Sunday, June 2, 2002

First BestOfTheWSJweb submission

Sunday, June 2, 2002 9:17 AM
From: "Arnold Nelson" To: "Best of the Web" <>

What's wrong with a little censorship... long as "[no] student ... feel[s] ill at easewhile taking [a] test."

A news article in the Sunday, June 2, 2002 New YorkTimes 'The Elderly Man and the Sea? Test Sanitizes Literary Texts' describes how Regents tests, which NewYork State requires public high school students to take to graduate, "...are modified ... to satisfy elaborate 'sensitivity review guidelines.'"

Here are three paragraphs:

"... a mother of a high school senior ... inspected 1 high school English exams from the past three years and discovered that the vast majority of the passages— drawn from the works of Isaac Bashevis Singer, AntonChekhov and William Maxwell, among others — had been sanitized of virtually any reference to race, religion, ethnicity, sex, nudity, alcohol, even the mildest profanity and just about anything that might offend someone for some reason.

Students had to write essays and answer questions based on these doctored versions — versions that were clearly marked as the work of the widely known authors."
"Certain revisions bordered on the absurd. In a speech by Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general,in addition to deletions about the United States' unpaid debt to the United Nations, any mention of wine and drinking was removed. Instead of praising 'fine California wine and seafood,' he ends up praising'fine California seafood.' "

Roseanne DeFabio, the Education Department's assistant commissioner for curriculum, instruction and assessment, was quoted on Friday, "We do shorten the passages and alter the passages to make them suitablef or testing situations." The changes are made to satisfy the sensitivity guidelines the department uses, so no student will be "uncomfortable in a testing situation," she said. "Even the most wonderful writers don't write literature for children to take on a test."

Read it all at:

Arnold H. Nelson in Chicago

[And here is the link to the June 3, 2002 BestOfTheWeb

where the above story is refed in the column near the end, and my name is in the contributor's list at the end of the column.

It got better: About a year later, the NYTimes had another article on this subject, I sent that to BOTWT... and got it printed then, too (see you later.)