Sunday, March 27, 2011

We See It, But Our Values Lately Say We Don't Believe It

Another day, another comparison with Finland.

Rick Haglund has turned in a short, well-written article that clearly identifies the primary significant factors in why our two countries are different (Finland can teach Michigan, the United States a few things).

Are there lessons in these results for Michigan, where hot debates rage over reforming education and developing better teachers?

Yes, although adopting the central elements of Finland’s education system would be difficult.

Per pupil spending, generally less than in the United States, is roughly level across the country (The Finns are big on redistribution of wealth). There are few standardized tests.
Finnish children don’t start school until age 7, but parents of newborns get a gift pack from the government that includes a picture book. Reading is encouraged at a young age. College is free.

Different attitudes about parenting in Finland also could factor into its educational success.

While no two countries can simply copy each other's map to success, it certainly will be hard to compete educationally while the U.S. and Michigan are taking different routes by ignoring the simple economics of public education and child poverty.  We see what success requires, but do we believe it?