvantaged? Ever heard of a wheelchair?

OMG, how could you even think about suggesting "See Sally run"? O_o

John A said...

"Aren't they just allowing students who do poorly to search for crutches to explain away their poor skills?"

I think they are trying to forestall parents bringing lawsuits.

There may actually be a bit of rationale here. Years (decades, in fact) ago, there was an uproar about a question, I think on the SAT, about what goes with a cup - plate or saucer. Problem being, not every household uses cup-and-saucer: I for one have never bought that combination, I always use a mug. Nor have I heard of a school offering them to students (albeit perhaps faculty).

NotAlwaysRight said...

I can see in the not too distant future that some educator will actually advocate killing all children at birth so as to save them from the unpleasantness of life!

The Gold Digger said...

I have to agree with John that sometimes there is merit to being careful about what goes on the tests. When I took the GMAT, there was a logic question about six people riding in two canoes with all kinds of conditions. One of the conditions was that Bob couldn't work with women. I wasted way too much time thinking about why he couldn't and why that should matter. My own fault, I know, but still. It was a distraction.

More related to what John said was the example in my Econ 102 textbook about taxi medallions (for a supply and demand problem).

I had never ridden in a taxi in my life. I had no idea what a taxi medallion was or why it would matter.

The textbook writers just assumed that everyone knew what life was like in New York.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

They want only words with no emotional associations whatsoever. Even if such a thing were possible, would it be wise? Is it not part of education to teach children to still the mind of its emotional distractions at times, in order to apply reasoning? Not that we should seek to destabilise them intentionally, but shouldn't we simply accpt that a certain amount of emotional noise goes with real life?

Danny Haszard said...

Jehovah's Witnesses reject Birthdays all holidays,Thanksgiving even benign Mother's day.
The Watchtower leaders want to be 'different' for the sake of being different.Jehovah's Witnesses are a dysfunctional group from the get-go .
Christmas-Jesus was not born on exactly Dec 25th,but he also did not have his *invisible* second coming in the month of October 1914,a falsehood that is the core doctrine of the Watchtower religion.
*tell the truth don't be afraid*--Danny Haszard