What do dinosaurs, birthdays, and poverty have in common?

They're just three examples from a list of common concepts and/or words barred from standardized testing in the New York City Department of Education. References to dinosaurs may prove offensive to those who do not accept evolution, while birthdays are excluded because Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate them. Poverty gets the boot because words that imply wealth, or, well poverty, may cause some students to feel excluded.

Other excluded ideas include "divorce" and "disease", sparing students who may have family going through those situations.

School officials say they are only trying to show sensitivity to a diverse school population. But some education commentators say the ban may do more harm than good. Core Knowledge Foundation spokesperson Robert Pondiscio notes that the ban on common ideas and words means that students no longer can draw on life experiences when taking tests.

Of course, no one wants to offend any individual or group, especially during the education process. But I've always thought one of the strengths of schools was that students were forced to interact with a variety of people, who may or may not believe the same things they did.

Is the new New York City policy over the top? Or should individual identity be respected, no matter what? Jump in with an opinion, here or on our Facebook page.

[huffingtonpost.com/nypost.com]