TOC: Word Control - Schools Ban The Word 'Gun'
Socialistic Stupidity Reaches A New High
By Sarah Ruttan - The Ottawa Citizen
The word gun was banned from spelling tests in one school only and not across the Upper Canada District School Board, board officials said Tuesday.
Terry Simzer, the Brockville-based board's public relations officer, said the word was removed from Grade 1 spelling lists at Lombardy Public School where a complaint originated from a parent, not from all schools as had been widely reported.
"The (complainant) and the teacher had an amicable meeting and it was agreed to remove the word from the spelling list,'' Simzer said Tuesday.
"It's up to the principals at other schools to decide whether that word is in use or not.''
Simzer said earlier news reports of the word's removal from all schools across the board had the board scrambling to clarify its position on the matter.
The whole thing started when Chloe Sousa, 7, brought home from Lombardy Public School a list of 10 words to learn. Each Friday her class is tested on these words. By last week, the class had worked its way through the alphabet to the letter G.
Amanda and Mark Sousa, who consider themselves to be pacifists and who are raising their two young children with this governing belief, were shocked when Amanda's spelling list last week included the word gun.
"I realize people hunt in this area, but I still don't think that warrants the teaching of this word to my daughter or any other child," said Mrs. Sousa.
The Sousas relocated to tiny Lombardy, about an hour west of Ottawa near Smiths Falls, from Kingston, where Mr. Sousa still works, to be closer to family.
Mrs. Sousa wrote a letter to her daughter's teacher describing her views on the word gun, her unease with any child learning to spell the word, a few alternatives, and the wish to speak to the teacher about its inclusion on the list.
"The word gun is synonymous with death. I'm racking my brain trying to figure out why a seven-year-old would need to learn this word," said Mrs. Sousa, who admits she was hesitant to bring her views forward for fear of backlash from the school toward her daughter, and because some may view her problem with the word gun as another political correctness issue gone too far.
"For a split second I considered whether or not I should raise this issue, but I knew I had to stand up for what I believe in. This was not right," she said.
"I don't think this is an issue of political correctness. It's an issue of protecting your child from violence. Guns are violent. End of story," said Mrs. Sousa.
The Sousas did not hear from the teacher. Then Chloe was sent home later in the week, again with her list, which now came complete with pictures beside each word.
"It wasn't a water gun or a toy gun, it was a pistol," said Mr. Sousa.
"I was horrified that not only were we ignored, but now my daughter is carrying around a picture of a gun," he said.
Mrs. Sousa then decided it was time to call the school to speak to the principal.
Not long after she placed the telephone call yesterday, the teacher returned her call and apologized for the word being part of the test, as did Terry Simzer, a public relations specialist for the school board in which the Lombardy Public school belongs.
Mr. Simzer explained that the word gun had been in the curriculum for a number of years, but as of yesterday, gun has been removed from the spelling test because of the Sousas' complaint.
"I can't say how many years it's been used, but a number of years, yes," said Mr. Simzer, and he defended the word as being a good phonetic word and short vowel word that is easy for young readers to learn.
"We do appreciate the sensitivity around the word, especially in these times, and have taken the word from the list because of this parent's complaint," he said.
"But children do hear this word every day on the news, particularly about blank registration - I don't want to say the word so I don't offend anybody," added Mr. Simzer.
"We are quite happy that the whole matter has been resolved and the word will no longer be included in our curriculum."
Although the Sousas remain disappointed the word was ever included in a Grade 1 spelling test, the family is happy with the outcome.
"Even after all of the obstacles I'm happy with the conclusion," said Mrs. Sousa.
"I accomplished what I set out to do and that was to have this word removed from my daughter's spelling list."
© Copyright 2003 The Ottawa Citizen.
Source: The Ottawa Citizen