Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Finland's school model inspires Washington state
Low salaries due to teacher unions
Lynne Varner says that teachers in Finland have higher salaries than teachers in the U.S. [“Some insight on Finland’s schools,” Opinion, Nov. 16]. It doesn't gibe with a notion that the U.S. spends by far more per student than any other nation.
Maybe it is because of swollen administrative costs of the education in American schools. And isn't that cost caused by demands of teachers unions?
— Michael Velikin, Kenmore
Creating a more equitable society
Missing from Lynne Varner's discussion of Finland's education system is the sense that while the U.S. has moved from less to more federal control, Finland has been successful by moving the opposite direction and at the same time toward more equity of opportunity.
Finland's size is close to Washington's and Finland's schools are in fact run by 330 municipalities, not far from our 295 school districts.
The main speaker at the presentation, Pasi Sahlberg, states that, “If I could change one thing in [U.S. education] policy, I would seriously rethink the role of standardized testing” [“Finland’s top schools story: Less testing, more trusting,” NWWednesday, Nov. 14].
Rather than Varner's “mend it, don't end it” advice on standardized testing, Sahlberg seemed just plain puzzled that we pay so much attention to testing rather than to education. Except for one standardized test, Finland uses sampling rather than testing every student, and trusts the professionalism of teachers and principals.
The approach in Finland is not toward a uniform education, but toward equity of opportunity, which has unexpectedly led to excellent education. Varner is correct that “creating good schools ... is about committing to the price of a good education.” Part of that price is creating a more equitable society.
— Mary Wallon, Seattle
Frustration with failing education system
The Finns teach their kids reading, writing, math, history, geography, sciences, how to figure things out. Our schools only teach basic illiteracy.
Here, education is something everyone throws half of their property taxes at, with little to show for it. When the kids fail to learn, the schools blame the kids, their parents, lack of money, ethnic poverty — but never the real cause. It’s already been proved that learning and lack of money aren’t related when there’s a certain amount of care involved, but maybe the educators couldn’t read that. Or maybe they just don’t care?
The charter-schools bill passed because people are fed up with schools that are flat out incapable of teaching. People want their kids educated to deal with the real world and to get a good job, not psycho-pampered byfools who only care about feelings and self-esteem. Self-esteem is earned, not bestowed.
— Susan Munroe, Rochester