On a quiet November afternoon in 2010, I went to view “Waiting for Superman.” As a home educator with a deep interest in public education, I needed to see how Hollywood would portray the plight of public education on the big screen. A gripping documentary from beginning to end, filmmaker Davis Guggenheim made no effort to glamorize or give it a happy ending. *SPOILER ALERT* Some of the students he followed were fortunate to win a lottery to enroll at their local charter schools, but for others whose numbers were not selected and with limited income, their educational future looked devastatingly grim.
The documentary put the failing public education system front and center. Naively, I believed that this clarion call for change would bring the sea change needed to steer back our public education in the right direction.
U.S. students are number 25 and 21 in math and science, respectively among 30 developed nations, so what does NYC do? The city’s Department of Education comes out with a new sex education mandate for middle schoolers and high schoolers. I’m sure NYC students’ performance on the upcoming standardized tests will now be soaring through the roofs since they’re going to be armed with the knowledge of how to properly put on condoms. And just in case that wasn’t enough to raise those pesky test scores this April, the NYC Educrats have come up with another tactic: The War on Words.
In their infinite wisdom, officials at the city’s Department of Education fearing that certain words and topics would cause unpleasantness for their students, are requesting that 50 or so words be banned from the city-issued tests.
Here is the complete list of words that could be banned:
Abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological)
Alcohol (beer and liquor), tobacco, or drugs
Birthday celebrations (and birthdays)
Cancer (and other diseases)
Catastrophes/disasters (tsunamis and hurricanes)
Children dealing with serious issues
Cigarettes (and other smoking paraphernalia)
Computers in the home (acceptable in a school or library setting)
Death and disease
Expensive gifts, vacations, and prizes
Gambling involving money
Homes with swimming pools
In-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge
Loss of employment
Occult topics (i.e. fortune-telling)
Religious holidays and festivals (including but not limited to Christmas, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan)
Television and video games (excessive use)
Traumatic material (including material that may be particularly upsetting such as animal shelters)
Vermin (rats and roaches)
War and bloodshed
Weapons (guns, knives, etc.)
Witchcraft, sorcery, etc.
I wonder how these officials decided that the idea of “junk food” and “birthdays” would be unpleasant for the tender impressionable youngsters, but at the same time gave the pass on the word, “condom”?
“This whole thing of controlling information, censorship. Yeah, that’s a part of this scene.” ~ Rev. Howard Bess, Church of the Covenant on Sarah Palin and her church, Assembly of God when it was rumored that she had banned hundreds of books as mayor of Wasila. Turned out later that all these rumors were blatantly false, but the damage was done. It further tarnished her image and crippled her politically during the 2008 presidential elections.
Here is the media attack.
Why aren’t the same people crying out “censorship” now?
Why is the system that is supposed to educate our children, trying to keep them ignorant?
*UPDATE* as of April 2, 2012. I am happy to report that the NYC Department of Education have decided to drop their effort to have 50 or so “forbidden” words banned from the standardized tests. They heard the parents reaction and have changed their course of action.