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New York city schools want to ban 'loaded words' from tests
"Dinosaur" is among the words New York CIty is looking to ban from tests, apparently over concerns it could bother creationists.
March 28th, 2012
07:19 PM ET

New York city schools want to ban 'loaded words' from tests

By Brian Vitagliano, CNN

New York (CNN) - Divorce. Dinosaurs, Birthdays. Religion. Halloween. Christmas. Television. These are a few of the 50-plus words and references the New York City Department of Education is hoping to ban from the city’s standardized tests.

The banned word list was made public – and attracted considerable criticism – when the city’s education department recently released this year’s "request for proposal" The request for proposal is sent to test publishers around the country trying to get the job of revamping math and English tests for the City of New York.

The Department of Education's says that avoiding sensitive words on tests is nothing new, and that New York City is not the only locale to do so. California avoids the use of the word "weed" on tests and Florida avoids the phrases that use "Hurricane" or "Wildfires," according to a statement by the New York City Department of Education.

In its request for proposal, the NYC Department of Education explained it wanted to avoid certain words if the "the topic is controversial among the adult population and might not be acceptable in a state-mandated testing situation; the topic has been overused in standardized tests or textbooks and is thus overly familiar and/or boring to students; the topic appears biased against (or toward) some group of people."

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Matthew Mittenthal, a spokesman for the NYC Department of Education, said this is the fifth year they have created such a list.  He said such topics "could evoke unpleasant emotions in the students."

"Dinosaurs" evoking unpleasant emotions? The New York Post speculated that the "dinosaurs" could "call to mind evolution, which might upset fundamentalists.”

But what the tabloid failed to realize is that those "fundamentalists" who oppose evolution on religious grounds, believe wholeheartedly in dinosaurs.

Young Earth creationists, or Biblical creationists as they prefer to be called, often point to dinosaurs in making their arguments.  They say dinosaurs and humans roamed Earth together, citing legends of dragons and say the fossil record shows the earth is 6,000 years old, though few paleontologists and geologists share this theory.

At the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, the heart of the Young Earth Creationism movement, dinosaur models and exhibits fill the museum displays and gift shop.

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Apparently many of the words on New York’s list were  avoided because of faith-based concerns.

For instance, the use of the word "birthday" or the phrase "birthday celebrations" may offend Jehovah's Witnesses, who do not celebrate birthdays. A spokesperson for the Jehovah's Witnesses declined to comment on the use of the word "birthday."

The Department of Education would not go on the record to explain the specific reasons for each word, which has left many to speculate and draw their own conclusions.

Halloween may suggest paganism; divorce may conjure up uneasy feelings for children in the midst of a divorce within their family. One phrase that may surprise many, the term "Rock 'n' Roll" was on the "avoid" list.

Piers Morgan's "Only in America": 50 banned words

And not good news for Italians: the Department of Education also advised avoiding  references to types of food, such as pepperoni, products they said "persons of some religions or cultures may not indulge in."

The Department of Education said, "This is standard language that has been used by test publishers for many years and allows our students to complete practice exams without distraction."

Stanford University Professor Sam Wineburg is an expert in the field of education and director of the Stanford History Education Group.

When reached by phone said Wineburg, after a brief pause on the line, "the purpose of education is to create unpleasant experiences in us. ... The Latin meaning if education is 'to go out.'  Education is not about making us feel warm and fuzzy inside."

Wineburg questioned the idea that the New York City Department of Education would want to "shield kids from these types of encounters."  He said the goal of education is to "prepare them," adding "this is how we dumb down public schools."

CNN's Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Church and state • Education

soundoff (3,780 Responses)
  1. Kindness

    1. For you.
    A thought to consider without a typical ego response
    Accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....
    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeing a new color. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transcend any selfism within you.
    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.
    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.
    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both Christians and non are sinners.
    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .
    Try reading Corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in today’s society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from some other person...which may have been full of arrogance pride or vanity..
    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revenge, gluttony with food etc .
    Transcend the temporal world.
    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat itself.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagiarized..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transferred back to the rulers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .
    Transcend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change)
    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence.....
    Faith. Above. Reason. In. Jesus. Christ.
    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible. Ask Jesus in faith for discernment and start reading the New Testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how Christ sets an example ... feel the truth....
    Read Ecclesiastes. Read Corinthians.
    You can’t transcend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy/s to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.
    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are in Christ.
    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .
    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?
    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.
    Once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new color.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it
    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.

    It’s a personal free experience you can do it free anytime.
    Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >

    It’s awesome… and it’s just between you and Jesus..

    June 6, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  2. ByZa

    hi Terry , IM just starting to come right again after panliyg around on northburn over the weekend ,looking forward to being there next year . Small problem at present is that i recieved a tee shirt top but paid for a long sleeve one ! i like the tee so happy to pay for that and get a long sleve . please confirm this .regards ,terry connolly ,(109) cheers

    May 19, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
  3. jmpw

    No wonder we are such a litigious country. We are TAUGHT to be offended by everything. This wipes out the ideas of sharing cultures, dealing with social issues and accepting others. Besides, how will I ever order pizza if I can't use the "P" word?

    April 22, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  4. A'mina Dowe

    Reblogged this on doweamina.

    April 17, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  5. A'mina Dowe

    Reblogged this on doweamina.

    April 17, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  6. Shasta

    "They who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -Ben Franklin

    April 13, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • Krzysiek

      Happy Aniniversary! That is so exciting 25 years! Hope you all do sontheimg to celebrate such a successful business and all of the beautiful photographs that grace the homes of many people!

      May 21, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  7. weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

    I asked Jesus for a dinosaurs and I got a Dog 😦

    April 10, 2012 at 8:31 am |
  8. RedGrant

    Let's bring back Ebonics before it's too late.

    April 8, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
  9. højskole

    We're a gaggle of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your web site provided us with helpful information to paintings on. You have performed a formidable activity and our entire group can be grateful to you.

    April 7, 2012 at 8:21 am |
  10. Lance

    You have got to be kidding. I'm a Christian and the words 'evolution' 'Ramadan' 'witchcraft don't insult me. I don't agree with there meanings, but this censorship is ridiculous. All of this PC crap is getting annoying. We all keep wanting to please everybody. If you're offended by these words get over it

    April 5, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  11. ElmerGantry

    Beware this troll. It feeds voraciously by baiting comments.

    The troll's screen name is,
    Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    DO NOT FEED!

    April 3, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
  12. Mike

    Scandal might be on the list too considering what the Catholic priests have been up to lately....
    Don't want the little boys to know about it till the man has his hands on you right?

    April 3, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  13. RillyKewl

    Chilling. If this can happen in NYC, there is nowhere safe left on this earth to get an education.
    I would fight this with every fiber of my being.

    All we need now is to have a next generation filled with misinformed dummies walking the streets. Fantastic.
    I could cry. Or scream.

    April 3, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • ScienceGirl

      I completely agree; it is chilling that censorship like this is going on in AMERICAN schools. Sure, are some of the words unpleasant? Yes, but to completely ban them . . . It is mind-boggling. The only way truly sustainable mental and intellectual growth can occur is by CHALLENGING the mind! If we get rid of any and all "charged" words in schools, what is next? Newspapers? The internet? We will start living in a world with no passion, nothing to incite anyone's interest or ire or joy. How lame, how pointless.

      April 3, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • J.W

      I bet sciencegirl is hot

      April 3, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • just sayin

      I know that J.W is soft.

      April 3, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      J.W., Off topic troll

      April 3, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things. .

    April 3, 2012 at 6:32 am |
    • Jesus

      No it doesn't you are so full of crap and lies. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.!

      April 3, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • tehheh

      Religious troller—Stop trying to change the subject.

      April 3, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Beware the limited vocabulary troll!

      April 3, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Have never seen this troll use more than five unique words.

      April 3, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      @Jesus,

      Don't bother feeding this troll. Discussion with it is useless. It gets it's jollies this way.

      April 3, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
  15. guigsy

    Awesome idea!!! How about we burn all the books in the library too?

    April 2, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  16. Bootyfunk

    this kind of story makes you want to kick yourself in the head. "dinosaurs" on a test might upset fundamentalists. LOL. are you joking? FACTS upset fundamentalists. that dinosaurs lived is a FACT.

    awesome religion, way to make our kids dumber and unprepared for the modern world.

    April 2, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things. .

    April 2, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Jesus

      More lies. No it doesn't. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.!

      April 2, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Mike

      They must not have prayed fast enough over in Oakland, I guess. Then again, bullets travel pretty fast and I heard lead projectiles are minimally effected by fairly tail words from a common religious person.

      April 2, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • LILmexican

      @Jesus
      If you don't believe in Yourself, how are we supposed to believe in You!?!

      April 3, 2012 at 4:37 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      You are only feeding a troll.

      April 3, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
  18. merridee

    Pure insanity.

    April 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Prayer changes lives
    For the better
    Proven

    April 2, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • Jack Kieser

      Lol. Maybe cite a source and we'll talk. As it stands, prayer actually causes harm; multiple double-blind studies have found that prayer actually is detrimental to cancer patients. Someone who's not on a corporate network, please reply and find the study for me. 😛

      April 2, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Jesus

      You've been proven wrong. Still spreading your lies. No it doesn't. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs

      April 2, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Stop feeding this troll and it will go away. Keep feeding it and you will only get frustrated.

      April 3, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  20. just sayin

    Well you have proven your incompetence to me wonk.

    April 2, 2012 at 10:46 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.