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'Bureaucrats censor Christ' claim over NSW school texts

"Before Christ" (BC) has been removed from literacy test history books and replaced with "Before Common Era" (BCE) in what the NSW Opposition described as political correctness gone mad.

The Daily Telegraph reports that about 150,000 students who sat through the English Language and Literacy Assessment (ELLA) test on Tuesday were confronted with the new term in an extract entitled "The Surveyor's Problem".

It described an event which took place in 590 BCE in Northern Egypt where a Government surveyor had been ordered by the Pharaoh to find out why the Nile River kept flooding.

A footnote to the extract explained BCE means "Before Common Era" (also known as BC).

The term BC has long been used in normal language as an historical and scientific chronology guide. The BCE footnote is used in international scientific, academic and museum contexts.

Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt has ordered the department to restore the original text.

However, Opposition education spokeswoman Jillian Skinner said it was just another example of the Carr Government's political correctness.

"It appears that 'Before Christ' has been written out of our history books by the Department of Education in the Carr Government," Mrs Skinner said. "This is political correctness gone mad. You ask the average mum and dad out there how they refer to time and calendars, they will use Before Christ [BC]."

Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt agreed the extract originally used 'BC' but it had been changed to 'BCE.'

"My own view is that the text should not have been changed," Ms Tebbutt told Parliament. "It should have been left as 'BC' with a footnote explaining that 'BCE' is an alternative.

'Mad' bureaucrats censor Jesus Christ (Daily Telegraph 3/3/05)

NSW Department of Education and Training | English Language and Literacy Assessment

'Before Christ' replaced in books (Herald-Sun 2/3/05)
Historic shift from BC far too PC, Opposition says (Sydney Morning Herald 3/3/05)
Literacy test sparks political correctness debate (ABC 2/3/05)

3 Mar 2005