Month: October 2014
Ten Years Behind
by Ron French and Chastity Pratt Dawsey
State Superintendent Mike Flanagan has concluded that Michigan is “10 years behind” states with high-achieving schools.
In a blunt, at times stunningly self-critical review of his performance as schools chief, Flanagan told Bridge that his office was “perplexed” by Michigan’s poor performance on national tests, too slow to question the performance of charter schools and “frustrated” with the legislature. He said he wondered, after nine years as superintendent, whether he’d overstayed his welcome and reduced his influence with political leaders.
“I’m the longest-serving state superintendent in the country,” said Flanagan, who took office in 2005. “I think the sweet spot is about six years. After that, it’s like a president after six years ‒ everyone hates you.”
On Michigan’s tepid performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which tests students in 4th and 8th-grade math and reading, Flanagan said, “It’s a mystery to me.”
“You can’t deny it,” he said of the scores, which now place Michigan among the lowest-ranking states nationally. But, he said, “I think that’s going to take care of itself” over time.
Do We Read Differently?
by Daniel Mendelsohn
When I reread “The Catcher in the Rye” a few years ago, I was unmoved by the emotional ferocity that had enthralled me in 1974.
Halfway through the American classic “The Catcher in the Rye,” Holden Caulfield, the emotionally fragile teenage hero, who is by this point well on his way to a nervous collapse, finds solace in a visit to the Museum of Natural History in New York City, where he gazes longingly at the life-size dioramas of Native American life. What appeals to him isn’t anything anthropological; rather, it’s the fact that the “life” within the elaborately detailed displays is frozen — comfortingly, to him — in time:
“The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. . . . You could go there a hundred thousand times, and that Eskimo would still be just finished catching those two fish, . . . and that squaw with the naked bosom would still be weaving that same blanket. Nobody’d be different. The only thing that would be different would be you.”