Last month a list of proposed banned words by the New York City Department of Education made their way into the national media. The words on the list are ones the Department wishes to keep off of standardized tests within the school district, as to not offend the children. Some of the words on the list: birthday, crime, death, evolution, Halloween, religion and my favorite… dinosaur.
I can’t even imagine attending an institute of education and NOT having these words show up on a test. What is the concern with them? It seems to be an overreach of political correctness in defense of religion. The removal of “birthday” as not to offend Jehovah’s Witnesses, “evolution” for the creationists and possibly “dinosaur” for the same reason. I found this strange, considering creationists believe this is historically accurate:
Thankfully, the academic representatives stopped huffing whip-its for a night and announced plans to pull the list. “After reconsidering our message to test publishers and the reaction from parents, we will revise our guidance and eliminate the list of words to avoid on tests,” New York Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky released in a statement.
Another word that was on that list was “slavery”. Last year, Texas conservatives campaigned for revisions to textbooks used in schools, including downplaying the role of slavery in our country’s history, referring to the slave trade now as the “Atlantic triangular trade” in sections. Other revisions included an amendment describing the Civil Rights Movement as creating “unrealistic expectations of equal outcomes,” downplaying the role of Thomas Jefferson (due to his support of the separation of Church and State) and pro-views of McCarthyism. It’s important to note that there were no historians involved in these suggestions. The Texas State Board of Education approved the changes.
In Tennessee, Tea Party members have pushed for their own revisions in the textbooks. What do they want? Well, they want the removal of any references to the founding fathers being slave owners and slavery in general. The party members had the balls to include the following criteria for textbooks: “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”
The Tennessee Tea Party group’s lead spokesman, Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, said at a news conference that the group wished to respond to “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the Founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.” You have to wonder if Mr. Rounds has to take his shoes off when counting to twelve.
But Tennessee is not yet done with dumbing down the youth of America. The home state of the Scopes “Monkey trial” is going back to the well for vengeance. A new measure has passed the Tennessee General Assembly that would protect teachers who allow students to criticize such topics as evolution and global warming. Some groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, believe this measure could introduce religious views into the school district.
This is reminiscent of the backdoor attempt by creationists to introduce their religious agenda under the guise of intelligent design into the curriculum in 2005, which resulted in the Kitzmiller V. Dover Area School District case. Eleven parents objected to a new policy that required the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution. Judge John E. Jones II returned common sense to the school district when he ruled that intelligent design was a religious view and not science. You already know my stance (and the founding fathers) on incorporating religion into legislation.
In 2010, South Dakota adopted HRC 1009, which refers to climate change as “a scientific theory rather than a proven fact”. It attributes the scientific consensus on climate change to “political and philosophical viewpoints”. Clearly, the legislators behind HRC 1009 are unaware of the study that attributes climate change to the death of the Yellow-cedar tree in Alaska or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report findings that read “warming of the climate system is unequivocal.”
Then again we are dealing with a faction of people that believe this is a still life drawing:
Is it any wonder that a faction of today’s youth didn’t realize the sinking of the Titanic actually happened?
We are walking into dangerous territory as a nation when we introduce proven science such as evolution as debatable fair in the classroom or revise the darkest moments of our countries’ history because they offend us. We aren’t giving the unintelligent a voice, we are giving them a soapbox… and people are listening.