State Journal: Appendectomy; Gubernatorial classics

November 29, 1989 1 min read

When a private consulting group released a report on the Utah board of education this fall, it included some notably frank comments about the state superintendent, James R. Moss.

Mr. Moss is “strong, outspoken, decisive, abrasive, egocentric, and a results-based manager,” the report said.

“He is not afraid to be a lightning rod,” the study continued, adding that Mr. Moss “gets at desired ends by taking things apart.”

“‘Jim is a kamikaze, who shakes things up,”’ the report quoted an unnamed educator. “‘He doesn’t have the surgeon’s selectivity.”’

In its public report, the consulting group noted that it had considerably more to say about Mr. Moss, but had elected to put its additional observations in an appendix.

But board members, who have had stormy relations with the superintendent during his three years in office, apparently decided that the extra comments about him were a tad spicy for public consumption.

So the board has kept the appendix confidential, turning down requests from the press and a legislative committee even for a summary.

And this month, the board got a ruling from an assistant state attorney general that it had the right to withhold the appendix, even though it was prepared with public money.

State laws, the official concluded, prohibit the release of information on individual character and competence.

A recent survey of the nation’s governors suggests that the way to achieve political success in later life is by concentrating on reading the classics while young.

Polled on their favorite books as boys and girls, the governors most often cited Mark Twain’s immortal Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.

Also frequently mentioned were Treasure Island, Black Beauty, Charlotte’s Web, and Little Women.

Mario M. Cuomo of New York remembered reading the Roman Missal, while Joe Frank Harris of Georgia concentrated on the Bible.

Some of the choices seemed to reflect an uncommon seriousness for youngsters. William A. O’Neill of Connecticut liked All Quiet on the Western Front, and George Deukmejian of California favored The Making of the President.

But others seemed to hark back to an earlier, more innocent stage of their lives. Richard F. Celeste of Ohio picked Babar the Elephant, while Madeleine M. Kunin of Vermont fondly recalled Good Night, Moon and Make Way for Ducklings.

And not a comic book to be found.--hd

A version of this article appeared in the November 29, 1989 edition of Education Week as State Journal: Appendectomy; Gubernatorial classics