Did you hear about the controversy in New York last month, when the Department of Education there tried to ban certain words from the city's standardized tests because they might upset children?
The hit list included such troubling topics as "divorce," "politics," "dancing," "cancer," "war," disease" and "television."
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The word "dinosaur" was targeted because dinosaurs suggest evolution, which creationists might not like. "Halloween" was out because it suggested paganism; "birthday" was bad because it isn't celebrated by Jehovah's Witnesses.
Words that suggested wealth were excluded because they could make kids jealous. "Poverty," too, was forbidden because, well, everybody knows poverty sucks.
In all, there were 50 taboo test topics, but the department backed down and scrapped the list after parents complained of political correctness gone awry. The DOE is still asking test-makers to be sensitive to NYC students' wide variety of backgrounds.
If words have that kind of power over kids up there, I'm thinking Miami students have their own set of terms that conjure up unpleasant feelings. So, as Miami-Dade County Public Schools wrap up their FCATs this week, here are topics I propose should be excluded from this important, state-mandated test so our children don't have to suffer or be confused anymore.
· "Hills", "waves," "basements," "snow days," "parking" at baseball stadiums and other things that don't exist in Miami.
· Any word problems involving time – we all know everybody in Miami is at least an hour late to everything.
· "Brazilian" – isn't this a bikini wax, not a nationality?
· "Fix-A-Flat" – it's a butt enhancer in Miami, not a car care product.
· "Dash" – too much confusion over whether it's the Kardashians' store on South Beach, the magnet high school in the Design District or what you have to do to cross a street in downtown Miami.
· "Andrew" (and "Wilma," "Ivan," "Katrina," "Donna" "and any other name that conjures up destructive hurricanes that have wreaked havoc on our lives.
· "Rock," because in Miami this means Dwayne Johnson, not a naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals.
· Anything ending in "ing" – that's the marathon people run every January, not a verb form.
· Fidel Castro – because he (and everybody who admires him) is dead to us.
· "Road rage" and "Palmetto Expressway," synonyms that can cause disturbing flashbacks.