...The results for disadvantaged pupils would be the envy of any Western country, he says.Mr Schleicher is confident of the robustness of this outline view of China's education standards. In an attempt to get a representative picture, tests were taken in nine provinces, including poor, middle-income and wealthier regions. The Chinese government has so far not allowed the OECD to publish the actual data.China: The world's cleverest country? (BBC)
But Mr Schleicher says the results reveal a picture of a society investing individually and collectively in education. On a recent trip to a poor province in China, he says he saw that schools were often the most impressive buildings. He says in the West, it is more likely to be a shopping centre. "You get an image of a society that is investing in its future, rather than in current consumption."
So why are the rising stars in Asia proving so successful? Mr Schleicher says it's a philosophical difference - expecting all pupils to make the grade, rather than a "sorting mechanism" to find a chosen few. He says anyone can create an education system where a few at the top succeed, the real challenge is to push through the entire cohort. In China, he says this means using the best teachers in the toughest schools.
Meanwhile, in America:
The fix has been in for a long time, and not just in Philadelphia. Philly's school problems are anything but unique. The city has a lot of poor and black children. Our ruling classes don't want to invest in educating these young people, preferring instead to track into lifetimes of insecure, low-wage labor and/or prison. Our elites don't need a populace educated in critical thinking. So low-cost holding tanks that deliver standardized lessons and tests, via computer if possible, operated by profit-making “educational entrepreneurs” are the way to go. The business class can pocket the money which used to pay for teachers' and custodians' retirement and health benefits, for music and literature and gym classes, for sports and science labs and theater and all that other stuff that used to be wasted on public school children.
The national vision of ruling Democrats and Republicans and the elites who fund them is to starve, discredit, denounce and strangle public education. Philly and its children, parents, communities and teachers are only the latest victims of business-class school reform. And they won't be the last.
...So the carving up of Philadelphia public schools IS a national story. It's just one that corporate media won't tell. Not in Philly, not in LA, not in Kansas City or anywhere, for fear that ordinary people might try to write themselves into a leading role. Polls show that the American people don't want their schools privatized, and don't believe education should be run by business people like a business. People want to take the money we spend on wars and bailouts and use it on education. Telling the story might give people the notion that the ultimate power is in their hands, not of mayors and chambers of commerce or the so-called “CEOs” of school system. It's time that story was told, and more of us heard it.Why Isn't Closing 40 Philadelphia Public Schools National News? Where Is the Black Political Class? (Black Agenda Report)
Of course, it's more than just spending money: 26 Amazing Facts About Finland's Unorthodox Education System (Business Insider)
Since it implemented huge education reforms 40 years ago, Finland's school system has consistently come at the top for the international rankings for education systems.Meanwhile, in America:
So how do they do it?
It's simple — by going against the evaluation-driven, centralized model that much of the Western world uses.
- Finnish children don't start school until they are 7.
- They rarely take exams or do homework until they are well into their teens.
- The children are not measured at all for the first six years of their education.
- There is only one mandatory standardized test in Finland, taken when children are 16.
- All children, clever or not, are taught in the same classrooms.
- Finland spends around 30 percent less per student than the United States.
- 30 percent of children receive extra help during their first nine years of school.
- 66 percent of students go to college.The highest rate in Europe.
- The difference between weakest and strongest students is the smallest in the World.
- Science classes are capped at 16 students so that they may perform practical experiments every class.
- 93 percent of Finns graduate from high school. 17.5 percent higher than the US.
- 43 percent of Finnish high-school students go to vocational schools.
- Elementary school students get 75 minutes of recess a day in Finnish versus an average of 27 minutes in the US.
- Teachers only spend 4 hours a day in the classroom, and take 2 hours a week for "professional development".
- Finland has the same amount of teachers as New York City, but far fewer students. 600,000 students compared to 1.1 million in NYC.
- The school system is 100% state funded.
- All teachers in Finland must have a masters degree, which is fully subsidized.
- The national curriculum is only broad guidelines.
- Teachers are selected from the top 10% of graduates.
- In 2010, 6,600 applicants vied for 660 primary school training slots
- The average starting salary for a Finnish teacher was $29,000 in 2008 Compared with $36,000 in the United States.
- However, high school teachers with 15 years of experience make 102 percent of what other college graduates make. In the US, this figure is 62%.
- There is no merit pay for teachers
- Teachers are given the same status as doctors and lawyers
- In an international standardized measurement in 2001, Finnish children came top or very close to the top for science, reading and mathematics. It's consistently come top or very near every time since.
- And despite the differences between Finland and the US, it easily beats countries with a similar demographic Neighbor Norway, of a similar size and featuring a similar homogeneous culture, follows the same same strategies as the USA and achieves similar rankings in international studies.
Widespread ignorance bordering on idiocy is our new national goal. It’s no use pretending otherwise and telling us, as Thomas Friedman did in the Times a few days ago, that educated people are the nation’s most valuable resources. Sure, they are, but do we still want them? It doesn’t look to me as if we do. The ideal citizen of a politically corrupt state, such as the one we now have, is a gullible dolt unable to tell truth from bullshit.The Age of Ignorance, Charles Simic, The New York Review of Books
An educated, well-informed population, the kind that a functioning democracy requires, would be difficult to lie to, and could not be led by the nose by the various vested interests running amok in this country. Most of our politicians and their political advisers and lobbyists would find themselves unemployed, and so would the gasbags who pass themselves off as our opinion makers. Luckily for them, nothing so catastrophic, even though perfectly well-deserved and widely-welcome, has a remote chance of occurring any time soon. For starters, there’s more money to be made from the ignorant than the enlightened, and deceiving Americans is one of the few growing home industries we still have in this country. A truly educated populace would be bad, both for politicians and for business.