Saturday, December 13, 2008

Oz-tin in Helsinki

Via Matthew Yglesias, who is posting from Finland while studying the public education system there:

Within the context of this blog's recent post on education, Yglesias' education-oriented posts this past week have made for much food for thought. Here are links to a few (some advisories: some of these are long; and Yglesias is not known for his proofreading skills):

Immigration and Early Education

The Basics (briefly describes the early-childhood education system)

Finnish Testing. Key passage:

The basic idea that the best way to tell how a school is doing is to administer tests, and then when a school does poorly on tests you know things need to be changed, is held in common [between the U.S. and Finland]. What’s very different are the details of implementation. Finland’s system is much less of a “system” — it’s less formal and less systematic. The Finnish government takes for granted that municipalities will want rigorous assessments of their schools’ performances. The US congress assumes that school districts don’t want such assessments and need to be forced to do them. The Finnish government also takes for granted that the staff and administration of a low-performing school will be alarmed by bad test results and start taking action to change things. The US congress assumes that the staff and administration of a low-performing school won’t act unless they’re made to act.

Skills Slowdown (some comments on the fact that U.S. workers' overall skills attainment is beginning to slip in comparison to that of other nations)

Teacher Education in Finland

The Inequality Cycle (notes that one major root of academic inequality is due to economic inequality . . . which leads to further/reinforced academic inequality)

Yglesias does make clear at the appropriate places that public education is heavily subsidized in Finland, to the point that college students are in essence paid to go to school. Translate all that as: high taxation rates. But the tradeoff is a more highly-educated work force . . . and a more equitable and harmonious society.

So I ask you: what do these people have to complain about??

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