If you’re an actress or a coed just trying to do a man-size job, a yes-man who turns a deaf ear to some sob sister, an heiress aboard her yacht, or a bookworm enjoying a boy’s night out, Diane Ravitch’s internationally acclaimed The Language Police has bad news for you: Erase those words from your vocabulary!
Textbook publishers and state education agencies have sought to root out racist, sexist, and elitist language in classroom and library materials. But according to Diane Ravitch, a leading historian of education, what began with the best of intentions has veered toward bizarre extremes. At a time when we celebrate and encourage diversity, young readers are fed bowdlerized texts, devoid of the references that give these works their meaning and vitality. With forceful arguments and sensible solutions for rescuing American education from the pressure groups that have made classrooms bland and uninspiring, The Language Police offers a powerful corrective to a cultural scandal.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: The Language Police|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group|
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|Parent title||The Language Police|
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The Language Police
One: Forbidden Topics, Forbidden Words
The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious en- croachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.
—Justice Louis D. Brandeis
I decided to write this book as a way of solving a mystery. After many years of studying the history of education and writing about the politics of education, I discovered some things that shocked me. Almost by accident, I stumbled upon an elaborate, well-established protocol of beneficent censorship, quietly endorsed and broadly implemented by textbook publishers, testing agencies, states, and the federal government. I did not learn about this state of affairs in one fell swoop, but one step at a time. Like others who are involved in education, be they parents or teachers or administrators or journalists or scholars, I had always assumed that textbooks were based on careful research and designed to help children learn something valuable. I thought that tests were designed to assess whether they had learned it. What I did not realize was that educational materials are now governed by an intricate set of rules to screen out language and topics that might be considered controversial or offensive. Some of this censorship is trivial, some is ludicrous, and some is breathtaking in its power to dumb down what children learn in school.
Initially these practices began with the intention of identifying and excluding any conscious or implicit statements of bias against African Americans, other racial or ethnic minorities, and females, whether in tests or textbooks, especially any statements that demeaned members of these groups. These efforts were entirely reasonable and justified.