Censorship: The ELA Exposed
Examples of Literary Works Altered on the New York State Regents English Literary Arts Exams in June and August, 2002
The June 2002 Exam
1. In a passage from "Surviving the Dust Bowl,"from the PBS series, The American Experience, the following material was deleted:
The researchers found that among the 6th graders--who were 11 to 12 years old--puberty had a significant influence on the change to the pattern of sleeping late and rising late. Psychosocial factors such as academic and social demands had far less to do with that shift than the researchers had expected. But this pattern was only significant in girls. Carskadon and her team presume that the gender difference stems from a higher percentage of girls in the study group having matured more fully than the boys.
3. In a short story by Isaac Asimov, True Love, sentences were removed and changed from the original, without indication.
The August 2002 Exam
1. Day One, Part One (the "Listening" section):
Deleted material includes descriptions of illness, violence and death, such as:
2. Day One, Part Two: The "Reading for Information" question came from an article in U.S. News and World Report on salvage of shipwrecks. The article was edited for length, which does not explain the deletion of the terms "male menopause," the "sex appeal" of an expedition associated with Blackbeard, or "an antique syringe, which Blackbeard's crew may have used to inject themselves with mercury, the cure du jour for syphilis in 1718."
Students are asked to write an essay about the merits of private salvage, but some of the information most relevant to this question was deleted. Several omissions are not indicated with ellipses, and the title of the article was altered from the original.
3. Day Two, Part One: The "Compare and Contrast" Essay: The exam uses the last two paragraphs of a six-paragraph essay by Aldous Huxley, Time and the Machine. The altered passage now begins with the sentence: "This brings us to a seeming paradox." Students cannot know what "this" refers to, without the preceding paragraphs. Compounding the problem, students are asked to answer a question about what the "paradox" refers to.
(Prior paragraphs were plainly deleted to avoid references to ethnic groups, such as: "Our notion of time as a collection of minutes, each of which must be filled with some business or amusement, is wholly alien to the Oriental, just as it was wholly alien to the Greek. For the man who lives in a pre-industrial world, time moves at a slow and easy pace...." )
4. Day Two, Part Two: The "Critical Lens." A comparison of the original quotation from Kafka, and the Regents' version, speaks for itself: