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.