Rhode Island won a Race to the Top grant, so of course the state is obsessed with competition, accountability, and high-stakes evaluations of students, teachers, principals, and schools.
Fortunately, the great Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg was invited by the University of Rhode Island to describe an alternate universe where entering teachers meet the highest standards, students do not take standardized tests, competition is minimized, and almost every student graduates from either an academic or career program.
“Finland, unlike the United States, believes that schools can provide every child with a quality education without sacrificing excellence. But that means taking care of the whole child: offering early-childhood programs, comprehensive health and special-education services and a curriculum that values art, music and sports as much as math and English.
“In a fundamental sense, Sahlberg said, the United States is asking the wrong questions. Instead of asking, “What will help students…
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