We have a tendency in the U.S. to think only of ourselves or to look enviously abroad to wonder what some other nation is doing that we should copy (another way of thinking only of ourselves).

Part of this is national narcissism but also incredible naiveté. As Yong Zhao has written in his books and blogs and articles, we look enviously at the test-driven schools of China at the same time that the Chinese wonder how to be more creative and entrepreneurial like us.

We can always learn from the experiences of other nations. One reader asked the question, what will happen when the “reformers” have passed so many punitive laws that no one will want to teach? A reader in The Netherlands responded:

When schools ‘suffer’ from a shortage, they will hire unqualified ‘teachers’ to fill up the vacancies. They will keep silent about that, and since the government is their best accomplice, they will keep silent about it too.In The Netherlands there is a big shortage of qualified teachers, for about 15 years. Even though we have lowered the qualification norms (you can be a teacher here if you can’t divide 4 by 0,5, or if you believe that the Second World War was some fight between Germans and Americans), still one out of every three secondary teachers is unqualified. Parents don’t know this, pupils don’t know this. It is a fact admitted by the Education Department, but they don’t do anything about it. Their main concern is that ‘someone’ is teaching, whoever it is, and whatever their capability. In short, teaching as a job is sold out by employers and the government.Some context: public education in The Netherlands consist of 99% charter schools and 1% private schools. All schools get an equal sum of money for every student. School boards receive a lumpsum every year; a big bag of money that they can spend any way they like, as long as students make ‘sufficient’ progress. ‘Sufficient’ is not an absolute norm but a relative one: school boards must make sure that their schools don’t get in the bottom 10%. When a school gets in the bottom 10%, directors usually leave the school and get better paid positions at other schools. No one is accountable exept for the ‘interim manager’ who receives a high fee for getting the school on track and in the ‘upper’ 90%.The economic prosperity 1990-2008 has led to a huge expansion of management, consultancy and bureaucracy in education. In contrast, the economic adversity 2008-present has led to increasing class size, canceling of educational programs for deprived children, more teaching hours per teacher, and teachers’ wages being frozen for four years.It seems like employers don’t care that there is a huge shortage of qualified employees. I can’t think of any other profession with such a phenomenon. Just imagine a shortage of medical doctors, lawyers, policemen etc. – and employers silently hiring tens of thousands unqualified people to fill up the vacancies!