NYC Dept. of Education seeks to ban 50 words

Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 05:48 am
In a show of who knows what, other than Mayor Michael 'I am your Czar' Bloomberg running out of ideas, his latest pull of puppet strings has sent the Schools Chancellor, Dennis Walcott, out to grouse about the dreadful words which no student should ever have to see especially on a test.

Although Walcott claims the words will not be banned from the classroom proper, I have my doubts.

Future tests should be quite interesting as they will probably just be a blank sheet of paper which when held up to the light will have a watermark of Bloomberg's image.


You've heard of banned books? Get ready for banned words.

The city Department of Education is aiming to get 50 words removed from some city-issued standardized tests, and some of them are real head-scratchers.
Among the off-limits terms: "politics," "poverty," and "religion."
The reasoning: The words might be distracting to segments of the city's diverse student population.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott described the ban as guidance issued to the developers of standardized tests.
In a request for proposals for standardized tests the Department of Education said the words are not appropriate for use in statewide tests.
The city is not trying to get the words banned from classroom use.
"This is just making sure the test makers are very sensitive in the development of their tests," Walcott told WCBS 880 in an interview.

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

More here: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/03/26/war-on-words-nyc-dept-of-education-wants-50-forbidden-words-removed-from-standardized-tests/
and here: http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/education&id=8595984
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 05:50 am
funny, i'm listening to this story being discussed on yesterdays Opie & Anthony show (on podcast) as i read this

ridiculous ****, why don't the just stop giving tests, aren't they unfair to students who panic under pressure

0 Replies
Joe Nation
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 07:31 am
We should attempt to write a test of 10 questions on any subject without using the words on that list.

World History
American History
American Literature
English (ESL)

For those four, it would be pretty tough.

Joe(go for it)Nation
0 Replies
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 07:36 am
distracting to segments of the city's diverse student population?

When will this all end?
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Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 08:07 am
This is great news for the companies that create the tests!

More money for them, less money for the schools.

Best of all, if kids aren't faced with complex issues, complex issues will cease to exist.
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Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 08:12 am
This guy should be laughed out of anything to do with teaching or teaching administration.
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 08:36 am
Dumb - just plain old dumb
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Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 10:16 am
This guy should be laughed out of anything to do with teaching or teaching administration.

It's part of the ongoing joke known as New York City Department of Education.

The Mayor has full control on all of it. There's technically a panel, but the majority of votes come from people he appoints.

At any rate, back to Walcott. Walcott replaces a newspaper/magazine woman by the name of Cathie Black (she was a Hearst Chairperson) She lasted a few months. She had no experience in the education system, solely in media. Bloomberg decided she could fix the failing system with her business sense. She made a few major gaffes and was disliked by almost everyone. Ms.Black replaced Joel Klein who had been around for years and although not a complete failure, he didn't take the system forward. He ended up resigning (HA!) and being placed in a news corporation with ties to Bloomberg.

Walcott was already a Bloomberg flunky, he'd been Deputy Mayor from early on and had already learned to say "yes sir, no sir, right away sir" to whatever Bloomberg ordered. He does hold a degree in education and in his favor had sent his children to the public schools. His teaching career was that of teaching kindegarten for 2 years. He had been a spokesperson as Deputy Mayor for years helping out in tense situations, and as I indicated he jumps as high as Bloomberg orders.

The educational mess of New York is unbelievable. Bloomberg has done things which have clearly failed.

He instituted a plan whereby students who did not do well enough on standardized tests in grades 3 and 8 would be held back. He then soon after boasted how test grades had risen for those grades....um, yeah...the student is going over the same work again so they might well get a better grade, thus bringing the overall average up.

He is also into school grades which are kind of meaningless and useless and another part of his comedy act.

If a school receives a D or an F they face closure. However there seems to be little rhyme or reason to how this is done. Schools have gone from C to D and stayed at the D, then dropped to an F and are still open. Other schools go up from an F, to a D and he shuts them down. Some are closed as soon as they hit the list, others stay on for a while. It's probably a political matter.

School closures help Bloomberg look like a good man, because he then can boast about opening new schools. It's essentially the same school, just with a different name or number. In some cases he has closed a school and there are now 3 or 4 schools in the building. I think it's more a matter of playing with words. In the high schools where he's made 1 into more, they (all the 'schools') share the cafeteria and the gymnasium sometimes at the same time.

Recently a personal side of the Bloomberg atrocities came in front of me.

Several years ago, we were hanging out on Staten Island. I was placed in P.S.14, The Vanderbilt School. A nice little place, just blocks from a recently torched brewery.

At the time, the school was a top place. Good grades, middle class families sent their children there. The area has changed. The school dropped and dropped and dropped until it was done for. It holds the significance of being the first school on Satan's Island to be shut down.


Not to worry! It's a slow phase out. In September it will have a new section, P.S.78. Same location and the students will be in the same building and some students currently in P.S.14 will still be in....you guessed it, the failing school, P.S.14, with several of the old teachers and possibly the same principal. The new part, P.S.78 will have all new teachers and a different principal.

The new principal scares me: http://www.silive.com/northshore/index.ssf/2012/03/principal_of_ps_78_to_take_roo.html


Of course Bloomeberg hasn't addressed the economic downward spiral of the Stapleton neighborhood.
While I was going there, the housing projects were being built. They added plenty of students. Tracts of land were bought and filled with attached and semi-attached homes. Stores left the area (as I indicated earlier, the brewery was torched about then. It had shut its doors so it wasn't eating into jobs).

More students, more people, less money...nowhere in any of the Bloomberg changes of schools does he address the underlying problems which led to school failure.

One other thing. Of this years schools listed for 'closure', several were ones which Bloomberg himself had had opened under his genius plan. It's no wonder he now has to send Mr.Walcott out to scream about terrible words on tests.
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 02:45 pm
I remember Joel Klein's name and Cathy Black's name - I read rather widely, but sometimes retain only shallow matters like someone's name in a school system 3000 miles away - and not the particulars of their performances in office.

I used to like Bloomberg (me, to the left as I am) but have gotten a sense from comments of people closer to the action that whatever their politics they have a strong distaste. I might understand his mode, the wish to fix stuff.

Well, were I a teacher, I'd probably be a person convoluted into knots of despair over a lot of recent trends. I never aimed to be a teacher because as a senior in high school I was still incredibly shy and quiet (all the talk was in my mind), hadn't been at that time around many children, and thought I'd never be able to handle a classroom. Fifty years later I'll say I was probably right on that, but I've a bunch of friends who went into teaching and they were basically happy they did it. Two taught on indian reservations, two got into the chicago public school system, and one went from airline stewardess/aka world traveler to teacher in the LA school system (with appropriate background for that). They're all retired by now, and I think missed the whole teaching to the test mishugas.

Wondering what you think about Michelle Rhee, the woman who went to Washington dc schools from Sacramento - very controversial, I've read as riding roughshod over people who then complained, but depending on one's view, maybe she was right. I don't know enough, natch.
Reply Fri 30 Mar, 2012 06:16 am
When Bloomberg came in he was what the city needed as far as economic guidance. Unfortunately, he had spent years in control and used the same method towards governing the city. This is not new in the political world, mayors and governors have been doing this for quite a while. They tend not to realize there are others they need to work with, that it's not a one person job.

In Mr.Bloomberg's case, he has gained more and more control, the school board being but one small part of it. Out of a 13 member panel which votes on school closings, he appoints 8 of them. The other 5 are the Borough Presidents. Clearly if he appointed them, they are going to do his bidding, making the panel a joke.

Okay, let me put that aside.

The entire system of educating has shifted too heavily to test scores. Needless hours, in fact days, are spent preparing for the big test. In the sciences this was less of a concern; so I was not directly hit by it. There was though the indirect, as students had to prepare for the all important SAT exams and other life altering tests for English and mathematics. Educating no longer seems to be about the student or about actual teaching, it seems geared more towards making them into robots which can spit out an answer, with no real idea how they arrived at it. When I was departing, things had already been shifting steadily, even in a small place like Rutland. Long term teachers had it the toughest as they were being forced into an alien concept and procedure. Newer staff had been taught that this new modern 'prepare and test; method was the right thing for the children and ate it up. It was more evident in the teachers at the lower levels as was the difference of opinion between the older and the newer teachers.

Regarding Michelle Rhee, she is similar to Bloomberg in many ways...including having a system which has been alleged to have had questionable test scores. I have a feeling this has become more widespread over the last few years as the results became the all important factor. It is the top factor to the teacher so they can keep their job, or receive a bonus. It became a top factor to principals, it is a top issue for any schools chancellor or board administrator, it of major importance to most mayors as they need to point at things which have improved during their time in office. Tests have some importance; but, not to the stomach churning, ulcer causing degree which they have been elevated to. (the recent SAT scandal on Long Island is further evidence of how bad this test nonsense has become)

Oh yes, back to Michelle Rhee, I am still not completely sure about her. Some of her intentions seem good, others not so much. Her insatiable desire to end tenure is troubling.

It's still early...well, it was early, now it's after 8 a.m.. A little later, if I can remember to, I will be posting about Tobacco and a reaction to the 50 words.

Reply Fri 30 Mar, 2012 07:18 am
I cannot stand all these standardized tests. I have a middle school daughter who is top of her class, but yet she only does average on these tests. She is not good at taking these type of tests, but obviously with her good grades and seeing her work on projects, she is not average. There is also some sort of award signed by the President you can get by consistently having high grades, but you also need to have a certain average in these standardized tests. So here is my daughter, top of her class and these other kids that their grades and work performance significantly below her, and she doesn’t get this award because she is only average on these tests.

I was similar, but learned how to take these tests so I could do better for SATs to get into college.

It is really asinine – you teach kids how to take a test, not how to learn.
Reply Fri 30 Mar, 2012 08:06 am
I cannot stand all these standardized tests. I have a middle school daughter who is top of her class, but yet she only does average on these tests. She is not good at taking these type of tests, but obviously with her good grades and seeing her work on projects, she is not average.
Your daughter has a similarity to where I was. I was not a good test taker. I would pass, often managing to be above grade level; but never as good as my classwork would show or even the regular tests given in class indicated I was capable of.

In New York State we also had the terror of the Regents exams. They were another place where I did poorly most of the time. The only places standardized tests ever seemed to work in my favor were math. No idea why.

In the 8th grade I managed the highest score on the math exam for the school (approximately 400 students in the 8th grade), and on the algebra regents I managed an 85, although I was struggling in the class. The algebra exam has always puzzled me since we had to show our work for arriving at the answer.

Standardized reading tests were the biggest horror. For whatever reason, reading a paragraph and then answering questions on it, was impossible for me.

My SAT scores were somewhat dreadful, in the mid 500s on both (there were only the 2 sections back in those days, not the 3 they're now being subjected to...talk about overtesting, sheeesh!) I managed to receive college offers based on my intended majors of history and theology, both of which I tossed aside rather quickly after getting into a school. My intention of teaching was also indicated. With grades averaging around a B, I was not going to Yale or Harvard; but some nice schools came after me, most likely because of the oddball choices for majors. I recall 2 other students I knew, with better grades and better SAT scores having less offers. One became a special ed. teacher, the other I don't know.

Selecting odd majors does help. "John" said he was going to be a Forest Ranger or something dealing with forestry. He ended up being my counterpart in a high school in another state, teaching science.

My fervent hope is that in the next 10 to 25 years at most, the people will realize the foolishness of standardized testing and base things upon classwork, tests given in class, oral exams for students who had difficulty wielding a pen or pencil on the usual test.
Reply Fri 30 Mar, 2012 08:07 am
Michelle Rhee is a goddamn horror story!
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Reply Fri 30 Mar, 2012 08:11 am
April fools! They just put it online early. Right?
Reply Fri 30 Mar, 2012 08:18 am

April fools! They just put it online early. Right?

Sadly no.

The only possibility beyond it being a most likely done deal will be if there is enough outrage generated from the public, parents in particular, and more importantly the city council and state leaders. Wait, what am I saying? Bloomberg doesn't care what the parents think...
Reply Fri 30 Mar, 2012 08:24 am
My 3rd grader will be taking these tests for the first time - curious as to how she will do - they have these tests next week.

We get the results in a package - you try even to make heads and tails out of them - I pretty much throw them away.

The one good thing is both my kids are well rounded (actually a comment we have received frequently from their teachers) so I think that will help them out and they are also athletes and play competitively which also helps in college. The odd major - how is endangered species specialist? Is there such a major?- that is what my older daughter has said she's wanted to be since about 3rd grade. that and a basketball player.
Reply Fri 30 Mar, 2012 08:26 am
will the lady mayoress, when she has children of her own, want them to be subjected to such limiting tests
Reply Fri 30 Mar, 2012 11:29 pm
another topic i know nothing about. TROLL.
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Reply Sat 31 Mar, 2012 04:14 pm
Christine Quinn only wants to make it a requirement to shove all children into Kindergarten classes. She recalls her days living in an affluent community where her mummy would drive her to a district which had such a thing as the school she was to attend did not. She hasn't explained where the funding for an already financially strained system will come from.

Remind me to get back to the Tobacco matter.
Reply Sat 31 Mar, 2012 04:21 pm
The odd major - how is endangered species specialist? Is there such a major?- that is what my older daughter has said she's wanted to be since about 3rd grade. that and a basketball player.

She'd better be good in biology.

Google search 'endangered species specialist major' or 'endangered species specialist careers' to get an idea what this work would be.


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