Every year, millions of New York City students take midterms and final exams at school.
This year, the New York Department of Education sent a memo to teachers, saying their tests can’t contain 50 words considered “distracting” or “biased” to the city’s students.
The words in question can still be freely used in classrooms, just not as part of a standardized test exam question – but considering some of the words are “poverty” and “slavery,” it’s going to be pretty hard to test students’ about something basic – like The Civil War – without coming up with some really convoluted synonyms.
The list also includes the words “rock n’ roll,” “evolution,” and “catastrophes / disasters” -
Which would make learning about The ’60s Counterculture Revolution, biology, and geology / history / life kind of hard, right?
Get more info on CNN.com, or click below to see the full list of banned words… along with our own examples of basic academic subjects that need those words to exist…
- Abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological) - “Sula” by Toni Morrison, required by many 11th grade English classes. Treatment of slaves pre-abolition. The Holocaust. War crimes in general. Anti-bullying discussions. And on, and on…
- Alcohol (beer and liquor), tobacco, or drugs – Health class, biology class, tobacco as a “cash crop” and its importance to the American Colonies and the Civil War…
- Birthday celebrations (and birthdays) – How are you going to explain why Martin Luther King day is on January 15th?
- Bodily functions – Biology, chemistry.
- Cancer (and other diseases) – Biology, chemistry.
- Catastrophes/disasters (tsunamis and hurricanes) – Geology, history, current events.
- Celebrities – Current events, politics.
- Children dealing with serious issues - Guess “To Kill A Mockingbird” is out, too…
- Cigarettes (and other smoking paraphernalia) - Guess “Alice in Wonderland” is out, too…
- Computers in the home (acceptable in a school or library setting) – ???
- Crime – American history, world history, The Constitution.
- Death and disease - Science, literature, history, life.
- Divorce – Henry VIII and the rise of Protestantism no longer on history curriculum
- Evolution - Awesome, we hated that entire semester of bio class…
- Expensive gifts, vacations, and prizes – No “Hunger Games” for you.
- Gambling involving money – Checkhov now forbidden in drama class – the Greek tragedies where the gamble with a young priestess’ life are still ok, though?
- Halloween – Salem Witch Trials banned from history class.
- Homelessness – Social issues and urban planning discussions suspended.
- Homes with swimming pools – Duh, every neighborhood in NYC has a really good YMCA.
- Hunting – See you later, Jamestown Colonies, Westward expansion, pioneer living, the Oregon Trail, and Native American culture…
- Junk food – Health class, chemistry class, human anatomy class…
- In-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge - Okay. Except Dancing With The Stars because everyone knows about that, right? Oh wait, no celebrities… well, the people on DWTS aren’t celebrities anymore, so is that okay?
- Loss of employment – Skip that semester in history about The Great Depression…
- Nuclear weapons – Skip that semester in history about The Cold War… oh, also, no more physics class…
- Occult topics (i.e. fortune-telling) – Please put away your copy of Edgar Allen Poe. Also, Rasputin no longer taught in Russian History class.
- Parapsychology – Third graders now forbidden from reading “Matilda.”
- Politics – No more history class! Ever!
- Pornography – Seems reasonable. Except if you consider porn any naked person and then bio class and anatomy take a hit… again…
- Poverty – History, econ 101, current events…
- Rap Music – This is sick and unfortunate.
- Religion – Hide your materials on The Crusades / The Holocaust / The Puritans / The Pilgrims / Church and State debates / The Constitution / Dante’s Inferno / Paradise Lost / Hamlet / everything.
- Religious holidays and festivals (including but not limited to Christmas, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan) – How about Festivus?!
- Rock-and-Roll music – This is also sick and unfortunate.
- Running away – Bye bye, “Huck Finn.”
- Sex – We dare you not to talk about it in biology / history / English / chemistry / health class.
- Slavery – Well thanks to the “no tobacco” rule, we can’t talk about The Civil War or the Colonies anyway, so…
- Terrorism – CNN, The New York Times, and Newsweek also now banned from schools.
- Television and video games (excessive use) – How about Words With Friends when played in moderation?
- Traumatic material (including material that may be particularly upsetting such as animal shelters) – Because nothing is as traumatic as adopting a cat.
- Vermin (rats and roaches) – Cholera, typhoid, and other NYC history lessons nixed; biology skips over small mammals and bugs.
- Violence – It’s still okay to encourage kids to sign up for the military, though.
- War and bloodshed – (See above. Then skip history class for the rest of your school year.)
- Weapons (guns, knives, etc.) (See above. Also forget “The Things They Carried,” or any other wartime novel.)
- Witchcraft, sorcery, etc. It’s okay – The Crucible was really boring, anyway…