It’s always nice to read something other than the teacher bashing and bubble test pedaling of the corporate education reformers. So, here are a couple good articles about reforms that actually work and what the United States would really have to do to get there (hint: it’s going to take more than firing teachers and a bubble test).
The article is from Britain but describes how Finland has come to dominate the world of education:
All students in Finland receive a free education from when they start at seven years of age until they complete their university studies. As a result 80 per cent of Finns attend university. During their educational journey all pupils receive free school meals, resources and materials, transport and support services.
Professional Learning Communities are integral to sharing and spreading good practice in a collaborative manner. The systematic introduction of languages is also striking and very effective. Pupils will often begin learning a third language by 11 years of age and some a fourth at 13.
A no child is left behind approach means that all classes contain a mixture of ability level pupils, with most classes containing two or more teachers who focus on those needing additional support. By having professionals working in conjunction, the needs of the pupils can be better met within a happy and familiar environment. Many teachers also stay with a single class for many years, moving with them through the school.
From the Washington Post, what the United States must do if it ever hopes to achieve equity in education. Again, the example is Finland:
The following three issues require particular attention.
Funding of schools: Finnish schools are funded based on a formula guaranteeing equal allocation of resources to each school regardless of location or wealth of its community.
Well-being of children: All children in Finland have, by law, access to childcare, comprehensive health care, and pre-school in their own communities. Every school must have a welfare team to advance child happiness in school.
Education as a human right: All education from preschool to university is free of charge for anybody living in Finland. This makes higher education affordable and accessible for all.
As long as these conditions don’t exist, the Finnish equality-based model bears little relevance in the United States.
There needs to be some fundamental shifts in how this country values education before any meaningful reforms can take place. Unfortunately, the corporate reformers ignore these shifts and dabble around the edges so they don’t have to address the real problems facing education in the United States.