Altered or deleted text is in bold.

Ernesto Galarza’s1 memoir, Barrio Boy.

"My pals in the second grade were Kazushi, whose parents spoke only Japanese; a skinny Italian boy; and Manuel, a fat Portugese who would never get into a fight but wrestled you to the ground and just sat on you."
"My pals in the second grade were Kazushi, whose parents spoke only Japanese; a thin Italian boy; and Manuel, a heavy Portugese who would never get into a fight but wrestled you to the ground and just sat on you."

"Almost tiptoeing across the office, I maneuvered myself to keep my mother between me and the gringo lady."
"Almost tiptoeing across the office, I maneuvered to keep my mother between me and the American lady."

"Off the school grounds we traded the same insults we heard from our elders. On the playground, we were sure to be marched up to the principal’s office for calling someone a wop, a chink, a dago, or a greaser." (After describing the school as "not so much a melting pot as a griddle where Miss Hopley and her helpers warmed knowledge into us and roasted social hatreds out of us.")
"Off the school grounds we traded the same insults we heard from our elders. On the playground, we were sure to be marched up to the principal’s office for calling someone a bad name."

Annie Dillard’s memoir, An American Childhood.

"From the nearest library, I learned every sort of surprising thing—some of it, though not much of it—from the books themselves.

"The Homewood branch of Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Library system was in a Negro section of townHomewood. This branch was our nearest library; Mother drove me to it every two weeks for many years, until I could drive there myself. I only very rarely saw other white people there."

"Beside the farthest wall, and under leaded windows set ten feet from the floor, so that no human being could ever see anything from them—next to the wall, and at the farthest remove from the idle librarians at their curved wooden counter, and from the oak bench where my mother waited in her camel’s-hair coat chatting with the librarians or reading—stood the last and darkest and most obscure of the tall nonfiction stacks: NEGRO HISTORY and NATURAL HISTORY."

"The Field Book of Ponds and Streams was a shocker from beginning to end.

The greatest shock came at the end. "When you checked out a book from the Homewood Library, the librarian wrote your number on the book’s card and stamped the due date on the book’s last page. When I checked out The Field Book of Ponds and Streams for the second time, I noticed the book’s card. It was almost full. There were numbers on both sides. My hearty author and I were not alone in the world, after all. With us, and sharing our enthusiasm for dragonfly larvae and single-celled plants were, apparently, many Negro adults."2

Isaac Bashevis Singer’s memoir, In My Father’s Court.

"Our home had little contact with Gentiles. The only Gentile in the house was the janitor. Fridays he would come for a tip, his ‘Friday money.’ He remained standing at the door, took off his hat, and my mother gave him six groschen.

"Besides the janitor there were also the Gentile washwomen who came to the house to fetch our laundry. My story is about one of these.

"She was a small woman, old and wrinkled. When she started washing for us she was already past seventy. Most Jewish women of her age were sickly, weak, broken in body. All the old women in our street had bent backs and leaned on sticks when they walked. But this washwoman, small and thin as she was, possessed a strength that came from generations of peasant forebears."

The washwoman cleaned "featherbed covers, pillowcases, sheets, and the men’s fringed garments. Yes, the Gentile woman washed these holy garments as well."

(The following material was deleted completely from the exam.)

"And now at last the body, which had long been no more than a broken shard supported only by the force of honesty and duty, had fallen. The soul passed into those spheres where all holy souls meet, regardless of the roles they played on this earth, in whatever tongue, of whatever creed. I cannot imagine Eden without this washwoman. I cannot even conceive of a world where there is no recompense for such effort."

Note: The assigned essay topic is "the nature of human dignity."

Samuel Hazo’s "Strike Down the Band"

"The hunger for beauty, like the hunger for music and knowledge and God, is part of our very natures."

"Like poetry, music puts us in touch with our feelings and through our feelings, with our very souls."

"I contend that nothing promotes the general welfare and seeks the blessings of peace better than the arts—even more than religions, which, for some reason in our time, tend more toward divisiveness than unity."

Elie Wiesel’s essay, "What Really Makes Us Free."

"Man, who was created in God’s image, wants to be free as God is free: free to choose between good and evil, love and vengeance, life and death."

Frank Conroy’s memoir, Stop-Time.

"’Let’s go swimming. I know a rock pit back in the woods. It’s got an island in the middle.’ ‘Okay. I’ll have to get my bathing suit.’ ‘Hell, you don’t need a suit. There’s nobody around.’"
"’Heck, you don’t need a suit. There’s nobody around.’"

(The following material was deleted completely from the exam.)

"It was easy to undress. We wore only blue jeans. I remember a mild shock at the absence of anything but air against my skin."
"If we saw a king snake, all six feet wrapped black and shiny in the shade of a palmetto, we’d break off a pine branch and kill it, smashing the small head till the blood ran."
"Neither of us knew exactly what it was, accepting it nevertheless as proof that the unbelievable act had taken place. We hid our ignorance from each other, making oblique wisecracks to cover it up." (On finding a used condom in the woods where couples park.)

B.B. King’s autobiography, Blues All Around Me.3

"My great-grandmother, who’d also been a slave, talked about the old days. She’d She would talk about the beginnings of the blues. She said that, sure, singing helped the day go by. Singing about sadness unburdens your soul. But the blues hollerers shouted about more than being sad. They were also delivering messages in musical code. If the master was coming, you might sing a hidden warning to the other field hands. Maybe you’d want to get out of his way or hide. That was important for the women because the master could have anything he wanted. If he liked a woman, he could take her sexually. And the woman had only two choices: Do what the master demands or kill herself. There was no in-between. The blues could warn you what was coming. I could see the blues was about survival."

"As a child, I stuttered. What was inside couldn’t get out. I’m still not real fluent. I don’t know a lot of good words. If I were wrongfully accused of a crime, I’d have a tough time explaining my innocence. I’d stammer and stumble and choke up until the judge would throw me in jail. Words aren’t my friends. Music is. Sounds, notes, rhythms. I talk through music."

A speech by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to the Commonwealth Club of California.

Polls "show strong American support for the organization at the grass-roots level regardless of what is said and done on Capitol Hill."

"The United States is the biggest debtor, as is well known."

Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird.

"If you can get their speech mannerisms right, you will know what they’re wearing and driving and maybe thinking, and how they were raised, and what they feel. You need to trust yourself to hear what they are saying over what you are saying. At least give each of them a shot at expression: sometimes what they are saying and how they are saying it will finally show you who they are and what is really happening. Whoa—they’re not getting married after all! She’s gay! And you had no idea!"

"An Upheaval," by Anton Chekhov.

"A maid-servant came into the room.
‘Liza, you don’t know why they have been rummaging in my room?’ the governess asked her.
‘Mistress has lost a brooch worth two thousand,’ said Liza.
‘Yes, but why have they been rummaging in my room?’
‘They’ve been searching every one, miss. They’ve searched all my things, too. They stripped us all naked and searched us . . . . God knows, miss, I never went near her toilet-table, let alone touching the brooch. I shall say the same at the police-station.’
‘But . . . why have they been rummaging here?’ the governess still wondered.
‘A brooch has been stolen, I tell you. The mistress [She]
has been rummaging in everything with her own hands. She even searched Mihailo, the porter, herself. It’s a perfect disgrace!"

Note: The ellipses are Chekhov’s; the essay topic is "the nature of human dignity."

Works altered by the New York State Education Department on English Language Arts Regents Exams

Edward Abbey, Desert Solitude (1/01)
Mortimer J. Adler, "How to Mark a Book" (from How to Read a Book) (6/01)
Kofi Annan, Speech to the Commonwealth Club of California, April 20, 1998 (8/01)
Roger Ascham, "Toxophilus" (1/00)
Anton Chekhov, "An Upheaval" (6/01)
Frank Conroy, Stop-Time (6/00)
Annie Dillard, An American Childhood (8/01)
Ernesto Galarza, Barrio Boy (6/99)
Samuel Hazo, "Strike Down the Band" (8/00)
John Holt, Learning All the Time (6/99)
June Jordan, "Ah, Momma" (8/99)
B.B. King, Blues All Around Me (6/00)
Anne Lamott, "Dialogue"(from Bird by Bird) (1/01)
William Maxwell, So Long, See You Tomorrow (6/00)
Chuck Noll, "Staying the Best" (1/00)
Lise Pelletier, "Life As It Is In Pinegrove Correctional Centre on a Monday Morning" (4/00)
Carol Saline, Mothers and Daughters (8/99)
Isaac Bashevis Singer, In My Father’s Court (6/01)
Margaret A. Whitney "Playing to Win"(8/00)
Elie Wiesel, "What Really Makes Us Free"(4/00)

Note: In addition to relatively lengthy passages from these works, each exam contains a brief quotation in a section called a "Critical Lens." Of these, 6 are labeled "adapted," without an indication of what changes have been made, one is adapted without notation, and one is misattributed.

Works used with minor alterations (but without indication of changes)

Annie Dillard, The Writing Life (1/01)
Dale Fetherling "The Sounds of Silence" (8/99)
Jack London, "The Story of an Eyewitness"(1/00)
Lynn Sherr, Failure Is Impossible (4/01)

Works used without alteration:

Roger Jack, "The Pebble People" (1/02)


1 Erroneously identified on the exam as Ernesto Gallarzo.

2 The relevance of race to the passage becomes obvious in the last paragraph quoted in the exam:


"The people of Homewood, some of whom lived in visible poverty, on crowded streets among burned-out houses-they dreamed of ponds and streams. They were saving to buy microscopes. In their bedrooms they fashioned plankton nets. But their hopes were even more vain than mine, for I was a child, and anything might happen; they were adults, living in Homewood. There was neither pond nor stream on the streetcar routes. The Homewood residents whom I knew had little money and little free time. The marble floor was beginning to chill me. It was not fair."

3 The exam includes passages from six chapters presented to students as a single "speech."