1/30: Lessons ignored; HOPE cap

Moderated by Maureen Downey
The Legislature will spend a lot of time debating school reforms and the HOPE scholarship. We tackle both issues today, beginning with a call by a state senator to impose an income cap on HOPE, a proposal that meets with mixed response from readers. I discuss whether one of the world’s most successful reform models — Finland’s — holds any lessons for America.

Tell us what you think about school reforms or the HOPE scholarship.

4 comments Add your comment


January 30th, 2012
5:03 pm

Just curious Maureen, how much does the administrative overhead compare in schools in Canada & Finland to the US?

Our cost-per-student is considerably higher than those countries – with lower results. Just backs-up the point that it’s not a funding issue but rather the US educational system’s inability to properly manage the vast resources pumped into it each year.


January 30th, 2012
2:53 pm

Two observations. First, means testing HOPE scholarships merely creates a new entitlement program for “the needy” and discriminates against kids from the deeper end of the gene pool who statistically are better students. Second, if HOPE expenditures are outrunning receipts perhaps we need to focus on the revenue side – like, do we really need to pay the GA Lottery Corp. CEO $490,000 a year?


January 30th, 2012
1:19 pm

Another thing that Finland did, that wasn’t mentioned in the article, is that it examined how children learn. Edcators determined that girls & boys learned differently & adjusted accordingly. For example, they found that boys who started school AFTER the age of 7 (in 1st grade) were much better able to learn than if they were younger. They also recognized that boys, more so than girls, needed hands-on learning to grasp the lessons. They adjusted accordingly. guess ‘one size’ DOESN’T fit all after all.

To improve our schools, we MUST improve the quality of the programs that educate teachers.

Mary Elizabeth

January 30th, 2012
10:37 am

Excellent article by Ms. Downey in showing the way forward for Georgia to create more quality schools throughout the state, through presenting Finland’s schools, as a model.

The following words by Ms. Downey should be highlighted:

“Too many school districts don’t look up the street or across the world to study success. Nor do our lawmakers, many of whom prefer to champion slogans rather than come up solutions. Expand school choice! Offer vouchers! Ban teacher unions!

Finland has a teachers union, a national curriculum and virtually no private schools, yet it leads the world in student performance.

Finland — and other successful countries — understands that a single policy or a hodgepodge of policies won’t work. You need a coherent system of policies aimed at the same goal. Finland began with a commitment to providing all children the same educational opportunities and realized that raising teacher quality was the key.”

I, especially, support the words, “. . providing all children the same educational opportunities. . .” and “. . .raising teacher quality was the key.”

Of course, providing ALL students with the same educational opportunities (that some charter schools provide for a limited few) and raising teacher quality will take more financial investment, statewide. It would be money well worth the investment.

Public schools must remain part of the public domain to ensure that the public welfare, and the public interest, continue to be served.