Human Evolution - Skeletons
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I wouldn't have expected New York City to be a place where teaching evolution would be such a problem, but apparently it is. The very word "evolution" is on a list of words New York City Department of Education wants to entirely eliminate from standards tests out of concern that it might "upset" some students.
Because, you know, some Christians get so freaked out when confronted with the real world. And schools should never do that to those precious snow flakes.
The word "dinosaur" made the hit list because dinosaurs suggest evolution which creationists might not like, WCBS 880′s Marla Diamond reported. "Halloween" is targeted because it suggests paganism; a "birthday" might not be happy to all because it isn't celebrated by Jehovah's Witnesses. ...
In a throwback to "Footloose," the word "dancing" is also taboo. However, there is good news for kids that like "ballet": The city made an exception for this form of dance.
Also banned are references to "divorce" and "disease," because kids taking the tests may have relatives who split from spouses or are ill.
Source: CBS New York
CBS provides the complete list of words that the administrators want to protect children from seeing:
- 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)
- 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
- Junk food
- In-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge
- Loss of employment
- Nuclear weapons
- Occult topics (i.e. fortune-telling)
- Rap Music
- Religious holidays and festivals (including but not limited to Christmas, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan)
- Rock-and-Roll music
- Running away
- 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.
First, I suppose it has to be pointed out that even if the goal is wonderful and the list is a reasonable means to achieve the goal, the list will fail unless it's also applied to the classrooms. If exposure to these words really is so awful, then students need to be protected from them in the regular daily lessons, not simply in a standardized test that comes around once a year.
So if the school administrators are to be taken seriously about their goals, then they have to be planning to ban these words from classes as well. And if they aren't planning it, then they aren't serious about their stated goals. So why isn't there any mention of banning the words from classes? And why haven't the reporters asked that important question? Seems like a pretty obvious concern to me.
Second, I can't take the alleged goals of the administrators very seriously because their approach with this list is so broad. I could perhaps be persuaded that it's inappropriate (and unnecessary) to have questions in standardized tests about physical and sexual abuse, about rape, about alcoholism... even about smoking cigarettes. So much of the rest, though, is just nonsense -- especially when we get to things involving basic science.
Now, I can understand and perhaps forgive a desire to remove references to celebrities, wealth, and similar things. I disagree with a total ban (though if there were a ton of such questions, that would be reason for concern), but I can understand it. I do not, however, have any tolerance for any desire to remove references to basic facts of life -- especially scientific facts -- simply because it might disturb someone's fantasy life.