tv This Is America With Dennis Wholey WHUT April 22, 2012 10:00am-10:30am EDT
>> we recently traveled to new york city to observe the international summit of the teaching profession. countries from all over the world with successful school systems come together to share ideas with each other. at the summit, i had a chance to sit down and talk with some of the brightest minds in education today. thank you for sitting with us. there was a summit last year, the first year, and at the end of the summit, they published a paper that had five points. the one that came down 2 at the end where there was conflict was around teaching and it has to do with teacher evaluation. >> this conversation is going on across the globe. which is very exciting for the united states.
before i get into an answer, we have to praise this administration for finally getting involved in the international conversation about education. we have never done it in this country before. the other countries have been meeting for years and we're finally part of that conversation which is positive for us. teacher evaluation -- every teacher knows a make a difference in how a child learns. they would not come to work every day if they did not believe it. the challenge is how do you assess what they do and whether they are achieving that success with kids? what everyone of checks to in the profession is you cannot tell whether i am doing a good job based on the score of a single test. what a child does on a single day on a single test does not reflect what the child is learning and does not do justice to the child's learning first of all and it does not do justice
to what the teacher is doing to move that deadline for. we are looking for ways to capture that so that is meaningful. everyone that i know who was an adult in their job, the one skills they learned in school that it never used again is how to take a bubble test. nobody does that. i've never had my boss say fill out this and that's how we're going to tell whether you have succeeded or not. every job i have ever had requires hitting a certain goal and people did not tell me how e were clear in the goal and it was up to me to get there and i could use my skills and collaborate with others to get there. >> we are a big country, we are an important country. what will other countries take away from the united states from the summit? >> the first thing, even the most of the country's outperform
us which is how they are here, this is the program for international student achievement. based on those scores, these countries outperform us and these are pretty interesting test. they do not measure against a narrow range of outcomes. i think it is interesting for the world to see the united states is finally participating in this and that we care. our reputation worldwide is we are the most creative country on earth. everyone comes here to learn about what we are creating and they take it back and do with it what they will. the other countries have appreciated that the united states is now at the table with them. the real learning has to take place in the u.s.. when we listen to the various ways these countries are achieving the success they are achieving, we cannot continue to
follow the policies that have been promoted over the last 10 years in education because they are 180 degrees off what the high performing countries are doing. >> what would be the number one priority? >> the number one priority for me would be to stop setting up all our systems so that their punitive, so they're about compliance. that is not what school is. if you are going to measure teachers based on how you think according to a test how students are achieving, teachers will naturally not want to go into the lowest performing schools. they will not want to teach the highest risk children because they know they're not going to get the results and they're likely to eat lose their jobs. in china, one have a low performing school, the good to a high performing school, take a principled and members of the team and their reward is to go and take over a low performing school. the culture says look to these
people are, they're so good that our government is putting them in is harder situation and they are rewarded for excellence, they are -- their reward is helping people are less fortunate. that is not what happens in the united states. >> thank you. >> "this is america" is made possible by the national education association, the nation's largest advocate for children and public education. the american federation of teachers, a union of professionals. poongsan corporation, forging a higher global standard.
the ctc foundation. afo communications. the rotondaro family trust. >> having heard so much about finland's successes in public education, i had a chance to sit down and talk with tapio kosunen from the ministry of education in finland. why is education in finland so successful? what's the real answer? >> the real answer is education is very much appreciated in finland. >> by the general public? >> yes. we see that as a means to a decent life, well-being and to climb the social ladder. >> you are not so much concerned, if i'm hearing you
correctly, not so much with scores and statistics, but more as a total human being? >> yes. that's the point. but we do not use any standardized tests. >> would you say that again outloud? >> we do not use any standardized tests in finland. we have one standardized test which is an examination after secondary school. >> toward the end of their time in secondary school. tests are not important band rankings are not important -- and that rankings are not important, and competition is not important? >> no. if you want a comparison between
countries, the differences between schools are the smallest one. we tend to think every school has to be a good school with good teachers and if you ask parents which school they want, it's the nearest one. the difference is not in quality. >> i gather that people who are citizens of the country, whether they are immigrants or poor, whether they might be youngsters with some kind of disability, they are all treated the same? try to mainstream them all into the same classroom? >> yes. and it is free, of course. we want to educate every citizen. whoet's take a youngster
for whatever the reasons might be, behavioral problems or when i was coming up, they might call them slow learners or kids to have some kind of disability. there is a phrase i gather in finland which is what ever it takes -- whatever it takes to bring this child along is what we do? >> yes. they have quite a lot of support services like free meals, psychological services, health care, and every child with learning disabilities gets helped through the program. >> within this kind of mainstreaming of everyone, what
is the attitude toward kids playing? do they take breaks and get outside and run around? >> yes. the length of an hour, about 45 minutes. they have a break. >> a lesson and then a break? >> yes. >> how often does that happen during the course of the day? >> after every lesson. if the teacher wants to. >> after every lesson there is a break? >> yes. >> i love it so far. what do you make off the beaten track of some questions i have in my mind, what do you make with the obsession in america with tests? >> we do not use test because we don't believe in them. it's based on a different ground. what we want is that the child
learns and the support services and teaching is importance and enhances learning in the same way school leaders support teachers and support the learning of the child. it works like this. >> very early on, the kids are being exposed to music and the arts and religion and so on and so forth? that's all part of really early schooling? >> we start when the child is 7 years old. the curriculum consists of several subjects. >> how are teachers respected in finland?
>> teachers have a high respect. eight teachers profession is one of the five most popular professions in finland. >> one of the most popular? >> yes, like doctors. >> are they will pay? >> reasonably. every teacher in finland studies at the university. it's the question of a master's degree, five years. they have to have a master's degree. >> they have to have a master's degree to be in the classroom? >> yes. permanently. >> the standard is set very high. >> it is. we think we need professionals with skills. then we can trust them. >> you trust them? >> that's important. >> what can america learn from you?
>> america has chosen may be another way to improve education. a way that consists of using tests and different pay of teachers salaries and so on. quite many aspects which are different from the scandinavian way of thinking. i'm not sure what america would learn from us. i would hope something. >> i gather from what i'm hearing is that we are learning a great deal. i just had a conversation with our secretary of education. i feel a shift coming on. >> that is interesting. >> thank you very much for spending time with us and thank you for the education. at home and abroad. >> it's a pleasure.
>> i spoke with cheryl williams, the executive director of the learning first alliance of some of the teaching issues we are dealing with right here in america. >> what are you going to take away from this summit meeting from other countries that we can learn and what are we contributing to educating other countries? >> -- what are we doing right and what should we be learning? >> what we should be learning is the wisdom of these other countries. the conversation i just left was around early learning and countries that are really investing a lot in one and two year-old santa play and learning and figuring out -- >> because education is not just a bunch of facts. >> a lot of these countries, both the asian countries and european and scandinavian
countries, around educating for values and citizenship and civic responsibility, those are things are standardized tests don't even come close to. yet we measure ourselves -- it's important children know how to read and compute and we know that. but it's important all of us understand personal responsibility, civic responsibility, and what it means to be a citizen in a democracy. i think we can learn a lot from that. one of the things the united states is still the best that internationally is producing innovators or people the question. if we can integrate more of that into what we say we want from our students in our public schools, where is our strength? people still want to come here. >> let me head toward the finish
line and put three t's on the table -- a teacher evaluation, teaching to the test, turning around troubled schools. those are three areas that come up over and over and over again in the public discourse. >> what me start with the one that is the simplest -- teaching to the test. it is the one place -- i am a former junior high school english and language arts teacher. if i were being judged by my students' standardized test scores, i would have gotten an a because i taught in a very affluent public school system where they did well on tests regardless of the quality of the teacher. when we get to the teacher evaluation peace -- i have been disappointed in the education community talking about teaching to the test. if you are teaching kids really well, they will do well on the
test. the comment that has been made by some educators that has really disappointed me is we can't teach social studies because we're too busy teaching reading. you can't teach social studies unless kids are reading. there are all sorts of cross curricular things we can do. i think teaching to the test should be off table. it should be good teaching and the test will follow. teacher evaluations, we just had something very interesting -- someone said we don't have any professions are paid for performance exit salespeople. there is no other profession which people are compensated based on performance that is measured by numbers. teacher evaluations, the evaluation part should be part of the collaborative leadership that helps teachers get better. if we believe all kids can
learn, we ought to believe all teachers can get better if they're given the right support and the right help. if they cannot, they need to be counseled into a profession where they can succeed. >> and turning around troubled schools? >> that is very much a community activity. it is not a matter of coming in and firing everybody in the building. there is not one answer to a turnaround school accepted as a community responsibility and the community will tell you, if it in the community is poor and disenfranchised, you have to widen the community and get more people to care about it and attention. >> when a youngster graduates from high school and have been in school for 12 years, what do you want that youngster to take away from that school experience? >> after 12 years, i want that person -- if he or she does not
know what they want to do, to of least have a place to go and be interested to continue exploration whether it's taken -- whether it's a community college, university or apprenticeships. i was just at the tribeca flashpoint academy in chicago and they're taking kids and teaching them how to do digital production. in two years, they come out and they'll get jobs. just that they want to keep exploring. >> thank you. to learn more about teacher unions abroad, i spoke with the federal president of the australian education union. how would you judge the level of success of this summit? >> i think it has been highly successful. bringing together ministers and union leaders from 24 countries to engage in a deep conversation about how we can improve education is great.
>> what can we learn from each other? can we learn from each other really? >> absolutely. it reflects arrogance to suggest we cannot learn from each other. we're talking bout countries that we call high-performance countries and a rapidly improving countries in attendance at the summit and we can all learn from each other. i don't think anyone can suggest we of the policy mix right in just one country. we challenge each other and through that challenge, we learn. >> let our viewers learn from you -- back home, does the government set the standard as far as education is concerned? >> the government sets policy directions, and so it should. but where the challenge exists even in australia is the government in which the government interests teachers to perform their tasks in their classrooms every single day. will we learn from high performing countries like finland, shanghai and hong kong is there's a great deal of trust
in teachers. through that trust, there's a great deal of professional autonomy to conduct teacher learning in the classroom. the countries that are not performing as well tend to micromanage a lot more what happens in a classroom. >> there is kind of a possessiveness and thinking we know what's best in the classroom. >> that is correct. that has been shown not to be the case. certainly, government should set broad parameters and from work with what we expect children to learn while in school. but thereafter, advising the actual curriculum, assessing and reporting that curriculum, there should be a great deal of professional autonomy for teachers to do that. that is when teachers are at their best. >> trust is important? >> absolutely. are there unions involved in the umbrella of teaching profession?
>> we are pretty involved. what we have learned through this summit is high performing countries, unions and representatives of teachers are integral to their success. if you want to achieve sound educational reform, you need to engage the profession in the development and articulation of policies. teacher unions are not the obstacle. they are enablers to ensure professions in gauge and the liver and employment. >> do you shake your head in disbelief when you hear about the head crunched between the unions and the teaching profession leaders here in the united states? >> regrettably, it's not only here in the united states. that is highly regrettable. there is nothing to be gained through such behavior. when we are working together collaborative lee, that is when we are at our best. >> the unions are frequently
there to make sure the environment teachers are working in is satisfactory and to make sure their compensation is fair and reasonable. but this area of the evaluation always seems to come in conflict. >> that is because it is simplistic recipes for evaluations. i've yet to be a teacher anywhere in the world doesn't go into their classroom with one intention and that is to improve on. i don't think teachers have been more accountable than any other time in history as we are now. parental scrutiny, political scrutiny, media scrutiny, still in scrutiny. we have never been more accountable. we accept accountability. all we say is while we accept our responsibility towards our student, we just want government to make sure our classrooms are
properly resource because ultimately there is one goal and that is to ensure every child reaches his or her full potential. >> are there challenges you face back home we should know about so we don't feel like we are the only ones? >> i have visited the states and -- i have visited the states in a number of times. we call it sharing the pain because regrettably, we see in australia the importation of some policies from the u.s. which we don't believe will put us in good stead to further improve our education systems. i mean and over emphasis on standardized testing and over emphasis on standardization of curriculum. what high performance countries are telling us are more respect for the profession and more autonomy and that teachers get on with the task. >> do you think that message is coming clear to both sides?
that is crucial. >> the summit is very helpful in that regard. when you have ministers of education from high performing countries and say this is what our recipe for success looks like and it stands in distinction with which you are doing with your country, it's a wake-up call for policy makers and it challenges them and they start reflecting on their own policy. >> thank you for visiting with us. a terrific conversation. thank you very much. for information about my new book and online video for all "this is america programs, visit our web site. >> "this is america" is made possible by the national education association, the nation's largest advocate for children and public education.