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Making Money Matter: Financing America's Schools
swers to the "adequacy of what" question. Interpreted this way, adequacy might be viewed as requiring an allocation of educational resources sufficient to guarantee to every student a minimum set of these educational outcomes that are importantly connected to long term life prospects in our society.
In developing an alternative to Rawls's concept of distributive justice, Gutmann (1987) provided a possible approach to answering the "how much" adequacy question and thereby a means for overcoming equality of opportunity's second limitation, the absence of a principle for establishing levels of achievement or permissible differences in achievement. Unlike Rawls, whose definition of distributive justice featured distributive rules intended to provide an equal opportunity for everyone to pursue a self-chosen plan of life, Gutmann's definition gives greater attention to the value of a democratic society in which decisions are made deliberatively and collectively. Therefore she emphasizes a so-called democratic threshold principle for education, which claims that "inequalities in the distribution of education goods can be justified if, but only if, they do not deprive any child of the ability to participate effectively in the democratic process (which determines, among other things, the priority of education relative to other social goods)" (p. 136). The idea of a democratic threshold at least conceptually addresses the issue of achievement levels ignored by the equality of opportunity approach, and it provides in general terms an anchor for answering the question of "how much" adequacy.
Suggestive as Rawls's primary goods and Gutmann's democratic threshold principle are, however, they provide far from precise answers to the "adequacy of what" and "how much" questions. They point, though, to some of the issues that will arise in seeking greater precision.
To facilitate the discussion, we develop a shorthand whereby we view "adequacy of what?" as a question of qualitative adequacy and "how much" as a question of quantitative adequacy. To apply adequacy to school finance requires figuring out where to set the absolute level of this "bar" called adequacy: how broad or narrow should the bar be (qualitative adequacy) and how high or low should it be (quantitative adequacy)?
Qualitative adequacy involves decisions about what educational opportunities are most directly and powerfully related to the "primary goods" society wishes to distribute fairly among its citizens. These are usually issues of curriculum. Opportunities to become proficient in reading or math might be seen as central. Opportunities to participate in art or physical education might be viewed as more peripheral. The availability of swimming pools or carpeted classrooms might be regarded as unrelated to ultimate life chances. It is not hard to imagine, however, that people will disagree about where to draw the lines, both because they have differing values and because the relationship between opportunities and life chances may be different for different individuals in different circumstances.
Similarly, quantitative adequacy is likely to lend itself to differing interpreta-