In the “Oddly Enough” category:

In a feat of literary sleuth work, Ms. Heifetz, the mother of a high school senior and a weaver from Brooklyn, inspected 10 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, Anton Chekhov 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.
In an excerpt from the work of Mr. Singer, for instance, all mention of Judaism is eliminated, even though it is so much the essence of his writing. His reference to “Most Jewish women” becomes “Most women” on the Regents, and “even the Polish schools were closed” becomes “even the schools were closed.” Out entirely goes the line “Jews are Jews and Gentiles are Gentiles.” In a passage from Annie Dillard’s memoir, “An American Childhood,” racial references are edited out of a description of her childhood trips to a library in the black section of town where she is almost the only white visitor, even though the point of the passage is to emphasize race and the insights she learned about blacks.
The State Education Department, which prepares the exams, acknowledged modifying excerpts to satisfy elaborate “sensitivity review guidelines” that have been in use for decades, but are periodically revised. It said it did not want any student to feel ill at ease while taking the test.

Nor, it may be added, did the Education Department want to risk actually teaching students about any view, race, gender, or sexual orientation other than their own.

The Elderly Man and the Sea? Test Sanitizes Literary Texts (requires registration)

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