The New York Post reports that the New York City department of Education has advised testmakers of 50 not very controversial "controversial" words to avoid when creating city-wide standardized tests. Among those singled out: dancing (except ballet – guess someone hasn't seen Black Swan), death, and politics.
And "creatures from outerspace," obviously.
The list of words, available online via CBSNewYork, was recently submitted to a number of companies vying for a contract to revamp the city-wide standardized Math and English tests used to measure student progress throughout the year.
The words were chosen over administrative concerns they might "evoke unpleasant emotions in the students."
Another topic that evokes unpleasant emotions in students: tests, which are not, as yet, scheduled for a ban.
Also on the list: all mentions of holidays, religious, pagan, and personal (Christmas, Halloween, Birthdays) and things that do not exist (dinosaurs, homes with swimming pools.)
- Monsters, Inc.: Children Dealing with Serious Issues (monsters), Psychological Abuse (intentional scaring), Celebrities (Billy Crystal), Running Away (to a world of monsters), Traumatic Material (Billy Crystal)
- Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs: Dinosaurs (dinosaurs), Catastrophes/disasters (global ice age), Evolution (woolly mammoth)
- Finding Nemo: Children Dealing with Serious Issues (separation from parent), Death (Nemo's mom, RIP), Running Away (from an overprotective parent)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Emotional Abuse (Dursleys), Children Dealing with Serious Issues (protecting the world from a homicidal maniac; prepping for final exams at an elite British boarding school), Crime (murder; sneaking off school grounds), Alcohol (butterbeer), In-Depth Discussions of Sports That Require Prior Knowledge (Quidditch), Religion (scene with Christmas tree in it), Violence (tons), Parapsychology (Professor Trelawney), Vermin (Ron's rat), Traumatic Material (Buckbeak's execution), Witchcraft/Sorcery/etc. (Harry frigging Potter)
- The Incredibles: Children Dealing with Serious Issues (fighting supervillains), Violence (fighting supervillains), Weapons (fighting supervillains)
- The Chronicles of Narnia: Children Dealing with Serious Issues (preserving a magical kingdom), Religion (Jesus lion), Witches (Tilda Swinton), Violence, Weapons, and War (swords a plenty)
- Night at the Museum: Dinosaurs (bones of), Politics (Theodore Roosevelt), Crime (theft of artifacts), Divorce (Ben Stiller's character, according to Wikipedia), Loss of Employment (security guard/American Treasure Dick Van Dyke), Witchcraft (re-animation of the dead and wax)
- High School Musical: Dancing (tons of it – the devil's cha-cha), In-Depth Discussions of Sports that Require Prior Knowledge (basketball), Crime (criminally catchy tunes, haha, zing)
- Wall-E: Computers in the Home (space home), Vermin (roach friend), Junk Food (delicious)
- Up: Children Dealing with Serious Issues (stranger danger; childhood obesity), Death (I know you cried when Ellie died)
It's important to note that, while the inclusion of one of these topics "would probably cause a selection to be deemed unacceptable by the New York City Department of Education," there is, officially, no outright "ban" on these items. The department allows that some terms might be included on some exams "on a case-by-case basis." (Fingers crossed for "in-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge" on English tests.)