Monday, August 22, 2011

Why Are Finland's Schools Successful?/Leach-Williams Voucher Debate

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Why Are Finland's Schools Successful?
The country's achievements in education have other nations doing their homework
Smithsonian magazine, September 2011 By Lynnell Hancock
The transformation of the Finns' education system began some 40 years ago as the key propellent of the country's economic recovery plan. Educators had little idea it was so successful until 2000, when the first results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), 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. In the 2009 PISAscores released last year, the nation came in second in science, third in reading and sixth in math among nearly half a million students worldwide. "I'm still surprised," said Arjariita Heikkinen, principal of a Helsinki comprehensive school. "I didn't realize we were that good."

In the United States, which has muddled along in the middle for the past decade, government officials have attempted to introduce marketplace competition into public schools. In recent years, a group of Wall Street financiers and philanthropists such as Bill Gates have put money behind private-sector ideas, such as vouchers, data-driven curriculum and charter schools, which have doubled in number in the past decade. President Obama, too, has apparently bet on compe­tition. His Race to the Top initiative invites states to compete for federal dollars using tests and other methods to measure teachers, a philosophy that would not fly in Finland. "I think, in fact, teachers would tear off their shirts," said Timo Heikkinen, a Helsinki principal with 24 years of teaching experience. "If you only measure the statistics, you miss the human aspect."

School Voucher Debate
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice
As the Pennsylvania General Assembly takes up the subject of school vouchers in September, the Jewish Social Policy Action Network will hold a discussion of vouchers at 12:00 noon on Thursday, September 8, 2011, at: Duane Morris LLP, 30 South 17th Street in Philadelphia. Register for details and to attend this event at 215-635-2664.
The speakers will be Pennsylvania Senators Anthony Williams andDaylin Leach. Last February, Marty Moss-Coane moderated a school voucher debate on Radio Times between William and Leach.  Listen to the MP3.

Committee hearing on proposed "anti-strike bill" to be held in Neshaminy

Posted: Sunday, August 21, 2011 12:00 am
Bucks County Courier Times By Christian Menno Staff writer
NESHAMINY SCHOOLS — The Pennsylvania House Education Committee will hold a hearing on proposed Bill 1369 at 10 a.m. Thursday at Neshaminy High School.
Also known as the anti-strike bill, if passed into law, it would affect how school districts operate during teacher contract disputes. It would force negotiations at regular intervals and end teacher strikes.  While the public is asked to attend, only invited speakers will be able to address the legislators.

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