Pilot Letter: Focus on special learners

https://www.pilotonline.com/opinion/letters/vp-ed-leta-0923-20190923-r2b7ldp4ubf4bj3vw2i3xgr2eq-story.html

The writer brings attention to an interesting puzzle.

Any distribution of human talent will describe a bell curve, with 20% on the right being gifted and 20% on the left being not-gifted. The 60% in the middle are neither gifted nor not-gifted. How should society allocate finite resources (money) to best develop the talent in question?

There are three basic options, but two of them are inherently unfair:

  • Option A. Spend all the money on one of the three groups and none on the other two. This is clearly unfair.
  • Option B. Split the money among the groups according to some ratio. This really is a variation of the first option. No matter the ratio you come up with (20/60/20, 40/50/10, 10/50/40, etc.) one or more of the groups (possibly all three) will be treated unfairly.
  • Option C. Don’t allocate the money to this particular need at all. There being no equitable way to distribute the money, use it for something else.

The puzzle doesn’t pose a choice between right and wrong. It poses is a choice between doing badly and doing nothing.

As it applies to public education, we need more options in the “do nothing” category.

9 thoughts on “Pilot Letter: Focus on special learners

  1. Or… determine a minimum+ allocation that provides the “not-so-gifted” the best opportunity to become productive, independent members of society. Spend an equal allocation on the “most gifted”, and then twice that on those in the middle.

    Oh dear, that’s too much money! Raise taxes. If we can spend $50,000/student/year on Military K-12 then we can spend that same amount on the rest since all other K-12 State systems are LESS than $20,000/student/year.

    So far, the allocation has all been to the military (our very own society within a society).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “As it applies to public education, we need more options in the “do nothing” category.” Clearly some of us graduated in that category.

    You get the future you buy, or you get the one given to you by those who do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: “So, we stop funding education and, what, only rich kids get to go to school?”

      I doubt that would happen. Besides, as stated, that’s not the choice we’re actually dealing with.

      Like

      1. RE: “Help me understand what you mean by ‘As it applies to public education, we need more options in the ‘do nothing’ category.”

        I mean that education is not something that can be publicly funded in any way that is fair or equitable. We should therefore just stop doing it.

        There are many ways public policy and spending can be beneficial to education without directly funding it. An extreme example would be clean water, but there are others. A public park is a natural biology lab. A public athletic field is a place to learn team sports. A public library is a source of textbooks. And so on.

        I am arguing for a shift in how we think about this issue.

        Like

        1. “So, we stop funding education and, what, only rich kids get to go to school?”

          “I mean that education is not something that can be publicly funded in any way that is fair or equitable. We should therefore just stop doing it.”

          Wow, you sure go out of the way to say, “Yes.” But, that’s okay. It just means that my grandkids will own yours.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. So, if we can’t do something perfectly we shouldn’t even bother? That’s pretty convenient for someone whose worldview is actively hostile to public goods.

          Should the same rationale be applied to police and military spending? How about the enforcement of property rights or contract law?

          Like

        3. RE: “So, if we can’t do something perfectly we shouldn’t even bother?”

          That’s not the choice we face. As stated, there are plenty of things government can do which benefit everyone, regardless of individual location on any given bell curve. Safe drinking water is one. Public libraries are another. And so on. Education, however, is not such a thing. It is not in that category.

          Were I in favor of social justice, I would not support the creation of a complex and expensive sytem that I knew in advance would become unjust, even at times harmful, to those who participate in it. Yet that is exactly what we have done in the case of public education. Its past time to start thinking clearly about this.

          Like

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