Only the best can teach in Finland

Teaching is an elite profession in Finland, reports the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

At the University of Helsinki, a mere 6.7% of those who applied to be primary school teachers were admitted this year to the education school.

That’s a lower acceptance rate than the 10% of applicants admitted to the University of Helsinki’s schools of law and medicine.

By comparison, the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee accepted 96% of undergraduate students who applied for the 2011 year, and 88% of post-baccalaureate applicants.

Marquette’s College of Education, which accepts only students who rank in the top third of their high school class, takes 63% of applicants.

Teachers in Finland make less in gross salary and pay more in taxes than the average American teacher. But it’s considered a prestigious profession that requires rigorous training.

Secondary teachers need a master’s degree in their subject. Elementary teachers must earn a master’s in a general education field.

Once in the profession, teachers have a lot of autonomy over their classroom. A national curriculum set by the local government – with input from the national teachers union – explains what should be learned but not how to teach it.

. . . “In Finland it’s very common for us to write our own textbooks or choose the methods and curriculum or textbooks we want to buy,” said Sepoo Nyyssönen, a philosophy teacher at Sibelius High School, an arts-based school in Helsinki.

All students are in the same classes from till age 16, when they decide between a college-prep school or three years of vocational training.

Via PDQ Blog.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Finland is vastly more homogeneous than the US and I’m betting that the geographic mobility is much less, so the school population is largely the same for all the years preceeding the vocational/college prep split and the same for each group thereafter. That’s a huge advantage over schools that do not have a stable population. Even if the curriculum and instruction are top-level (rarely), no one can successfully teach kids who aren’t there or who move several times a year and the frequent absences and frequent moves are the norm in many of our schools/districts. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t demand that teachers know their subject(s) cold or that we shouldn’t demand good curriculum and instructional method choices; quite the contrary. US-Finland comparisons are simply apples-to-oranges.

    • TotallyConsumed says:

      I’m not so sure one should dismiss the comparison as “apples-to-oranges”. Samuel Abrams (see article: The Children Must Play by Samuel Abrams), visiting scholar at Columbia University teachers college, compared Norway with Finland and found that like Finland, Norway is small and not especially diverse overall, but unlike Finland it has taken an approach to education that is more American than Finnish. The result? Mediocre performance in the PISA survey (very similar to the US).

      True, there are cultural and societal differences that impact educational achievement. But let’s not be hasty to throw out the baby with the bath water on this one. There really are things that we can learn from Norway’s educational system, even if some Americans are loathe to admit it.

      • I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Finland is less concerned with all of the educational fads which fill our colleges and k-12 systems with drivel, hot air, PC and BS and more concerned with serious academics, both for aspiring teachers and for their eventual students. That alone would be a big step forward.

  2. I’d be interested to know what private sector people in Finland make. If a doctor or lawyer makes a lot more than teachers, then all that prestige is useless. it’s nice to be recognized as important, but when gas is nearly $4.00 per gallon and nice homes are 200K or more, it’s important to be compensated as well as the private sector people.

    • Michael E. Lopez says:

      Well a quick spin around the ‘nets tells me that Doctors in Finland average about 40% of doctors’ salary in the US. Finland teacher salary apparently starts off (on average) around 80% of US teachers. That means the gap has to be much smaller.

      After a few years, teachers also get paid better in Finland when compared to the average college graduate of the country.

      Those are just statistics though — underlying methodologies weren’t available. Take them for what they are worth.

      I’d dispute the notion that prestige without money is useless, though. Social influence is its own kind of currency — a currency expressed in getting invited to the right parties, having the ear of the right people, and having access to certain types of media and information. These are things that money can buy, but for which money is not strictly necessary, and historically, in many societies, people have been willing to make the trade off. Even in the United States, college professors, for instance, are notorious for this sort of status-over-wealth preference.

      Set-ups like that attract a different kind of person, though. You have to ask yourself what kind of teachers you want to attract before you can properly calibrate your incentives to attract that kind of person. Right now, the profession is set up to attract, essentially, risk-averse conformists of “fair to middlin’” intellectual capacity and malleable moral character. (Not bad character — just malleable.) In other words, it attracts bureaucrats.

      That’s not to say that all teachers are like that, but rather, that’s the sort of person who will be most strongly attracted to the current set-up. If we want whiz-bang geniuses in the classrooms, you’re going to have to give whiz-bang geniuses what it is that whiz-bang geniuses generally want: recognition and the company of other whiz-bang geniuses. I think you’d be shocked at the ridiculously low levels of pay that super-smart people would be willing to accept if you could give them both of those things.

      (Finally, as an aside, I’m not really sure what the price of gas, or houses, or anything else has to do with the ratio of compensation between public and private sector workers. Surely there are arguments for parity, but the CPI is also surely not among them. It is, perhaps, an argument for some sort of “floor wage” though. Of course, raising salaries amidst inflation is its own special sort of problem.)

    • I’d be interested to know why there was a twenty to thirty year delay between the reforms made to the Finnish system, mentioned in the article, and Finland’s vaulting to the top of the international education sweepstakes.

      • What is the typical career length for teachers? Seems that there would be significant lag between the reforms and resulting success.

  3. Remember that the applicants to Marquette and U-W have to pass a test in order to be an applicant. The people who write this nonsense act as if the schools take any schmoe off the street. Ed schools have to follow the state content standards. And if you want the standards for teachers to improve, the proper place to go is the state, not ed schools. Too many eduformers are ignorant on this point.

    High school teachers are more than adequately smart and come from the middle or higher of the college grad distribution. Elementary school teachers probably come from the bottom third, but who cares? It’s not rocket science to teach 9 year olds. That’s why so many moms can homeschool.

    I think Finland’s standards are absurdly high, something they can do only because they don’t need to teach that many kids. Master’s in math and you want to be a high school teacher? Really? Finland doesn’t have anything better to do with its top graduates?

    Also, Finland tracks. Can we do that here, please?

    • Deirdre Mundy says:

      Tracking would probably attract higher quality teachers by making the work more pleasant. It’s easier to teach a class that’s all at the same level than to differentiate for a wide range of students in a 45 minute time period. Without tracking, you’re setting most teachers up for failure and despair. (I think this is why, for instance, math teachers tend to be pretty good. The work is more pleasant when you have a set subject with sensible goals in a natural order, and as long as a school doesn’t pass failing kids ahead, your algebra class will have “kids who are ready for algebra.”

      I do think narrower tracks would be better, though, since the intellectual differences between ’7th graders ready for Algebra’ and ’11th graders ready for algebra’ are usually big enough that the 7th graders can work through the subject much more quickly than the 11th graders can…..

      • Exactly; and this is why taking CC classes instead of APs doesn’t necessarily work well. The caliber of students matters a great deal. The top kids in my older kids’ MCPS HS rarely considered taking classes at Montgomery College; the kids at MC were generally nowhere near the intellectual level of the kids who took APs at Whitman, Churchill or Wootton HS, where the kids taking APs were competitive applicants for elite colleges.

        • Deirdre Mundy says:

          I had a friend who tool C++ at MC– it was an OK class in that she learned the programming language, but she was surprised at how easy it was to be the top student, compared to classes at our HS–which took hard work just to be ‘average’…

  4. Correction:

    ” Ed schools have to follow the state content standards. ”

    Ed schools have to make sure their teachers meet the state content knowledge standards.

  5. Deirdre Mundy says:

    Cal– but what about the research showing that teachers who are anxious about elementary school math pass that anxiety (and lowered achievement) onto the female students?

    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jan/26/science/la-sci-math26-2010jan26

    It may not be rocket science to teach phonics and elementary school math, but some of our teachers aren’t even capable of doing THAT well. (Also, I’d be interested to see the IQ distribution of moms who home school. In my experience, they tend to be smarter than the average elem. school teacher– but that might have more to do with my area and the poor schooling and job options available.

    Has any objective organization (HSLDA does NOT count) actually tried to gauge the education levels of homeschooling families?

  6. tim-10-ber says:

    I believe this is better article about why Finland is successful and what the US can do to hopefully achieve the same results in our schools…yes, the burden is on the schools, the teachers, etc. but look what Finland has done for the kids…

    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/what-americans-keep-ignoring-about-finlands-school-success/250564/

  7. Richard Aubrey says:

    I look at the Div I NCAA revenue sports coaches, and the coaches in the pro leagues and I don’t see anybody who was a big name playing.
    IOW, coaching and performing take different talents. Analogy alert for you literalist types.
    Now, once you know your subject–not always a given but mostly true for teachers–the question is teaching it. Do we know if the Finnish teachers are better than American teachers at getting the stuff across, after correcting for continuity, homogeneity, and other non-school issues?
    Does Finland allow the techniques that work–phonics, for example–or do they insist on cockamamie schemes that are demonstrably useless, like another country I could name?

    • Catherine says:

      This blog discusses the Finnish language and how it’s taught in the context of PISA scores: http://finnish-and-pisa.blogspot.com/
      Finnish is very phonetic, without English’s “rich” ability to express the same idea via five different words (e.g., regal, majestic, kingly, royal, sovereign, etc.). It appears that in Finland, Finnish is taught in a straightforward phonetic fashion.

      • I bet they use the metric system, which is much easier to learn and use than our system also.

  8. You think that’s a better article, the one from the Atlantic? Please.

    Dierdre, have you seen the test that elementary school teachers have to pass? California Multiple Subjects Math/Science Test

    If a teacher can pass that and still feel anxious about math, then it’s not about math competence and can’t be covered with content knowledge.

    And if you think that test is too easy for math through fifth grade, then, as I said, talk to the state about making it harder.

    ” but some of our teachers aren’t even capable of doing THAT well. ”

    Check your state. Check the test they had to pass in the past ten years. New teachers indeed have to do at least THAT well.

    Besides, there’s not really any good evidence that smart teachers lead to better educated kids.

    “In my experience, they tend to be smarter than the average elem. school teacher–”

    Oh, I’m sure they are, which is even more evidence that homeschooling moms are wasting their time. Their brains are better spent on something that someone with an IQ of 100 can do.

    “– but that might have more to do with my area and the poor schooling and job options available.”

    No, it’s to do with the fact that only moms who stay at home as a lifestyle choice with husbands who can pay for them, and this is, as a rule, a high IQ bunch. It didn’t use to be–lawyers used to marry secretaries, for example. But these days, lawyers marry other lawyers and then count their status coup by how quickly they go home and keep house, thus wasting the high IQ that got them the husband in the first place.

    But I digress.

    Check the cut scores on your state’s competency test. That’s what all teachers have had to pass for the past ten years. Then see if scores have gone up dramatically with this big new boost in teacher competency. Probably not.

    • Deirdre Mundy says:

      In Indiana, you only need to get a 165 on the “Elementary Education” Praxis to teach elementary school. The practice exam online does not go beyond basic fractions.

      • Deirdre Mundy says:

        So, a 165/200 with 20% of the score coming from Math means that a teacher could basically get a ZERO on the math and still pass the test.

        California may have tough standards. Not so for every other state.

        • Then pressure the state. Stop whining about ed schools. They’d get sued if they mandated higher content knowledge than the state did.

          But when you go to the state, they’re going to demand that you show evidence that smarter teachers get better results. Ooops.

          • The most respected ed school in my area does exactly that…everyone in my graduate classes had undergrad GPAs of 3.5 or above. No lawsuits.

    • I wouldn’t say that high IQ moms are wasting their time homeschooling… if they can do a better job than the public school, more power to them. Plus, who actually thinks we need more lawyers?

      As for tests, my opinion of the NY LAST (Liberal Arts and Sciences Test) is that is at best equivalent to the SAT in difficulty. If a person fails any part of the test they do not pass, but they are able to retake the failed portion only. While I was in the lobby prior to taking the test myself, I overheard one gentleman stating that it was his fifth time taking the exam, but he wasn’t worried because he had heard about individuals who had failed it more times before passing.
      True, an elementary teacher won’t have to worry about teaching geometry or algebra to 2nd graders, but if they are not intelligent or diligent enough to pass an exam that supposedly tests their ability in subjects that they have already learned, I question their ability to teach any organized subject whether its AP Chemistry or initial phonics.

      No, raising the entry standards for teachers isn’t the magic bullet to save education, but it would plug one of the many leaks we currently have in our system. Just because it won’t fix everything doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.

      • ” I question their ability to teach any organized subject whether its AP Chemistry or initial phonics.”

        Fine. You question their ability. Go find the simple research that correlates teacher test scores to student test scores. Go find the data that shows that two teachers, teaching the same ability students, have results that track to their own content knowledge ability.

        I’d love to see it. Last I saw, though, it didn’t exist.

        • Considering that most of the teacher cert exams test what I consider basic knowledge for any professional, failure indicates an inability to function in any professional environment, let alone teach. The exams are a low hurdle, and while they don’t guarantee success, they can predict failure pretty well.

          And if the data of two teachers is enough, I can send you past results of my classes and a colleague’s. My kids kicked his kids’ butts. The problem with your suggestion is that collecting and processing the data from enough teachers to make the study valid would be a Herculean task.

  9. Lightly Seasoned says:

    Gross salary and taxes are not meaningful comparison factors. In Finland, those higher taxes pay for a broad range of social services American teachers don’t enjoy — the media loves to spout about “golden” benefits packages, but those only exist in a few states. The average teacher in my state makes about $40k. That’s deceptive, though. In the urban areas, salaries range from about $38K to start up to about $72K (less about 6% to pension plus health insurance premiums), while in the rural areas the salary ranges from high teens to low 40′s at the top. The Finnish teachers are also not paying off student loans for those graduate degrees or for daycare. They are paid for their maternity leaves (many teachers are not — you get the six weeks, but you don’t get paid).

  10. Actually, Finland does not allow any tracking before age 15. Special education students are generally mainstreamed. And students are not retained. That last item is a big cost saving for the Finnish system.

    As far as the need for high quality teachers, it’s not just Finland. I know of no nation with high educational achievement that does not also high standards for their teachers. Within the US, if teacher quality were not an issue, then there would be a minimal performance difference between teachers from the top and bottom quartiles. In fact the difference is huge.

  11. Just out of curiosity:

    1) What are finlands demographics like? The impression I get is overwhelmingly White, very little variation in economic status, and almost no immigration.

    2) Has anyone compared American White students to Finland White students?

    • Deirdre Mundy says:

      I know there’s an old Alan Greenspan story where a Swedish diplomat says “In Sweden, we have almost no crime or poverty” and Greenspan replies “In America, we too have very little crime or poverty–among those descended from Swedes.”

      The Finnish-American pool is pretty small, but I’d imagine if you expanded the sample to “Scandinavian Americans”, you’d see results that compared to the Finns. I mean, is anyone REALLY worried about how well Minnesota Lutherans are doing? It seems like the big debate really centers on how to help recent immigrants and inner city kids from single parent homes.

      What I DON’T understand is it seems like we DO have education models that were designed to help poor children, and yet we don’t use them:

      1. Montessori worked wonders with poor children in Italy

      2. Catholic Schools in the US have helped poor children excel

      3. Jane Addams and Hull House targeted poor, sometimes feral immigrant kids.

      4. Various boarding schools took in kids from single parent homes (The Hershey School, Boys’ Town, etc.)

      5. If we want to ignore civil liberties, we also have the example of the orphan trains and the American Indian schools……

      None of these systems remotely resemble Finland, though. The problem we seem to have is the debate centers on “How can we make urban schools look more like suburban schools” when really, we should be asking “What works for students from poor homes with no dad?”

      • There’s also Zig Englemann’s Direct Instruction, which I believe showed remarkable results in previously low-performing Baltimore schools.

        Also, perhaps we might consider the issue of illegitimacy, its effects on kids and how we might try to discourage it. We’ve had forty years of data, and it’s pretty clear that the offspring of (now multiple generations) of very young, never-married, poorly-educated girls and absent/uninvolved/poorly-educated/ likely-criminal sperm donors are pretty much behind the 8-ball from the beginning. Maybe we ought to structure things to discourage, as opposed to financially enable, such behavior.

  12. It’s interesting that you should mention Swedish schools. In fact there is a large achievement gap between Sweden and Finland.http://www.economist.com/node/11477890 Norway, which has demographics similar to those found in Finland, also produces dismal results compared to Finland. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/guest-bloggers/what-norway-not-finland-tells.html

    I don’t know why people are so resistant to the idea that teacher quality is important. The evidence is overwhelming. Top quality teachers get much better results. Low quality teachers who excuse their own lack of effectiveness by suggesting that their students lack ability get poor results. http://www.50can.org/50can-university/article/opportunity-the-top-how-america%E2%80%99s-best-teachers-could-close-the-gaps-raise

    • I haven’t seen anyone resistant to the idea that teacher quality is important, although it’s not as important as people seem to think.

      But we’re not talking about teacher quality. We’re talking about content knowledge, which your cite didn’t mention in the slightest. It counted “high quality teachers” as “teachers who raised test scores”. That’s fine, but there’s no data that “teachers with high test scores” lead to “high quality teachers” who raise test scores.

      And it’s beyond idiotic to think that high quality teachers could close the achievement gap.

  13. Joanne,

    Your title was a cheap shot at American teachers, as if we are somehow deficient. Instead of sitting in some selective charter school, where the dregs are kicked out, why don’t you spend some time in real schools with REAL teachers?

    Or better yet, bring yourself down to Texas and teach in a charter school, all you need is a HS diploma. Then we’ll see how many snide comments about teachers you make.

    • Michael E. Lopez says:

      I don’t know… seemed like a fair title to me.

      It’s a national policy: only the best students as teachers.

      I think she was just calling it like they see it, and I didn’t feel any real slight implied. I actually doubt Joanne agrees with the Finnish policy on teacher recruitment — though I admit that’s rank speculation on my part.

      • You’re deluding yourself. Joanne constantly publishes the anti-public school/anti-teacher agenda.

        • Catherine says:

          Well, the public school system is the primary provider of education in the USA, and the results we get from it tend to be quite disappointing. Headlines about education issues are often going to implicitly or even explicitly criticize the public school system. She also publishes articles showing problems with charter schools.
          As to teachers, they vary widely, as might be expected given the large number of them. Surely one can look critically at issues like teacher qualification and union protections against firing ineffective teachers without being per se “anti-teacher”.
          If we’re going to be labeling agendas here, anyway, I’d hope everyone is above all pushing a “pro-children-actually-learning-and-having successful-happy-lives” agenda.

          • Not at all, but what the “reformers” and the politicians are pushing is not “pro-children-actually-learning-and-having successful-happy-lives” , its all about the Benjamins for private companies and getting the taxpayers to pay for their little Bufffy’s and Tad’s private schools.

          • Are our current results really all that disappointing?

            How does the percentage of high school graduates today compare to the past? Less than a generation ago it was commonly accepted that not everyone was going to, or needed to, graduate from high school. Kids who used to drop out were allowed to do so, now days schools find them and force them to attend to get the ADA.

            I know for a fact that the percentage of college graduates is higher than ever.

        • Michael E. Lopez says:

          So just because someone, say hypothetically, “Tike in Mexas”, “constantly” says silly, stupid things means that we’re supposed to assume that *everything* Tike in Mexas says is silly and stupid?

          That seems kind of rash.

          Tike in Mexas might actually say some very worthwhile things in between his regular and persistent bouts of verbal diarrhea. We should take each thing he says on its own merits, and not ascribe to his every utterance the flaws we see in so many of his other pronouncements.

          The title of this blog post seems pretty straightforward.

    • Stuart Buck says:

      Joanne was just making a point that Diane Ravitch makes all the time: teaching is competitive in Finland. Is Ravitch criticizing most American teachers for being unqualified to teach in Finland? Maybe so.

  14. Richard Aubrey says:

    To return to the original point: Finnish teachers are supposed to be getting great results because they are tops in subject knowledge.
    Two questions remain: Is tops in subject knowledge correlated except at the bottom with instructional capacity? Clearly, if you don’t know it, you can’t teach it. But do you need a high degree of advanced physics to get the basics across to whatever age group is studying the basics? IMO, open question.
    Secondly, what part of the difference is a matter of demographics and other social factors?
    Recall the fuss about Texas schools and Wisconsin schools during the fall elections in the latter. Turned out that TX does better than WI in each of three demos, the difference in overall results being a matter of different demographics. Could be something similar wrt Finland vs. USA in results.

    • Michael E. Lopez says:

      I agree — it’s an open question. I’ve got some thoughts about which way the wind blows on this, though.

      On the one hand, the advanced knowledge really isn’t at issue in the class. You’re not teaching Hamiltonian values, you’re teaching Ohm’s Law. It’s simple and straightforward and all you need to know is Ohm’s Law to teach it.

      But on the other, when you’re talking to someone about a subject, it’s pretty easy to get a sense for how well they understand it. And teachers with only a superficial understanding of their subject are going to be quickly revealed. Adolescents may not have much content knowledge, but they’re pretty good at sussing out people who don’t know what they are talking about. And teachers are quite literally on display for student examination for hours each day.

      If you don’t really get your subject, it’s going to show up, and that’s going to damage your credibility with your students. Maybe I was a strange child, but as a teenager I had no respect whatsoever for teachers who didn’t know their stuff backwards and forwards. Yes, this was a rash generalization on my part (I was a *teenager*), but however rash it was, it’s hard to teach when your students think you’re ignorant.

  15. Richard Aubrey says:

    Michael,

    With one or two exceptions–which I don’t remember but there must have been some–none of my public school teachers ever seemed to be caught short on the material.
    The proverbial “master’s degree in science” should get a teacher through jr. hi. at least, without having to stutter in talking to some punk who thinks Smithsonian is The Source. But would a PhD in physics make you a better teacher in jr. hi.? I think that’s the question. Teaching is a process based on content knowledge, but just as a foundation. After that, it’s a whole lot of other things.
    It seems the Finn question is whether supposedly extremely high levels of content knowledge–not just enough more that a kid doesn’t find you out–is correlated with outcomes and whether that can be separated from other issues.

    • Mark Roulo says:

      Something to keep in mind is that the *primary* difference between a PhD and a bachelors/masters is that the PhD is supposed to know how to do research in the field. This doesn’t translate well into broadly knowing more about the field in question.

  16. Everyone is focusing on the “more content knowledge” aspect of graduate degrees, but no one is commenting on the simple fact that it takes significant dedication and non-content ability to achieve a degree with a high GPA. I knew a guy in college who effectively tutored other Bio majors that graduated with high GPAs, but who barely graduated because of poor work habits. The GPA didn’t indicate knowledge, but effort, organization, and numerous other skills required for teaching.

  17. Catherine says:

    Is it my imagination, or has Finland become the Rorschach blot test of education reform?

  18. Richard Aubrey says:

    Catherine. Very, very good point. But I would add that anything, or any place, would qualify as an inkblot if it looked useful.

  19. ” IMO, open question.”

    It’s really not. While everyone acknowledges that a baseline of knowledge is probably desirable, no large scale research has shown that teacher content test scores, for example, correlate to better student test scores.

    At this point, it’s more accurate to say that while everyone likes to think it’s obvious that smarter teachers make for smarter students, the burden of proof is on them, because no research has reliably borne this out. Which doesn’t exclude the possibility of tiny studies that show that teachers nervous about math aren’t as good as teachers who aren’t nervous about math–which, of course, isn’t the same thing anyway.

    • Deirdre Mundy says:

      Well, if an adult is nervous about elementary school math, she’s probably not particularly GOOD at it. I mean, who freaks out about long division? Heck, who even thinks about it? It should be second nature by the time you’re teaching it!

      • It should be second nature, along with the vast majority of subject-area knowledge and skills, long BEFORE a prospective el ed teacher enters college. In what other field is that true? College should be extending that knowledge and instructing students in the most effective and efficient ways to teach it. I just looked at the el ed curriculum at my old school and it reads as pure PC BS; every ed world buzzword but little to nothing about academic knowledge and skills on the part of the teacher or the ES students. Maybe, in Finland, the focus is on academic knowledge and skills, both for the teacher and for the students.

  20. Once in the profession, teachers have a lot of autonomy over their classroom…In Finland it’s very common for us to write our own textbooks or choose the methods and curriculum or textbooks we want to buy…

    This sounds like a teacher’s paradise, where you have the freedom to innovate, devise curricula and choose textbooks. Administrators are control freaks that want to micromanage even teachers’ hand gestures and pulse rates from the offices they sit in on the other side of campus or the other side of town. We do not treat teachers as professionals who know what their students need and how to choose materials and deliver subject matter that meet those needs. I’m bloody sick of using textbooks with more bells and whistles than with meaningful and engaging content. I’m sick of multicultural pabulum and girl-friendly short stories and novels that alienate the young men in my classroom. The Finns have removed the shackles from their teachers, and the results they’re getting are predictably positive. Political correctness, pandering to minorities, lax discipline (We don’t want to make the school look bad), crappy materials and handcuffed teachers won’t improve minds or elevate scores. Teachers of the world unite! We have nothing to lose but our chains!

    • The problem is that the organizations that could push for this at the national level (where a lot of the administrative madness originates) have largely sold us out in return for pushing social policies that have little to do with our profession.

    • But Pearson Education and Mc-Graw Hill can’t make big bucks in a situation where teachers are calling the shots. They need to buy off politicians and state level officials to ensure their products are certified for use, and then force the issue with school districts, using their money to buy influence. FOLLOW THE MONEY!

      I wonder if the fact Finland only has a 4% poverty rate, as compared to the 20% or so in the US, accounts for their results?

      • Roger Sweeny says:

        Pearson Education and McGraw-Hill can make big money on textbooks no matter who is making the adoption decision.

        There would certainly be some differences in the way they develop and sell their products. They’d have more direct contact with teachers and less with department heads, curriculum co-ordinators, etc. But if there’s money in education, they can still get their share.

  21. “I wonder if the fact Finland only has a 4% poverty rate, as compared to the 20% or so in the US, accounts for their results?”

    What I wonder is if the education accounts for the poverty rates.