Tag Archives: teacher training in Finland

What can the United States learn to improve public education and reduce poverty from two Fs

The two Fs I’m talking about are Finland and France.

In another forum, this comment was made about Finland’s public schools: “Comparisons with Finland are foolish – virtually no childhood poverty, income equality instead of inequality and few immigrants … and high suicide rates.”

Here’s my revised reply:

What you say about Finland is true, but the U.S. can still learn from Finland combined with what France is doing to deal with similar challenges that the United States faces. While Finland offers the best model for how to run public schools successfully, France offers methods to deal with a large immigrant population and poverty.

The French national institute of statistics INSEE estimates that foreign-born immigrants and the direct descendants of immigrants (born in France with at least one immigrant parent) represent 19 percent of the total population.

Compared to France’s immigrant population of 19 percent, less than 13 percent of the U.S population is labeled as immigrants. Therefore, France is a country to pay attention to, because we can learn from France’s successes and failures.

It’s almost impossible to find another country that compares to the U.S. among developed nations, because none of them have the rate of childhood poverty the U.S. has. To find a match, we have to look, for instance, at Turkey or Mexico. But in Turkey and Mexico only about a third of the population has earned a high school degree or its equivalent compared to more than 90 percent in the United States, while the on-time H.S. graduation rate in France is 85 percent—much closer to the U.S.

In addition, France offers a successful lesson when it comes to early childhood education programs—a national program that’s missing in the United States.

It’s arguable that France’s reduced rate of poverty from 20 percent in the 1960s to less than 7 percent today is due, in part, to its national early childhood education program that is available to all children starting as young as two.

Poverty in France has fallen by 60% over thirty years. Although it affected 15 percent of the population in 1970, in 2001 only 6.1 percent were below the poverty line.

As for using the suicide rate in Finland as an excuse to ignore the country’s public schools, it’s arguable that latitude has more to do with the suicide rate than Finland’s culture, socialist economy and/or public education.

To discover what I’m talking about, you may want to read studies that suggest a connection between suicide rates and higher latitudes.

For instance, a recent study of suicide in Alaska (21.8 per 100,000 people and 35.1 among Alaska Natives) suggests that the rate of intentional, self-inflicted death gets higher the farther north a community is located. The suicide rate in Finland is close to Alaska’s.

For every 5 degree increase in latitude—about 345 miles—the suicide rate jumps 18 percent, according to the model. Finland’s latitude is between 60 to 65 degrees North compared to Alaska’s 58 to 71 degrees North. Alaska spans almost 20 degrees of latitude.

Then there is this study: The dark side of more sunlight: Higher suicide rates

Conclusion: Why isn’t the White House and Congress doing the right thing and learning from the two Fs to improve public education and reduce poverty in the United States? Why do they listen to frauds like Michelle Rhee instead?

I think you’ll find the answer to the previous questions in the following video.

What can we learn from Finland and France?

That teacher residency programs have the best teacher retention, because these programs require a year-long residency in a mentor’s classroom, a requirement that matches the teacher training methods used in high archiving nations like Finland.

In France, teachers are recruited via two competitive examinations: the examination for school teachers and the examination for secondary and high school teachers. Those who pass the examination successfully will then enter one year of professional training. During their in-class training with students, the teachers are monitored and assisted by the qualified inspectors and the training centers.

In fact, the most successful teacher training in the United States is a one year, urban teacher residency program where student teachers are placed in a mentor teacher’s classroom. Teachers from this program have an 87-percent retention rate compared to 50-percent for teachers who go through a traditional college of education or, even worse, 33 percent for Teach For America (TFA) recruits.

Note that TFA’s methods to train teachers are not used in Finland, France or Shanghai, China.

What teacher training program do you think the Obama White House and Arne Duncan’s Department of Education favors and promotes?

If your answer was Michelle Rhee’s TFA, you were correct. Michelle Rhee and TFA are flawed frauds designed to destroy the public schools by flooding classrooms with incompetent teachers who are not properly and adequately trained.  TFA recruits receive five weeks of summer training compared to the proven method of one year of in-class mentored training with follow up support.

Compare this teacher residency program with the 5 weeks of summer training for TFA recruits that doesn’t include any classroom experience.


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves


Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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