It is apparently quite common for school districts to request that standardized tests not include certain words that students might find offensive. But New York City's list of some 50 banned test topics is twice as long as national sensitivity lists, and stands out as "a bizarre case of political correctness run wild," says Yoav Gonen in the New York Post. NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott disagrees, telling CBS that the city Department of Education is "not an outlier in being politically correct" — it's just dealing with a more diverse student body. But most experts — not to mention students, educators, and parents — seem to be on the PC-run-amok side. Here, a look at 11 of the blacklisted topics, and why they might have been deemed problematic:
Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate birthdays
Some students don't believe in evolution
4. Religious holidays and festivals
Could offend students who don't celebrate one or more of the holidays
5. TV, celebrities, and video games
To "avoid giving offense or disadvantage any test takers by privileging prior knowledge" like pop culture, Robert Pondiscio at the Core Knowledge Foundation tells the New York Post.
6. Computers in the home
Not all students have computers at home
7. Homes with swimming pools
Words that suggest wealth could make lower-income students jealous
8. Homelessness, poverty, and loss of employment
Words that suggest hardship "could evoke unpleasant emotions in students"
9. Dancing (except ballet, which is alright)
Too scary for some students
11. "Creatures from outer space"
Perhaps the school district read about the Washington, D.C., teacher fired this month for a math test featuring, among other stomach-turners, "bloodthirsty aliens" who "sucked the blood of 828 teachers and left them for dead," then "tied up the rest of the teachers and marched them into 3 UFOs."
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