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HEAD TO THE FINNISH LINE

 

By Mary Starrett
April
15, 2004

NewsWithViews.com

A teacher at a Phoenix high school has gone to court to try and put an end to the routine behavior of one of her 15 year old students.

Elizabeth Ann Moore says the boy walks into her classroom each morning and tells her to “go (expletive) yourself ”. Usually the harassment escalates from there. Ms. Moore has had enough. She’s asked the local court to do something about the situation which she says continues despite complaints to the boy’s parents, the principal and the school board.

Moore is not alone. Each year, scores of fed-up teachers leave the profession because students have made their jobs unbearable. Some schools can’t get or keep teachers for love nor money. Those who spend even short amounts of time in the classroom in no time look for an out- like working in administration or teaching in charter or private schools. Or cleaning houses. The climate in the government schools is alarming. Kids not only disrespect their teachers verbally but often physically as well. And this is despite an increasing presence of police officers on campus

A recent Arizona Republic newspaper headline claims: “Just Being There Makes Kids Safer”[1]. Below it is a picture of a police officer who daily patrols the school grounds, buildings and streets surrounding a west Phoenix high school. A week before, in neighboring Scottsdale, a high school student was arrested for failing to remove the baseball cap which he wore with its’ brim to the side (an alleged sign of disrespect for authority).

The school resource officers (SROs) as they’re called, roam schools in most U.S. cities and are designed to be a “presence” to deter crime. First of all it’s not working, secondly, what message are we sending young Americans that you live in a police-state? Disciplinary issues that used to be the province of principals and hall monitors (and parents!) are now included in the job description of law enforcement officers.

They don’t have cops in schools in Finland. They don’t need them.

They also consider teaching the “number one profession”. Applicants for teaching jobs vastly outnumber the jobs available.

Oh, and in addition to cop-less schools and teachers who clamber to get into the school system there, Finnish schools have just been ranked the world’s best. Just in case you’re skimming this article I’ll repeat that. The Schools in Finland are considered the WORLD’S BEST.

Finland rates first in literacy and in the top five in math and science. The United States falls halfway down a list of 31 countries.

According to a review by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, math and science tests given to 15 year olds in public and private schools show American students don’t even come close to achieving what the Finnish students do.

So what’s the secret to well-educated kids? Must be more money you say. No, the Finns spend only $5,000.00 per student in government schools while here in the United States we spend between $6,857.00 and $10,000.00 per year, per child.Private schools here spend roughly $3,100.00 per child.[2]

While we’re throwing more and more money down the rat hole of government schools, the Finnish students are running circles around our kids….for far less money.

Not money? Then it must be the smaller class sizes in the Finnish schools. Wrong again. The average class size here in the United States is on average 16, in Finland it’s almost 30. Well, then it must be because the kids start school earlier in that tiny Nordic country. Nope. Children in Finland don’t start school until they’re 7. Here, the push for Head Start programs and all-day kindergarten(which state legislatures all over the country are in an almost hysterical mad dash to get funded) have yielded- not better educated students but kids who lag behind their counterparts in such places as Cyprus and South Africa.

Karl Marx would just love the way we’re moving so effortlessly toward having the state “raise” our children. We can call it “early childhood learning” or getting a “jump start” on education but in reality, it hasn’t worked and the results of what we have done have landed us close to the bottom of the education barrel.

Educators from school systems the world over have flocked to the little country to find out how they’ve managed to eclipse us and everybody else.

What they discover is really very simple. The schools are free to teach any way they want. Contrast that with the heavy-handed federal bureaucracy that’s choking the life and autonomy out of our local schools. The teachers all have at least a master’s degree, despite the fact that their pay is about the same as teachers get in other countries. Teachers are respected, even revered.

Finnish students wouldn’t dare tell their teacher “go (expletive) yourself”.

Footnotes:

[1] Arizona Republic/ 4/12/04
[2]National Center for Education Statistics/2002

© 2004 Mary Starrett - All Rights Reserved

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Mary Starrett was on television for 21 years as a news anchor, morning talk show host and medical reporter. For the last 5 years she hosted a radio program. Mary is a frequent guest on radio talk shows. E-Mail M123STAR@aol.com 


 

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"Karl Marx would just love the way we’re moving so effortlessly toward having the state “raise” our children. We can call it “early childhood learning” or getting a “jump start” on education but in reality, it hasn’t worked and the results of what we have done have landed us close to the bottom of the education barrel."