Uninfluenced by liberal mantra and childhood institutionalization programs
Governor Napolitano, who has never seen an educational spending program she hasn’t endorsed, should read this Wall Street Journal article. Although Napolitano has been steadfast in her opposition to school vouchers, which provide parents expanded choice in the education of their children, she has advocated “early childhood education,” placing our youngest and most impressionable in government schools at younger ages with all-day kindergarten. Finnish children don’t start school until age 7.
The Goldwater Institute published a study which demonstrates that early childhood education expansion is an expensive reform that delivers only transitory benefits. School choice uses resources more efficiently and delivers improved academic achievement.
Yet without such government mandates and expenditures (by Napolitano’s own accounting, Arizona has dropped $100 million into education during the past year and received $12 million in federal funds) Finland’s teens score extraordinarily high on an international test, far surpassing American counterparts.
High school students rarely get more than a half-hour of homework a night. They have no school uniforms, no honor societies, no valedictorians, no tardy bells and no classes for the gifted. There is little standardized testing and few parents agonize over college.
Yet by one international measure, Finnish teenagers are among the smartest in the world. They earned some of the top scores by 15-year-old students who were tested in 57 countries. American teens finished among the world’s C students even as U.S. educators piled on more homework, standards and rules. Finnish youth, like their U.S. counterparts, also waste hours online. They dye their hair, love sarcasm and listen to rap and heavy metal. But by ninth grade they’re way ahead in math, science and reading—on track to keeping Finns among the world’s most productive workers.
Finland separates students for the last three years of high school based on grades; 53% go to high school and the rest enter vocational school. Finland has a high-school dropout rate of about 4%—10% at vocational schools—compared with roughly 25% in the U.S. College is free.
While it is true that the largely homogeneous population includes few students who don’t speak Finnish, children of previous generations of immigrants to the U.S. excelled without costly and contentious ESL mandates.
It can be done, Governor.