Letter: America must learn from others' early education programsRepublicans in the Minnesota Legislature had an opportune time to begin a rejuvenation of our educational system.
By: Richard Johnson, The Republican Eagle
To the Editor:
Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature had an opportune time to begin a rejuvenation of our educational system. While concentrating on what they determined were urgent and compelling social “fixes” — putting a constitutional amendment on November’s ballot, as well as an unneeded voting I.D. bill — they did little to benefit early education.
One would have thought repairing or commencing the first step would have topped their agenda. School budgets are under attack. Shorter school years, days and weeks are being enacted, and programs necessary to get preschoolers off on the right foot are scarce.
Districts claim that budgets are the fault, causing them to trim costs. It is a false economy. They are unable to address the most controversial item of teacher seniority.
Our country ranks about 35th in the world in overall quality and achievement scores. Although we have nine of the top 10 universities and colleges, that ranking will clearly diminish over time with precollege educational programs being so dysfunctional.
There is a disparity over the cure. Everyone is protecting their turf and there is a general unwillingness to compromise.
To my mind, the answer is simple: adopt the program from a country not dissimilar to ours in its culture and political makeup.
Finland is rated No. 1. It is a western democracy and the assessment of those who know the system is twofold: One, students spend considerably more time in class, not having long summer vacations and working longer days. Two, teachers are held in high esteem, being treated as professionals such as doctors as well as being high on the compensation ladder. It is as difficult gaining admission to a teacher college preparatory program as it is to medical school.
No. 2 in the world is Singapore. Although located in the Far East, it is closer in customs to a western democracy than that of other Pacific nations.
The clear and compelling answer is not to argue and discuss what parts of those systems would work, but simply adopt all but aspects antagonistic to our culture.
We have only our children’s and this country’s future at stake.