Is the U.S. headed in the wrong direction?


UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh

I stood in the back of the room hoping to be able to engage in an intelligent conversation surrounding public education. I watched as policymakers, higher education officials, business men and women, board of education representatives, charter school principals and others filled the room. Where were the classroom teachers? I guess I was it.

This group was gathered because of the recently published report comparing Utah’s test scores on the NAEP with other states that are demographically similar. Utah did not fare so well. I had done my homework.

Minnesota is most compatible with Utah. Minnesota’s class size average is around 18 and they spend twice as much per student as the state of Utah. I wonder if there will ever be an acknowledgement that money matters.

The success of Finland’s education system entered into the fray. Now I was on solid ground. Finland’s teacher education programs are extremely selective, provide for one year in a master teacher’s classroom, and require three years graduate-level preparation degree at the state’s expense.

Finland also provides for regular collaboration for its teachers, no external testing used to rank teachers or students but rather to guide instruction, open-ended performance based assessments, and the teaching profession is on par with other professional workers. It seems to me that the United States is headed in the wrong direction.

By the way, did I mention that Finland’s teachers are 100% unionized?


Apples and Oranges

Date Posted: 1/24/2011 5:10:52 PM
Name: Richard (Ric) Kirschner

Let me start this by saying to compare American studenst with students from other countries is a "red Herring" in the sense that most of the countries we are compared with have a national curricular structure, as well as highly selective teacher education programs. It makes me wonder if any of these programs; Finnish, Singaporean and etc. are adoptible in our country. We would have to make radical changes and sacrifices to adopt any of these systems, changes that would mean changes to our entire way of life. While I am for those changes because they would bring about the globalization of Utah, I am realistic enough to recognise that the money it would take and the changes that money would make are unrealistic in today's Utah. Still one can hope ... n'est pas?


Date Posted: 11/23/2010 12:07:00 PM
Name: Bruce Ingleby

It seems like money is always the issue with trying to improve our educational system. When will people start to understand that it is a cost now, but it will be an investment in our future! We are losing large amounts of our great teachers and workers to other states that have higher paying jobs. If we don’t invest now in our educational and economic structures this trend will continue to go down and people will be saying “Where is the money to pay for that?” We will be right where we started. It is time for action now!

Put Aside Ideology

Date Posted: 11/22/2010 12:06:44 PM
Name: Cindy Carroll

For all our complaints about the economy in Utah - we live in a very rich state and country. We choose to prioritize our riches in the wrong areas and we act surprised when we get what we pay for. I vote that we put aside ideaology, open our ears and hearts and LISTEN to the truth about public education from educators who are immersed in the day-to-day success/struggles of the classroom.

Finland reforms in Utah?

Date Posted: 11/22/2010 9:17:10 AM
Name: Harvey

Any chance we might see any of these Finland-style reforms proposed here in Utah? Or is the legislature too focused on punitive reforms like grading schools and paying for test scores?


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