Regents exam political cartoon stirs controversy

A question and its related political cartoon on a New York state Global History and Geography Regents examination has many in the Jewish community angered and concerned.

Question No. 37 on the exam administered to high school students last Tuesday depicts three soldiers -- one with a Star of David on his back. There is a thought bubble that says, "I knew this peace table would come in handy someday," referring to a table the soldiers are hiding behind.

The exam asked students to take a look at the cartoon and choose which option best describes the main idea.

The choices are: "Peace talks have led to a cease-fire;" "The conflict nears an end;" "Negotiations have failed;" and "Key groups have been brought to the peace table."

But the question has outraged people throughout the Jewish community, who say it is anti-Israeli propaganda. State Assemblyman Dov Hikind called the cartoon unacceptable.

The Education Department defended the question as a measure of students' abilities to think critically.

"This question measures the students' ability to analyze a political cartoon, critically examine the cartoonist's point of view and apply that information to the questions being asked," a state Education Department spokesperson said in a statement. "Political cartoons contained on Regents exams are sometimes very pointed and thought provoking, but they are never intended to represent the point of view of the Board of Regents or the Education Department on a given issue."

News 12 is told that the Education Department reviews and edits each question submitted by teachers. Committees of teachers then review and comment on the test items before they are field-tested again ahead of inclusion on an operational exam.

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