William Doyle is living in Finland as a scholar-in-residence at the University of Eastern Finland.


In this post, he describes what Betsy DeVos would learn if she visited Finland.


He writes:


Donald Trump is promoting “school choice” as he vows to improve the American education system. To achieve this vision, he should start by putting his incoming Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on a plane to world education superpower Finland to see what school choice means in its most powerful form — the choice from among numerous, great, neighborhood schools anywhere in the country.
Just ranked by the World Economic Forum as the No. 1 primary school system globally Finland shows us, that true educational choice means holding politicians accountable to provide families the choice between safe, well-resourced, high-quality local schools, especially in high-poverty areas, schools run by teachers trained at the highest levels of professionalism and supported by a national culture of teacher and school collaboration and respect for families and teachers.
We need to make the teaching profession respected enough to attract and retain the most highly qualified, motivated and passionate young people…and many of the teachers already in America’s schools.


The classroom scene in Finland is strikingly different from prevailing atmosphere reported in many classrooms in America, the U.K. and elsewhere, where teachers are routinely under-trained, micro-managed, surveilled, data-shamed, punished, overworked, disrespected and stressed to the breaking point by politicians, bureaucrats and non-educators….


We must not base our entire system of education on the staggeringly expensive, relentless standardized testing of children by faceless data collectors – make test design, administration and evaluation the job of the real experts – the classroom teachers who know our children best….


For example, Finland has discovered a crucial secret of education: Instead of flooding classrooms with graduates of unaccredited “alternative certifications” or six-week summer training courses as we do in the United States, teaching should be treated much more seriously, like an actual profession that’s critical to our nation’s future. Teaching requires rigorous, graduate-level training in both research and classroom practice.
It is a fantasy to believe, as the newly enacted federal Every Student Succeeds Act proposes, that we can improve our schools by requiring America’s teacher training universities to be evaluated by the standardized test scores of the children who are taught by their graduates. No high-performing school system does things this way.