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U.S. should look to Finland as a model for education

Finland has had great success in raising literacy and numeracy rates among students by giving individuals the extra help they need. Here, education consultant Dennis Parker, right, watches as Lisa Corbett, left and Aron Oh, center, work on a problem at a Lakewood school.
Finland has had great success in raising literacy and numeracy rates among students by giving individuals the extra help they need. Here, education consultant Dennis Parker, right, watches as Lisa Corbett, left and Aron Oh, center, work on a problem at a Lakewood school. (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

My wife and I visited Finland this summer and a teacher there described his training and position in society (“Maryland teachers are fleeing the profession for more prestigious fields. How one plan aims to fix that.,” Sept. ). First, of course, his education was free from kindergarten through college, as long as he exceeded a high academic average. Second, he received tuition plus a stipend for his graduate education since he was entering a field that benefited society. Third, he had to acquire two masters degrees: one in his area of academic concentration and another in educational philosophy, psychology and methods. After completing the two government funded masters degrees, he had to work for three years under supervision before receiving tenure. And now he has to take annual courses to retain accreditation.

As a result, he and other teachers in Finland are excellently trained, highly paid, and very, very much respected. Children in Finland consistently score first or second in the world on OECD international educational tests. Needless to add, he and his colleagues would never consider leaving their coveted jobs for less respected and less compensated alternatives. Are we here in the United States willing to make that kind of commitment to education? What is the cost of not making that kind of commitment?

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Steve Warres

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