deeds. For today’s would-be heroes, it’sngrab your “cap” and carpe diem. Or, asnstated in Magic’s old Nike commercials,n”Just do it!”n— Theodore PappasnPUBLISHERS WEEKLY (PublishersnWeakly in my book), though it isnone of the most depressing magazinesnin America, obviously considers itself ansprightly, thoughtful, and somewhatn”irreverent” publication, gifted withnthe insight to see that the emperor hasnno clothes on and blessed with thencourage to stand forward and say so. Innthe bold tradition of Jeremiah and St.nPaul, Voltaire and Swift, Samuel Butlernand H.L. Mencken, Mailer andnVonnegut and Donahue, PW (as it isnknown affectionately in the trade) performednthe daring and unprecedentednact of placing on the cover of itsnnumber for September 27, 1991, “AnnOpen Letter to President Bush,”nwhich said in part, “Dear Mr. President:nBecause you have made educationnpolicy an important part of yournadministration . . . [w]e urge you tonread a startling and disturbing newnbook. Savage Inequalities by JonathannKozol, due shortly from CrownnPublishing. … It is the story of how,nin our public schools, we are creating ancountry profoundly different from thenone our founders envisaged. It is thenstory of two nations that are separatenand unequal in their educational facilities,nand tells how this unfair imbalancenhas been largely created and maintainednby the inequitable distribution ofnpublic funds. Clearly, something mustnbe done about American education,nbut too often those who work to reformnit do so through notions of ‘choice’ andn’competition,’ market terms that havenno place in a debate on the needs ofnour poor children. In the end, there isnno doubt that we will have to spendnmoney, and a lot of it, to bring genuinenequality to our schools.” This letternwas succeeded on the following twonpages by excerpts from Kozol’s book,nand on the third by a special editorialnby the editor in chief, John F. Baker,nwho endorsed both the letter andnKozol and called for “a coordinated,nindustry-wide program” in which publishersncan work to help solve the crisisnof educational inequality in America.nThat’s called sticking your neck but.n(Who says literary folk are naturalncowards?) It would help, though, ifnthere were a brainpan at the end of it.nJudging from the excerpts selected bynPW, I would have to say that Kozol’snbook rests on politically directed emo­ntionalism, not on sustained, analyticalnargument. Both Kozol and Baker dismissnthe premise of the Bush administration’snAmerica 2000: An EducationnStrategy that, “Excellent schools don’tnhave to cost more.” If that is so. Bakerndemands, “then why is so much moneynconsistently being spent on thenbetter ones?” as Kozol implies that it is.nThe answer to that question, of course,nis, “How much better are the ‘better’nschools?” The SAT scores, along withnthe rest of the national statistics, say,n”not much.” High school studentsnwho cannot locate their home state onna map are not restricted to the innercitynschools. In 19th-century America,none-room schoolhouses such as thosenin which Laura Ingalls Wilder taughtn(and was taught) routinely producednstudents whose knowledge of mathematics,nhistory, geography, and literaturenwas greatly superior to that of mostnpublic high school teachers today,nthough they were expected to providentheir own pencils and slates and oftennread their lessons out of the same bookntheir seatmates used. The question isnnot whether black and white pupilsnlearn in the company of one another,nbut whether anyone learns anything atnall. Ah, well (we old book-review handsnmay say), PW’s forte isn’t educationalnpolicy, but at least its heart is in thenright place. And where do you supposenthat would be? “In the end, there is nondoubt that we will have to spend money,nand a lot of it.”nYou have to understand that thenAmerican book publishing industry isnon the ropes at the start of the recessiven90’s, having blown huge sums of moneynin the prosperous 80’s in the attemptnto make like Trump Enterprises.n(It wasn’t just the purveyors of videonequipment, home computers, and junknbonds who succumbed to corporatenhubris in what Jonathan Kozol callsn”the Reagan era.”) Huge advancesnpaid to “authors” like Stephen King tonprevent them from signing with thencompetition ultimately could not benearned out, since the finite expansionnof chain stores like B. Dalton andnWaldenbooks was necessarily unable tonnnkeep pace with the infinite greed ofnwriters and their agents.nMany publishing houses mergednwith one another; many more, likenSimon & Schuster and RandomnHouse, were purchased by vast conglomeratesnwhose directors knew (andnstill know) nothing of publishing, letnalone of books that they regard as sonmany marketable units like cars orntubes of toothpaste. As a result of thesenchanges, a different type of person wasndrawn into the publishing “industry.”nPublishers have always tended to bensecond-rate businessmen and third-ratenintellects, but at least they used to lovengood books and respect the people whonwrote them. Today, editors are increasinglynpeople whose formation is notnliterary but commercial and whose experiencenis in marketing and sales rathernthan in literature. To them. ThirdnAvenue is an easier, more glamorous,nand romantic version of Wall Street ornSunset Boulevard, allowing you tondrink all night with Norman Mailer ornvisit the discos with Jay Mclnerney, getnto the office at eleven, and take AlicenWalker or Jonathan Kozol to lunch atnthe Four Seasons at noon. In presentdaynpublishing, very few manuscriptsnare actually read, most “editing” isndone by freelancers, very little talent orneven competence is applied to verynlittle work, and hardly any money isnmade. Indeed, a great deal of it is lost.nHaving long ago forgotten what oughtnto be their main goal — namely, thenacquisition and publishing of goodnbooks — publishers today have literallynno idea what they are doing, or evennwhat they want to do. As for thenschoolbook departments, they are confrontednwith declining school enrollmentsnand increasing illiteracy and ignorancenon the part of faculties as wellnas of their student bodies. In responsento the situation, school publishers investnlarge sums in audios and videosnand other “learning aids,” while theirntrade-book counterparts search diligentlynfor Stephen King imitators andncelebrities willing to cooperate withnghostwriters to produce “intimate autobiographies,”nand hope everythingnturns out for the best.nMeaning, of course, that they maynmake a lot of money. Publishers Weeklynand John F. Baker are coy about this,ntrying to vitiate accusations of selfinterestnby anticipating them. “WenMARCH 1992/9n