After getting much static, New York City school officials have shelved the idea (reported here on March 29) of banning “sensitive” words such as birthdays, dinosaurs, poverty, dancing, terrorism and Halloween, applauds Grumpy Editor.
Also targeted to be scrubbed were references to “creatures from outer space,” divorces, diseases, celebrities, and homes with swimming pools and computers.
The unmentionables, among 50 words and terms frowned on, were disclosed in a request for proposals to companies competing in providing various tests designed to measure student progress.
The N.Y. Education Department document pointed out the subjects were listed because they “could evoke unpleasant emotions in the students.”
The nutty action was revealed late last month by Yoav Gonen, New York Post education reporter, who called it “a bizarre case of political correctness.”
At that time, an Education Department spokeswoman, insisting the routine is not censorship, declared, “This is standard language that has been used by test publishers for many years and allows our students to complete practice exams without distraction.”
This week, Shael Polakow-Suransky, the New York City’s chief academic officer, said:
“After reconsidering our message to test publishers and the reaction from parents, we will revise our guidance and eliminate the list of words to avoid on tests.
“We will continue to advise companies to be sensitive to student backgrounds and avoid unnecessary distractions that could invalidate test scores and give an inaccurate assessment of how students are doing.”