Equity & Policy

I believe firmly that our biggest issue in the United States with regard to education is that Teacher working conditions are so difficult and not at all comparable to the countries we compare ourselves to regarding outcomes. Teachers in the United States are with students literally double the amount of time that teachers in Japan and Finland are with students.  The teachers in Japan and Finland have time to reflect, discuss, get better, connect, adjust, learn, and teach with passion. Our teachers are amazing but they are overworked.  It’s not about bad teachers, it’s much bigger and deeper than that.  See my BlogPost later this year for more.

Here are links to consider:

Teachers Around the World – Comparative Stats.  To me, the most important graph is the first one: Teacher time with students.

Here is a really interesting article about the United States’ superficial efforts to learn from Finland. The premise of the article is basically this – The United States does not want to hear, apparently, that the number one initiative in Finland was to give ALL students access to high quality education.  This drove their policy as they worked towards becoming one of the top performing countries in the world (which was not always the case).

I discuss this issue and connect it to how we teach math and how the brain works in my TEDxNCSU lecture.  I also investigate this issue in my dissertation, which I certainly don’t expect anyone to read.  But the gist is that we allow some students to take Algebra in eighth grade and others don’t get this opportunity.  It appears that our expectations about where students ‘belong’ sometimes trumps their actual demonstrated skill level.  Students who are black and students with disabilities appear to be tracked according to expectation as much or more than by ability.

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