Green Room

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

posted at 1:15 pm on March 30, 2012 by

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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Comments

I don’t have any words to express how I feel about this. Dumbfounded isn’t strong enough.

rbj on March 30, 2012 at 2:50 PM

That list of words basically covers every single thing you can possibly talk about or perceive within the city limits of New York.

If those words are forbidden, then the entire school will essentially have to remain mute all day every day.

Zombie on March 30, 2012 at 2:55 PM

On the upside, no longer will math questions be phrased like

“If the cruel white slavemaster whipped female slaves twice as often as he whipped male slaves, what percentage of reparations should be paid to the proud 21st century African-American black goddess?”

Zombie on March 30, 2012 at 3:02 PM

I don’t have any words to express how I feel about this. Dumbfounded isn’t strong enough.

rbj on March 30, 2012 at 2:50 PM

Oh, I have the words, but they aren’t printable here.

sage0925 on March 30, 2012 at 3:15 PM

but it’s ok to have students dig dirt on GOP candidates but not king barry and his court?

considering It’s court is made up of criminal vermin i’d say that’s in violation.

mittens on March 30, 2012 at 3:24 PM

I’m offended by overpriced stupidity and that in a nutshell, is our public school system.

NoDonkey on March 30, 2012 at 3:28 PM

George Carlin must be turning over in his grave.

Steven Den Beste on March 30, 2012 at 3:32 PM

George Carlin must be turning over laughing himself into stitches in his grave.

FIFY

Howard Portnoy on March 30, 2012 at 3:39 PM

As I stated on another post, methinks I’m going to print out this list, so’s I have something to laugh at while I type posts. I don’t think I have too many that would be acceptable to this freaking bozo.

sage0925 on March 30, 2012 at 3:52 PM

Like the word fart would ever appear on a middle school test, much less the words urine, defecate, bowl movement, feces, you get the idea.

GeorgiaBuckeye on March 30, 2012 at 4:05 PM

So then what’s the point of educating them?

stukinIL4now on March 30, 2012 at 4:12 PM

Sex

So NY teachers can’t mention the word sex, yet this is in their curriculum:

* High-school students go to stores and jot down condom brands, prices and features such as lubrication.

* Teens research a route from school to a clinic that provides birth control and STD tests, and write down its confidentiality policy.

* Kids ages 11 and 12 sort “risk cards” to rate the safety of various activities, including “intercourse using a condom and an oil-based lubricant,’’ mutual masturbation, French kissing, oral sex and anal sex.

WeekendAtBernankes on March 30, 2012 at 5:54 PM

No wonder they don’t learn the 3 Rs anymore, cuz they don’t have the time to teach them anymore. Does this list seem like it might violate the 1st amendment?

Kissmygrits on March 30, 2012 at 6:35 PM

George Carlin must be turning over in his grave.

Steven Den Beste on March 30, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Carlin was a bitter old grouch, but he was right more often than not. Too bad we can’t hear his opinion on this idiocy…even if it would have to be rated R for ear-wilting language.

White-bread private religious schools don’t have “forbidden words” lists that are this stupid. How the NYC managed to approve this nonsense is utterly beyond my comprehension.

MelonCollie on March 30, 2012 at 7:36 PM

Well Howard

I suspect that you are going to get out of the Green Room on this one.

But it all kind of makes sense (e.g. in the US left world of “no-losers” in sports). We must protect the children because they are our future.

I’ve cut back on the cigs but now think I’ll step up to a carton/day so that I don’t have to witness our future.

teejk on March 30, 2012 at 8:44 PM

Everything I`m currently typing could hurt or make someone uncomfotable. :-P

ThePrez on March 30, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Sex

Double-plus ungood.

pedestrian on March 30, 2012 at 9:26 PM

What about the word Fired.

squint on March 31, 2012 at 1:40 AM

What about the word Fired.

squint on March 31, 2012 at 1:40 AM

Well played sir.

WeekendAtBernankes on March 31, 2012 at 1:58 AM

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 7:17 AM

This post has been promoted to HotAir.com.

Comments have been closed on this post but the discussion continues here.

Jazz Shaw on March 31, 2012 at 12:54 PM

So why wasn’t liberalism included on this list?

chewmeister on March 31, 2012 at 8:57 PM