Thursday, August 25, 2011

Can American education replicate Finland's success?

I was reading an article about why Finland's school system is the envy of the world when I came across a telling paragraph. First, a little background.

Apparently (I haven't seen the movie yet), Waiting for Superman, the documentary about the "failure" of the American education system, holds Finland up as the model for effective education. The statistics tell the story. According to the article, "In 2000, ...a standardized test given to 15-year-olds in more than 40 global venues revealed Finnish youth to be the best young readers in the world. Three years later, they led in math. By 2006, Finland was first out of 57 countries (and a few cities) in science." The country's results pay off later too: "Ninety-three percent of Finns graduate from academic or vocational high schools, 17.5 percentage points higher than the United States, and 66 percent go on to higher education, the highest rate in the European Union. Yet Finland spends about 30 percent less per student than the United States."

These numbers are so impressive that Smithsonian Magazine attempted to find out what made the system so great. See if you can figure out why America will never replicate Finland's success:
It’s almost unheard of for a child to show up hungry or homeless. Finland provides three years of maternity leave and subsidized day care to parents, and preschool for all 5-year-olds, where the emphasis is on play and socializing. In addition, the state subsidizes parents, paying them around 150 euros per month for every child until he or she turns 17. Ninety-seven percent of 6-year-olds attend public preschool, where children begin some academics. Schools provide food, medical care, counseling and taxi service if needed. Stu­dent health care is free.
That's right. We'll never replicate their success because Finland practices Socialism, and every red-blooded American knows that Socialism doesn't work!

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