Friday, September 22, 2006

Reading Ability

In response to this article on the reading skills of New Yorkers, we decided to interview Richard P. Mills, New York commissioner of Education to get all the Cold Hard Facts.

Cold Hard FactsMr. Mills your study found that the reading ability of New Yorkers is inversely proportional to age.
Richard P. Mills: Well sort of, but only after fifth grade. Let's start from the beginning.
CHF: The beginning?
RPM: We surgically implated various books of all reading levels into the wombs of 150 pregnant women and one hippy. Fifteen days later we implanted blue essay books and number 2 pencils, and asked the fetuses to each write a short essay describing their book. Results were disastrous.
CHF: In what way?
RPM: Apparently fetuses cannot read or write, but lawyers can. It seems, when in vivo, pencils and notebooks can do quite a bit of damage to both mother and fetus. As if we were supposed to realize that!
CHF: Yes what about after the New Yorker is born?
RPM: Well for the first four years of a baby's life he or she can't read anything at all. But around the fifth year a major breakthrough is achieved with the conquering of Pup Jumps in Mud by Bud Lumpkin or something similar. From there, Cat in the Hat is accomplished in first grade followed by Amelia Bedelia, Sheldon Silverstein's poems, and so on, up to the pinnacle of reading acuity around fifth grade when, the average student is able to read War and Peace.
CHF: War and Peace by Tolstoy?
RPM: Yes, although she can't actually understand any of it. But the average sixth grader can't even read War and Peace, let alone understand it and it all goes downhill from there.
CHF: How far?
RPM: By the time the average New Yorker enters graduate school, he could barely make out a single word in this blog.
CHF: That's Pretty bad. Is there any hope for New York?
RPM: Interestingly enough, if you only look at comic books and video game strategy guides, the average reading level increases year after year, at least among men. So I propose The New York department of Education make a first person shooter game called Tolstoy, and War and Peace would be it's strategy guide. That would pretty well cover the "War" part of it, anyway.
CHF: And for girls?
RPM: We'll make a "Peace" fashion magazine.

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