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Behind Obama’s Education Reform May 24, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in philosophy & politics.
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The U.S. spends more per pupil than any other but whose student performance ranks in the bottom third among developed nations isn’t failing its children for lack of resources but for lack of trained, motivated, accountable talent at the front of the class.

Before they successfully organized in the 1950s and 1960s, teachers endured meager salaries, political favoritism, tyrannical principals and sex discrimination against a mostly female work force.

But now a 165-page New York City union contract … not only specifies everything that teachers will do and will not do during a six-hour-57 ½-minute workday but also requires that teachers be paid based on how long they have been on the job. Once they’ve been teaching for three years and judged satisfactory in a process that invariably judges all but a few of them satisfactory, they are ensured lifetime tenure.

via The Teachers’ Unions’ Last Stand – NYTimes.com.

What Makes Finnish Kids So Smart? March 2, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Lifestyle.
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What Makes Finnish Kids So Smart? – WSJ.com
High-school students here rarely get more than a half-hour of homework a night. They have no school uniforms, no honor societies, no valedictorians, no tardy bells and no classes for the gifted. There is little standardized testing, few parents agonize over college and kids don’t start school until age 7.

Yet by one international measure, Finnish teenagers are among the smartest in the world. The academic prowess of Finland’s students has lured educators from more than 50 countries in recent years to learn the country’s secret, including an official from the U.S. Department of Education. What they find is simple but not easy: well-trained teachers and responsible children. Early on, kids do a lot without adults hovering. And teachers create lessons to fit their students. (more…)

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