NYC Dept of Ed publishes its list of 50 ‘forbidden words’

posted at 11:00 am on March 31, 2012 by Howard Portnoy

At a time when third grade teachers are assigning math problems that deal with untouchable topics like cannibalism and slavery, what’s a chief school administrator to do? If the chief school administrator is New York City Department of Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott, the logical answer is to (a) overreact, (b) bowdlerize standardized tests so they have been cleansed of “upsetting” words, (c) provide a perverse belly laugh to those who follow and report on the idiocy that has come to typify contemporary American education.

The answer, of course, is (d) all of the above. CBS New York has the story:

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…. ‘Halloween’ is targeted because it suggests paganism; a ‘birthday’ might not be happy to all because it isn’t celebrated by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Is stupid one of the excluded words, or is it permissible for kids to learn about school?

Not everyone is on board with Walcott’s efforts to make “sure that test makers are sensitive in the development of their tests.” Sy Fliegal, spokesman for a watchdog group called the Center for Educational Innovation, counters:

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!’

I would say it depends. Other factors that need to be evaluated is which model of Mercedes it is (are we talking about the small A-class cars or one of the big gas-guzzling sedans?), why the Petersons opted against buying a General Motors vehicle, especially considering that they own a $60 billion stake in the company), where the Petersons are headed on vacation (Las Vegas, as a case in point, is strictly verboten—unless the Petersons are little publicized members of the First Family), and which adult Peterson (assuming there is a Mr. and Mrs.) bought the car (Mrs. Peterson may not feel like a “first-class citizen” unless she is the bread winner in the family).

Here, in any case, is the complete list of words that Walcott believes should be banned. Enjoy.

  • 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)
  • Celebrities
  • Children dealing with serious issues
  • Cigarettes (and other smoking paraphernalia)
  • Computers in the home (acceptable in a school or library setting)
  • Crime
  • Death and disease
  • Divorce
  • Evolution
  • Expensive gifts, vacations, and prizes
  • Gambling involving money
  • Halloween
  • Homelessness
  • Homes with swimming pools
  • Hunting
  • Junk food
  • In-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge
  • Loss of employment
  • Nuclear weapons
  • Occult topics (i.e. fortune-telling)
  • Parapsychology
  • Politics
  • Pornography
  • Poverty
  • Rap Music
  • Religion
  • Religious holidays and festivals (including but not limited to Christmas, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan)
  • Rock-and-Roll music
  • Running away
  • Sex
  • Slavery
  • Terrorism
  • Television and video games (excessive use)
  • Traumatic material (including material that may be particularly upsetting such as animal shelters)
  • Vermin (rats and roaches)
  • Violence
  • War and bloodshed
  • Weapons (guns, knives, etc.)
  • Witchcraft, sorcery, etc.

Incidentally, I notice that one of the words on the list is pornography. The chancellor has offered no explanation for how schools will avoid including this term on standardized tests considering it is part of the middle school curriculum.

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I wish the Department of Ed
or the Department of AP
would publish the list of
50 forbidden words for use
here at Hot Air.

LegendHasIt on March 31, 2012 at 4:07 PM

the party thinks this is doubleplusgood!!!!

Machismo on March 31, 2012 at 4:14 PM

Double plus good!

/sarcasm

Liberals just don’t get it that “1984″ is about them. “Liberalism = Fascism” indeed.

hadsil on March 31, 2012 at 4:30 PM

A young student named Ramy loved baseball, and was a slave to junk food. Every once in a while, fast food — especially fried onions — would give him gas, though it was not a big bodily function problem.

But trying to figure out how batting averages were calculated became a really serious issue with the boy. And he didn’t have a computer at home to look it up. Though he watched war movies and baseball games on TV incessantly, none of the celebrity sportscasters on the tube ever bothered to explain how to figure out averages for the viewers. So Ramy asked for a computer for Christmas.

Unfortunately, his mother’s boss had gambled away the profits from his Rock-and-Roll and Rap Music Store, and right after Halloween she lost her job. Since she was divorced, she could not afford any expensive gifts for young Ramy. He was about to start an “after school” job cleaning kitten cages at the animal shelter, but it hadn’t begun by the time the holidays rolled around.

Meanwhile, his emotionally abused father misunderstood his request, and instead sent him two video games, one having a barely concealed violent porno sex theme called “Nuclear Accident Evolution: Stabber Rat Wrestles Racy Roach,” while the other had a more straight-forward disaster theme entitled, “Mega-Tsunamis: The Next Terror Wave.”

And Ramy couldn’t play them anyway because he didn’t have a computer!

He thought about running away from home over Christmas vacation, but instead Ramy asked his teacher at school to explain averages to him. “I know it must not be like an occult thing, or sorcery,” said the boy. “But I just don’t get the concept.”

His teacher decided to try to help young Ramy to figure it out for himself.

“Suppose a man had 10 cigarettes and four of them got soaking wet. What percentage of them could he light up and smoke immediately — without drying any of them?” he asked the boy.

“Uhhhh . . . six?” said Ramy.

“Well, yes, the number is six, but that is not the correct percent,” said the teacher. “The answer is ‘60’.”

Ramadan looked confused. “But baseball percentages and averages have three numbers,” he said.

“Yes. But that’s before they move the decimal point,” said the teacher.

“What’s a decimal point?” asked young Ramy.

“Let’s try this another way,” said the teacher. “Suppose the convenience store on the corner was robbed at gunpoint, and the gang members stole 20 percent of the merchandise. What percent was left after they escaped?”

“Whoa . . . did they shoot anybody?” asked the boy.

“Uhhhh, I don’t know . . . but let’s maybe try one more,” said the teacher. “Suppose a man found a pint bottle of whisky in the trash, but it only had 8 shots of booze left in it. What percentage would he say was missing?”

“Hey, wait . . . teachers are not supposed to talk about drinking and stuff,” said Ramy. “I suppose next you’ll bring up politics, or maybe hunting! I read all about it on Hot-Air.”

Trochilus on March 31, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Additional words for next year’s Ban Convention:

Responsibility
Independence
Unique
Individual
Free Market
Choice
Option
Thought
Freedom
Constitution
Supreme Court (only if ACA is struck down)
Achieve
Excel
Win
Reward
Ambition
Republican
Conservative

BobMbx on March 31, 2012 at 12:53 PM

Don’t give ‘em any ideas!!M

herm2416 on March 31, 2012 at 5:01 PM

Why Are The People In Charge Of Teaching Our Children So Stupid?

1. They’re not called union “GOONS” for nothing.
2. They’re not “teachers” – they’re “socialist indoctrinators” – and all socialists are mentally handicapped.
3. Pedophilia causes a massive reduction in IQ.
4. Their focus is on maximizing their gold-plated taxpayer-funded benefits and humongous salaries and can’t spend any time or effort to correctly do anything concerning students.
…and on, and on, and on….

Remember the good old saying: Those that can’t “do”, “teach”… (and those that can’t “do” or “teach” become “school administrators”.)…(and those that can’t “do”, “teach” or “administrate” become federal government bureaucrats)…(and those that can’t “do”, “teach”, “administrate” or “bureaucrat” become members of the #occupy (bowel) movement)…

TeaPartyNation on March 31, 2012 at 5:14 PM

I’ve got 50 more words for the Dept of NYC Ed to considers. Send stamped self addressed envelope and sign the disclaimer.

Limerick on March 31, 2012 at 5:37 PM

Limerick on March 31, 2012 at 5:37 PM

Make sure you mail it before Friday

A – Probably no more Saturday Delivery.

B – Union workers usually take 3 day weekends…unless a holiday like Workers for Obama is dues, then its a 4 day.

Another reason to leave New York? Yup.

A GREAT reason to Home School or to send your kid to a Parochial school? Heck, Yeah!

BlaxPac on March 31, 2012 at 5:49 PM

“Hey, wait . . . teachers are not supposed to talk about drinking and stuff,” said Ramy. “I suppose next you’ll bring up politics, or maybe hunting! I read all about it on Hot-Air.”

Trochilus on March 31, 2012 at 4:47 PM

I like your story but you aren’t finished. Did Ramy ever learn how to do percentages?

arnold ziffel on March 31, 2012 at 5:59 PM

Can’t use “jerk”, either. Except when you want to or something. The authorized phraseology is ‘Stop it! You know, you’re being a jerk!’ according to HHS Head Kathleen Sabalius.

http://hotair.com/archives/2012/03/16/sebelius-to-kids-instead-of-calling-each-other-jerks-why-dont-you-call-each-other-jerks/

av8tr on March 31, 2012 at 6:05 PM

Three heavily tattooed Mara Salvatrucha’s each carrying a MAC-10 with three full 30-round magazines of .45 ball, and the rate of fire is 1145 rounds per minute, how long can they fire until they run out of rounds?

coldwarrior on March 31, 2012 at 11:37 AM

Good question, but you’ve left out one important variable. How long does it take them to change magazines?

Siddhartha Vicious on March 31, 2012 at 6:17 PM

Do the kids get assigned a muzzle at the beginning of the class session so they don’t accidentally say the words? Hell, I couldn’t remember all those, that’s a huge list.
Oh I know! I could fill them in with curse words! Yippee!

RadioAngel on March 31, 2012 at 6:18 PM

Othodoxy is unconsciousness.”- New York Department of Education Goal.

profitsbeard on March 31, 2012 at 6:19 PM

Oh I know! I could fill them in with curse words! Yippee!

RadioAngel on March 31, 2012 at 6:18 PM

Is that why almost all public schools have done away with cursive writing? :-)

coldwarrior on March 31, 2012 at 6:32 PM

I just had to post this.

Oldnuke on March 31, 2012 at 7:00 PM

Is that why almost all public schools have done away with cursive writing? :-)

coldwarrior on March 31, 2012 at 6:32 PM

Being an old phart and, as my daughter says, completely out of touch I just found out about this. My grandson, 8yrs old, cannot read or write cursive because it’s not taught in his school. It’s idiotic.

Oldnuke on March 31, 2012 at 7:04 PM

Loss of employment
Nuclear weapons
Occult topics (i.e. fortune-telling)
Parapsychology
Politics
Pornography
Poverty
Rap Music
Religion
Religious holidays and festivals (including but not limited to Christmas, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan)
Rock-and-Roll music
Running away
Sex
Slavery
Terrorism
Television and video games (excessive use)
Traumatic material (including material that may be particularly upsetting such as animal shelters)
Vermin (rats and roaches)
Violence
War and bloodshed
Weapons (guns, knives, etc.)
Witchcraft, sorcery, etc.
Wolcott

DevilsPrinciple on March 31, 2012 at 7:48 PM

I think I can add another werd to this list; EDUCATION. Most of these teechurs can’t spell anyway, so da more da merrier, right?

mike0993 on March 31, 2012 at 8:07 PM

EIGHT YEARS after Diane Ravitch’s book from 2004, The Language Police, they’re still doing this. For a NY exam they used an excerpt from a poem by Matthew Arnold: “Ah, love, let us be true to one another”. But they changed “love” to “friend”!!!!!!!!!

JimC on March 31, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Also see Stan Freberg’s prescient 1957 sketch, “Elderly Man River”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLlTlYfqQV4

JimC on March 31, 2012 at 9:12 PM

NY Times, Almost TEN years ago:

The Elderly Man and the Sea? Test Sanitizes Literary Texts
N. R. Kleinfield. New York Times. (Late Edition (East Coast)). New York, N.Y.: Jun 2, 2002. pg. 1.1
Abstract (Summary)

In a feat of literary sleuth work, Ms. [Jeanne Heifetz], the mother of a high school senior and a weaver from Brooklyn, inspected 10 high school English exams from the past three years and discovered that the vast majority of the passages — drawn from the works of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Anton Chekhov and William Maxwell, among others — had been sanitized of virtually any reference to race, religion, ethnicity, sex, nudity, alcohol, even the mildest profanity and just about anything that might offend someone for some reason. Students had to write essays and answer questions based on these doctored versions — versions that were clearly marked as the work of the widely known authors.

JimC on March 31, 2012 at 9:40 PM

I like your story but you aren’t finished. Did Ramy ever learn how to do percentages?

arnold ziffel on March 31, 2012 at 5:59 PM

Yep. By chance, he won a lottery selection and was enrolled in a Charter School the following fall . . . one that specialized in a good math-oriented curriculum. You might say, he hit the percentages.

Trochilus on March 31, 2012 at 9:58 PM

It think we should have contest to see who can write the best story breaking all 50 rules.

Grand prize could be . . . a trip to NYC!

EdmundBurke247 on March 31, 2012 at 10:35 PM

Yep. By chance, he won a lottery selection and was enrolled in a Charter School the following fall . . . one that specialized in a good math-oriented curriculum. You might say, he hit the percentages.

Trochilus on March 31, 2012 at 9:58 PM

Well done friend. Now I can sleep. :)

arnold ziffel on April 1, 2012 at 1:59 AM

That is not a list of Words in the sense you imply it…Certainly it is a list, and a list the uses words. What is with you? You just following the ’5 things you should know’ trend?

Observation on April 1, 2012 at 7:23 AM

. . .

Certainly it is a list, and a list the uses words.
. . . .

Observation on April 1, 2012 at 7:23 AM

From a critic who accuses,
Comes a sentence that amuses.

Trochilus on April 1, 2012 at 11:51 AM

Comment pages: 1 2