Jonah, your posts are so interesting and provocative, I’m afraid you prevent me from working. What you say about education put me in mind of something, immediately. I’ll quote from a column I wrote last November:
Some years ago, I was interviewing Marilyn Horne, the great mezzo-soprano. . . . She was decrying the state of music education in the schools, and saying how there was not nearly enough money available. Instead of arguing with her — I was the interviewer, after all — I asked her about her own music education, the schooling she obtained when she was growing up in Bradford, Pa. Oh, it was wonderful, she said. The principal of the school was the music teacher, too, and they had their music lessons down in the basement, with just a pitchpipe — nothing else. Not even a piano. But, boy, did they learn.
And I remarked, “That did not take much money, did it?” She agreed. What it took was the care and consideration of the teacher: a desire to transmit something important, or at least delightful. I think of this story almost every time the subject of money and the schools — per-pupil spending and so on — is raised. Money is great, indispensable. So are other things.