Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Carnival time

Entries for the 27th edition of The Carnival Of Education are due TONIGHT (Tuesday) by 10:00 PM. (Eastern) 7:00 (Pacific). Send all submissions to owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net.

I hope owlshome doesn't scare away anybody.

From Diane Ravitch's Items Deleted from a Doomed Fourth-Grade Reading Test

No More Owls
The passage about owls was like a children’s encyclopedia entry. It described how their keen eyesight and hearing enabled them to hunt at night for rodents. When I saw that this passage was rejected, I imagined that it was because of the violence associated with hunting (although that’s how the owl survives). I was wrong. The passage was rejected because a Native-American member of the bias committee said that owls are taboo for the Navajos. Consequently, the entire committee agreed that the passage should be dropped. The test publisher added a notation that the owl is associated with death in some other cultures and should not be mentioned anymore, neither in texts nor in illustrations.

Here is a classic problem presented by today’s bias and sensitivity review process. If any cultural group attributes negative connotations to anything, or considers it taboo or offensive, then that topic will not be referred to, represented, described, or illustrated on tests. But owls exist. They are real birds. They are not creatures of the imagination. Nevertheless, to avoid giving offense, the tests will pretend that owls don’t exist. Owls are to be deleted and never again mentioned to the highly vulnerable and sensitive American schoolchild.

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