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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Day 21: Is it really day 21 already? Why the Finns are #1 in education

A classroom in Finland
We have been at school for nearly a month now. It once was that this day would begin the first or second week of "real classes" after having gotten the "back to school" first week behind us. Heck, once this week was the last week of summer when we went to school on the Tuesday after Labor Day.

I read an interesting article in this month's Smithsonian magazine entitled "Why Are Finland's Schools Successful? According to the article, Finland doesn't give its students the type of standardized tests that American education systems so love except for one in the senior year. One quote from the essay really stood out for me.

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 if free.

In the US, many would call this socialism! (It is really a part of social democracy, but few rightwingers know or care about the difference.) It seems to work in Finland, at least.

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