The New York City Department of Education recently released a list of subjects not to be placed on city-issued tests. “The forbidden topics were recently spelled out in a request for proposals provided to companies competing to revamp city English, math, science and social-studies tests given several times a year to measure student progress.” For a full list of the topics, see here. Some of the topics include:
- Gambling involving money and in-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge. (This would apparently render useless the time Johnny has spent filling out his March Madness bracket.)
- Vermin (rats and roaches) and politics (clearly the Department didn’t catch the redundancy here)
- Bodily functions (such as thinking, obviously)
This is not necessarily a right-left political issue; it would appear that this bureaucratic edict is an equal-opportunity offender. It does seem to be a case of political correctness run amok; many of the issues on the list would seem to be some of the prime issues to discuss in a social studies test, for example. It appears that a main motivation for the list (and there are many such lists around the U.S., just not as lengthy as the New York one) is to spare the test-takers any undue stress whilst taking the exam. I’m not clear as to why a question about dancing (though ballet is okay) would be stressful, but that’s just me. I’m not an educator.
Bottom line here- when do our kids become exposed to what don’t even appear to be very controversial subjects? Do we wait until college? They’ll need to learn in time that life can be a wee bit stressful at times. And at some point they will need to learn that there is another world out there with often a different take on things. I vote for that exposure occurring at least in high school, or even before.
Besides, if we shelter these kids from the list's forbidden topics such as dinosaurs, creatures from outer space, celebrities, rap music, or parapsychology, then the tactic of having the National Enquirer at every checkout stand as a study aid for tomorrow’s test will have been totally in vain…