The recent Scott Walker win in Wisconsin has led to a lot a talk about how to successfully improve the American education system. Clearly the two parties have different solutions for fixing education but determining what makes a successful education system could be key to cutting through the partisan rhetoric and finding real answers. By most measures Finland has one of if not the best education systems in the world while also managing to achieve this success at a lower cost than most. So what makes Finland so successful?
Unlike the U.S. system, the main driver of Finnish education policy has been the idea that every child should have exactly the same opportunity to learn, regardless of family background, income, or geographic location.
What is most striking about this list is how completely opposite it is to current thinking in America. When Finland made changes to their education system, their goal was to provide equality, not excellence. As John F. Kennedy said, “a rising tide lifts all boats” and the same appears to be true in Finland, where providing equal opportunity for all improves the results for everyone. While in the U.S. President Obama has fallen in line with Republicans to push ideas like charter schools, merit pay and standardized testing. So if you believe that education is getting worse, it’s getting worse as we move closer to a system of Republican ideas.
Essentially the U.S. system represents the free market idea of education while the Finnish system represents the socialist plan for education. Right now the socialists are winning.