Helen Whalen Cohen

When I noted in this forum that the New York City Department of Education had banned 50 words from appearing on tests, some of our readers jokingly asked if I was kidding. Unfortunately I was not, and now the NYC Ed Department has published those 50 words, proving it.

Howard Portnoy, over at Hot Air's Green Room reprinted the entire list, which I am copying verbatim here:

 

  • 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)
  • Celebrities
  • Children dealing with serious issues
  • Cigarettes (and other smoking paraphernalia)
  • Computers in the home (acceptable in a school or library setting)
  • Crime
  • Death and disease
  • Divorce
  • Evolution
  • Expensive gifts, vacations, and prizes
  • Gambling involving money
  • Halloween
  • Homelessness
  • Homes with swimming pools
  • Hunting
  • Junk food
  • In-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge
  • Loss of employment
  • Nuclear weapons
  • Occult topics (i.e. fortune-telling)
  • Parapsychology
  • Politics
  • Pornography
  • Poverty
  • Rap Music
  • Religion
  • Religious holidays and festivals (including but not limited to Christmas, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan)
  • Rock-and-Roll music
  • Running away
  • Sex
  • Slavery
  • Terrorism
  • Television and video games (excessive use)
  • Traumatic material (including material that may be particularly upsetting such as animal shelters)
  • Vermin (rats and roaches)
  • Violence
  • War and bloodshed
  • Weapons (guns, knives, etc.)
  • Witchcraft, sorcery, etc.

There is the occasional word that shouldn't really be discussed in grade school anyway (the word 'pornography' comes to mind), but most of these are just plain silly. Loss of employment? Good luck avoiding that one on an economics test. And although Health Class tests seem a little silly, they do exist and usually the subject of alcohol or tobacco comes up. Maybe they can replace 'Happy Halloween' with 'Happy Holidays', though.


Helen Whalen Cohen

Helen Whalen Cohen is Associate Editor and Community Manager at Townhall.com.