Saturday, April 7, 2012

New York Update

Earlier this week,  NYC Department of Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced that henceforth there will be 50 words and concepts that would no longer be allowed on the many standardized assessment tests created by NYC's vast network of standardized assessment test creators. The Committee-That-Knows-Better-Than-You put their collective heads together to created this list because they fear that some student could be so traumatized at the very thought of the concept of "children dealing with serious issues" that they will not be able to perform at their best. They decided that this is the reason for the steep decline in test scores over the last few years. Of course, not learning how to read, write a simple sentence, and to do simple arithmetic may be more traumatizing when faced with a standardized test, but hey that's just me. Some of the forbidden words are predictable, but some are just baffling. Here is the full list:


***WARNING: SOME OF THESE WORDS AND/OR CONCEPTS MAY BE TRAUMATIZING***
FORBIDDEN WORD/CONCEPT LIST
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.

My sample question: If traveling (oops, don't use traveling because some kids may not have the means to travel) for 40 miles (what about those kids who only understand the metric system?) going East (oops, what if they live on the East Coast less than 40 miles from open water?) at 40 miles an hour (oops there's that metric issue again) how long will it take you to get to get to your destination in the astral plane (oops, no parapsychology references allowed) ?


It must be frustrating for any test writers. I mean, yeah, before you couldn't write questions based on pornographic images or with those seven words you couldn't say on television, but now you can't write questions based on "parapsychology".  I mean what is up with that?  It's interesting that the one word they do not use is "ban". These words are not "banned", they are just "forbidden". "Banning" is bad, "forbidding" is just fine if done by the most liberal school system in the country. Okay, in all fairness, Chancellor Walcott backed off the "forbid" to a much softer "suggest" four days later, but the list went out and the damage was done.

Next week: Foods and donations that are now banned...er forbidden...er suggested strongly that one not use or do.

51 comments:

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Check your e-mail...

BevfromNYC said...

Sorry for the disappearing act. Blogger and I have been fighting all afternoon. We have patched things up and have come to an understanding. Please forgive any formatting issues.

LawHawkRFD said...

Are they absolutely nuts?

AndrewPrice said...

We should do a contest and try to build sentences using mainly these words, such as:

"Witchcraft pornography and celebrity cancer cause homelessness."

BevfromNYC said...

Actually LawHawk, YES THEY ARE! It's just nuts to think that supposedly intelligent people sat in a room and discussed how traumatic putting questions that include references to "homes with swimming pools" would be! Not to mention that they actually had to put "pornography" on the list at all! I mean, what questions were they going to use that reference pornography anyway?? What are they trying to assess on these test, anyway?

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew, that's a great idea! But you may have hit on the perfect combination.

BevfromNYC said...

If a prostitute offers you $10 every day for seven day to perform a pornographic act, how much will it effect your immortal soul?

Please show your work on the separate page provided.

Kelly said...

Gambling involving bodily functions can lead to disasters, so cigarettes and sports which require prior knowledge are better topics for birthday parties and politics.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I hear "witchcraft porn" is the next big thing, along with pagan action heroes and Pope-centric romances!


Here's another:

Children dealing with nuclear weapons causes alcohol abuse and run away bodily functions.

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew, I had heard that! But it's also the the Pope-centric romances that lead to Halloween or possibly nuclear weapons which leads to children having to deal with serious issues like junk food (if you live in NYC) OR the occult (it is hard to predict).

T-Rav said...

Behold the modern education system, in which nothing is wrong, except being mean to someone else.

BevfromNYC said...

I am thinking that questions on the half life of Twinkies or nuclear weapons are probably off the table.

AndrewPrice said...

Isn't that enough T-Rav? Isn't it?

After all, you don't want to stifle kids.

ellenB said...

Our schools are a mess. They should fire everyone who currently has any administrative function and start over without any of them.

ellenB said...

Also, Happy Easter and Happy Passover everyone!

BevfromNYC said...

Thanks ellenB - the same to you!

Our schools are a mess and what is really mind boggling is that instead of worrying about how to teach our kids to read, write and do 'rithmetic, they are making lists of "forbidden" traumatizing words like "Halloween"!

ellenB said...

Bev, It's an old trick: when you don't have the answer, change the question.

ScyFyterry said...

Happy Easter to each of you as well, and Passover and whatever else it may be. :D


Bev, If you take this list literally, there is nothing left anyone can talk about?

BevfromNYC said...

Yes, United Citizens Council, you are correct. This is the very same. All children should know all the "age appropriate" details about sexual orientation and condoms, and yet are too delicate to handle "houses with pools"! If it weren't so ridiculous, it would be still be ridiculous.

BevfromNYC said...

But ellenB, how can they not know how to teach kids to read and write? How did they teach us?

T-Rav said...

I have a sneaking feeling this list was prepared by The Management. If you ban shooting animals in the face, what won't you ban?

The Management said...

Everything is banned. . . including T-Ravs!

BevfromNYC said...

T-Rav - not "banned", it's "forbidden". "Banned" is way too conservative-like. Don't tell them, but I have a very strong suspicion that "The Management" is part of the "Committee-That-Knows-Better". Ssshhh, they may be on to us.

The Committee That Knows Better said...

How dare you mock our attempts to make life better for all those children without pools and no knowledge of sports.

The Real Management said...

Dear not real "The Management",

It has come to our attention that you have banned everything including T-Ravs. That's fine with us. We have long been traumatized by "houses with pools" and T-Ravs have that kitten issues. Thanks. Let us know if you want to ban more than everything and we ca work together to make that happen.

The Real Management

T-Rav said...

Dear "The Management"/"The Real Management,"

You'll never take me alive!

Sincerely, T-Rav

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Pope-centric romances will be HUGE soon! ;)


Ellen, That's actually probably the best way to do it. They've proven a generation of bad habits and I would bet they are completely in capable of reform of any sort.

AndrewPrice said...

Happy Easter/Passover/Ramaeaster/Kwanzaeaster everyone!

ScyFyterry said...

Is there such a thing as Ramaeaster? It wouldn't surprise me.

AndrewPrice said...

Terry, Why make waves? Let's just pretend there is! :)

T-Rav said...

Oh yes. Happy Easter everyone! (And also Passover.)

AndrewPrice said...

Don't forget the other "Great Religion" T-Rav... "Whereiswaldoism."

DUQ said...

What troubles me about this ban list is that I know it's being selectively enforced. They will use it against kids they want to target but then will ignore it when other kids use them. This is just more power to punish those they want to punish.

DUQ said...

Bev, How can you stand New York?

United Citizens Council said...

I realize it was all tongue-in-cheek. I ain't that new to the English language. :p

BevfromNYC said...

DUQ, just to be clear. This list is not topics that teachers are not allowed to teach or use. THis was strictly a list of topics and words that cannot be used to create questions on the yearly assessment tests to measure student progress.

I believe that in the classroom, they are allowed to teach on any topic as long as it does not include religion as it pertains to Christianity, reading, writing in English fluently, and mathematics that involves conclusions like 2+2=4. Science is still open for debate as long as it is not about the climate. That science, as we know, has been settled and need not be taught anymore.

BevfromNYC said...

But sadly, Andrew, if any of the T-Ravs smoked, were made of transfats, or were sweetened with sugary beverages, his sockpuppetry would be banned...er...forbidden...er strongly advised against...at least in the NYC version of Commentarama-NYC. Mayor B-berg would see to it.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Could you imagine if we had to comply with state requirements to appear in each state? I'm sure it's coming. Arizona seems to be on the censorship train.

T-Rav said...

As a matter of fact, I am currently banned in 23 of the 50 states, on various offenses. I've been advised to my lawyer not to talk about them, but I can say that none of them are salt- or water-related.

AndrewPrice said...

LOL! Now I've got a Star Wars quote going through my head -- "we're wanted me... we have the death sentence on twelve systems!"

tryanmax said...

Darn, missed out on another fun one. I reviewed the list and while I see that "Gambling involving money" and "Sex" are forbidonotrecommended, there is really nothing standing directly in the way of strip poker. Maybe NYC isn't so crazy after all?

T-Rav, you are an amateur. I am currently banned in twelvety-octogon of the 57 states.

AndrewPrice said...

I think my head is spinning now. That's some serious Obama/Biden math!

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. Nice work thinking like a lawyer and finding the loophole in the ban/forbidden list!

BevfromNYC said...

Tryanmax: I will be stealing "forbidonotrecommended" in the future and taking credit for it. Just thought I'd let you know. That is the perfect word to describe any of the Bloombergian edicts from his health and human services division.

BevfromNYC said...

Oh, and I think leaving the "strip poker" references intact was intentional. It gives the teachers something to teach for the test. And the teachers are embracing it, bless their hearts. Why, just the other day, one of the teachers was found teaching strip poker after hours to one of her students. Such dedication.

tryanmax said...

Bev, you are hereby banned (yes, I said it) from stealing "forbidonotrecommended." And if you don't like it, take it up with Nanny.

tryanmax said...

BTW, you wouldn't be "stealing" it anyway. It would be an "appropriation."

tryanmax said...

Oh yes, and Happy Easter from me and Robert Goulet!

BevfromNYC said...

Tryanmax, technically, only the Government can use the word "appropriation".

And Happy Easter to everyone even Robert Goulet!

AndrewPrice said...

Happy Easter to Robert Goulet!

AndrewPrice said...

By the way, I saw the Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes died. I always liked him. RIP.

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