PUBLISHED: 14:32 EST, 3 April 2012 | UPDATED: 14:35 EST, 3 April 2012
New York education officials chose to reverse their controversial decision to be extremely politically correct and keep words like ‘dinosaur’ and ‘birthday’ off of standardized tests.
The New York Department of education withdrew its suggested ban of 50 words from the state’s standardized tests after receiving a backlash from angry parents.
Other words that were on the list were ‘birthdays’ (because Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t observe them), class-indentifying terms like wealth and poverty, and ‘Halloween’ (as it may imply paganism). ‘Television’ and ‘dancing’ were also on the list.
‘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,’ department official Shael Polakow-Suransky wrote in a statement.
‘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,’ he continued.
The department initially wrote in the initial report obtained by the New York Post that it was taking these steps because such words ‘could evoke unpleasant emotions in the students’.
This is the fifth year that the department made suggestions of which words to avoid, but this particular list was the most outrageous.
The document went on to say: ‘Some of these topics may be perfectly acceptable in other contexts but do not belong in a city- or state-wide assessment’.
The Post reported that various states are introducing their own lists of banned topics, but New York City’s is nearly two times longer.
Other terms on the prohibited list include ‘terrorism’- because it is too horrific – along with ‘divorce’ and any references to disease.
An education department spokeswoman told the Post that the list is a way for students to ‘complete practice exams with distraction’.
She insisted that the guidelines are not an attempt at censorship by the Department of Education.
Education experts have been left shaking their heads over the matter.
Columbia University Teachers College professor Deanna Kuhn told the Post: ‘If the goal is to assess higher-order thinking skills, controversial topics, for example, ones that are the subject of political debate, are exactly what students should be reasoning about’.