Your Letters: Sensible education reform
Politicians who are making recommendations and passing legislation aimed at reforming Minnesota public education should also look at the most successful educational models in the world, Finland (no. 1 in science and reading) and South Korea (no. 1 in math). Neither of these countries nor any of the most successful educational systems in the world use tests alone to specifically evaluate or punish teachers.
Yes, let's do what's essential to make our schools better, but let's do it with the objective and thoroughly pragmatic problem solving that will actually have a chance of accomplishing it. Let's also do it so that our students do not just become masterful test takers at the expense of their also becoming excellent analytical problem solvers.
Finland, for example, does not emphasize testing much at all, but sharply targeted lessons to practice and stimulate creative thinking skills. Finland even has merit pay, but it never goes to an individual teacher, but to an entire school and all of its teachers when that school shows that a great majority of its students have achieved high attainment levels of achievement. It's not very far-sighted to believe that people whose salaries and jobs depend directly upon some sacred tests are not going to spend inordinate time teaching to those tests. Is there a better prescription for making education as narrow and boring as possible?
Greg Van Hee