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tv   This Is America With Dennis Wholey  WHUT  September 30, 2012 6:00pm-6:30pm EDT

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>> we recently traveled to new york city to observe the international summit on 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. >> happy to be here. >> there was a summit last year. at the end of the summit they published a paper that had four -- 5 points. at the end, it came around
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teaching and it had to do with teacher evaluations. >> this is hard. we were talking about this this morning. the conversation is going on around the world, which is exciting, particularly for the united states. before i get your answer, we have to praise this administration for getting involved on in the -- involved in the international conversation. we have never done that before. we are part of that conversation, which i think is very positive for us. so, a teacher evaluation. every teacher knows they make a difference in how a child learns. they would not come to work if they did not believe that. the challenge is, how do you assess what they are achieving with kids? what everybody objects to within the profession is you cannot tell if you're doing a good job based on the score on a single
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test. what a child does on a single test, on a single day does not do justice to the child's learning, first of all, and does not do justice to the teachers trying to move that learning forward. we are all looking for ways to capture that. so it is meaningful. so we know when teachers are doing well. everyone i know who is an adult in their job, the one skill they learned in school they never use again is how to take a bubble test. nobody does that. i have never gone to work and had my boss say, fill out this form and we will tell whether you succeed or not. every job i have had requires hitting at a certain goal. and people did not tell me how to get to that goal. they were clear on the gold. and it was of to me to get their. i could use my skills. i could use my colleagues, collaborate with others to get
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their. we are a big -- >> we are a big country. what will other countries take away from the united states at this summit? >> most of the countries here outperform us, which is -- >> switches? >> it is the standard for student performance. these countries outperform us. they do not measure against a narrow range of outcomes. so, i think it is interesting for the world to see that the united states is finally participating in this and that we care. because our reputation worldwide is that we are the most creative country on earth. everyone comes here to learn about what we are creating. then they take it back and they do what they will. so, i think the other countries have really appreciated that the united states is now at the table with them.
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i think when we listen to the various ways these countries are achieving the success they are achieving, we cannot continue -- we cannot continue to follow the policies in education because they're 100 degrees off from what successful countries are doing. >> what would be the number one priority? >> number one priority for me would be to stop setting up all of our systems so that they are punitive. so that they are 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 go and teach the highest risk children. because they know they will not get the results and therefore they are likely to lose their job. in china, when they have a low performing schools, they go to a
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high performing school, they take the principal and some of his team, and their reward is to go take over a low performing school. the culture says, oh, my goodness. look at these people. they are so good that our government is putting them in this harder situation. they are rewarded for excellence, and their work is helping people less fortunate. that is not what is happening in united states. >> we can learn? >> we can learn. >> thank you. >> "this is america" is made possible by the national education association, the nation's largest advocate for children and public education. poongsan corporation, forging a higher global standard. the ctc foundation. afo communications.
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and the rotandaro family trust. >> having heard so much about finland's successes in public education, i had a chance to sit and talk with tapio kosunen from the ministry of education in finland. why is education and finland -- wise education in finland so successful? what is the real answer? >> it is very much appreciated. >> appreciated? by the general public? >> by the general public and as a means to have a decent life. >> so, you are not so much concerned, i gather if i am hearing you correctly, not so much with scores and statistics, but more as a total human being? >> yes.
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that is the point. we do not use any standardized tests. >> would you say that again out loud? >> we do not use any standardized tests in finland. actually, we have won a standardized test. which is the examination after secondary school. >> towards the end of their time at secondary schools? >> yes. >> i gather tests are not important. rankings are not important. no? rankings are not important. i gather competition is not important. the school system? >> no. no again. if you would like to make a comparison, the differences between schools is a modest one
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in finland. so, we come to think that every school last to be a quality school with quality teachers. it will be the nearest one. the differences between decollate -- the quality is so low. >> i gather that whether people are citizens of the country, at immigrants, poor, whether they might be youngsters with some kind of disability, all treated the same. all trying to mainstream in the same classroom. >> yes, and it is free for them, of course. we want to educate every citizen. >> let's take a youngster who for whatever the reasons might be -- behavioral problems or i guess when i was coming up they
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might call them slow learners, you know, kids who have some kind of disability -- there is a phrase that i gather in finland, which is "whatever it takes." whatever it takes to bring this child along is what we do. >> something about that i would say. they have quite a lot of support and services. there are psychological services. healthcare. and actually every child gets help with a problem. >> again, mainstreaming everyone, people all working together. >> yes, yes. >> what is the attitude in
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finland it towards kids playing? >> playing? >> do they take breaks? do they get outside and run around? >> yes, actually, the length of an hour, about 45 minutes. that is the lesson and the break. >> a lesson and a break? >> yes. >> how often does that happen during the course of the day? >> as often as the teacher wants to. >> every lesson there is a break? >> yes. [laughter] >> i love it so far. what do you make with the obsession in america with tests? >> well, we don't use tests because we do not believe in them. the evaluation assessment is different. is based on a different ground. -- it is based on a different ground. what we want to do is make sure the child has the support
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services and the teaching is importance. in the semi, -- in the same way, the school leaders support the teachers'. that is very important. >> i gather very early on the kids are being exposed to music and the arts and religion and so on and so forth? s all part of really early schooling? >> i believe so. we start school in the year when the child is 7 years old. well, the curriculum covers the subjects of course. that is how it goes. >> however teachers respected there in finland that's correct teachers are very highly respected. the teaching profession is one
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of the five most popular profession in the inland. >> one of the five most popular? >> yes. like doctors, lawyers. >> are they will pay? >> reasonably. -- are they well paid? >> recently. every teacher in finland studies at the university. >> they have a master's? do they have to have a master's degree to be in the classroom? >> yes. permanently. >> said the standard is set very high? >> it is, because we think we need professionals with skills. then we can trust them. >> you can trust them? >> yes. that is important. >> what can america learn from you? >> well, america has chosen may be another way to improve
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education. it consists of using tests and ranking of teachers and salaries and so on. it is different from the scandinavian way of thinking or the finnish way of thinking. i am not sure what you would learn from us. i hope something. >> i gather we are learning a great deal. i just had a conversation with our secretary of education. i feel a shift coming on. >> ok. that is interesting. >> we thank you so much for spending time with us. thank you for the education. at home and abroad. >> thank you. >> i spoke with cheryl williams. she is the executive director of
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the learning first alliance about 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? >> well, i don't -- >> what are we doing right? what should we be learning? >> what is interesting, well, what we should be learning, the conversation i just left was around early learning. and countries that are really investing a lot in one-year olds and two-year olds. in the nursery and figuring out the brain. >> because education is not just a bunch of fax. >> no. the emphasis in a lot of these countries, the asian countries and the european and scandinavian countries, it is
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educating for values and civic responsibility. those are things that are standardized tests do not even come close to. and yet we measure ourselves by -- i mean, it is important to our children know how to read and compute. we know that. but it is also important that we understand 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, i would say, the best act -- the best at internationally is creating innovators, people who questioned. if we can integrate more of that into what we say we want from students and public schools, if we can figure out what is our strength? people still want to come here. >> yes. that we head toward the finish line. let me put teaching evaluations,
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teaching to the test, and troubled schools on the table. those are three areas that come up over and over and over again in the public discourse. >> let me start with the one that for me is the simplest. teaching to the test. i am a former junior high school and high-school english language arts teacher. i did not teach long enough and i did not teach when they work -- you know, actually, if i would be judged by my students' standardized test scores, i would probably get a good score because i've taught in a very affluent area and they tested well on standardized tests. in the education, they talk about teaching to the test. i think if you are teaching kids really well, they will do well on the test. the comment that has been made by some educators, not all, that
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has really disappointed me is we cannot teach social studies because we are too busy teaching reading. i have got news for you. you cannot teach social studies unless you are teaching reading. there are all sorts of cross- curriculum things you can do. i think teaching is first in the test will follow. teaching evaluations. they said something very interesting in their. they do not pay for performance except in salespeople. there is no other profession where people are compensated based on performance that is measured by numbers. so, i think that teacher evaluations, the evaluation part should be part of the collaborative leadership that helps kids do better. we believe all teachers can get better if they are given the right support and the right help. if they cannot, they need to be
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counseled into a profession where they can succeed. >> and the third point, turning around troubled schools? >> is very much of community activity. frequently, it is not a matter of coming in and firing every professional in the building. frequently you need new leadership. there is not one answer to turn around schools accept it is a community responsibility. if the immediate community is poor and disenfranchised, then you have got to widen that community and get more people to care about this and pay attention to it. >> last thought. when the youngster graduates from high school and they have been in school 12 years now, what do you want that youngster to take away from that school experience? >> after 12 years, and one that young person to have an idea -- if he or she does not know what they want to do or what work they want to do, to at least have a place to go and be
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interested in a place to go to continue that exploration. whether it is a community college, a four-year institution, and apprenticeships. i was just at tribeca in chicago and they are taking these kids and teaching them how to do production and this kind of work. in two years, they come out and they all get jobs. just so they know what they do not know and want to keep exploring. terrific -- >> terrific. thank you. >> thank you. >> to learn more, i spoke with the federal president of the australian education union. >> how would you judge the level of success of the summit? >> i think it has been successful. bringing together the ministers and union leaders from 24 countries to engage in a conversation about how we can improve education is great. >> so, what can we learn from each other? can we learn from each other really? >> i think so.
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i think it reflects arrogance to suggest we cannot learn from each other. we are talking about countries that represent what we call high performing countries and rapidly improving countries in attendance at the summit. we can all learn from each other. i do not think anyone will suggest we have the policy mix right in any one country. therefore we challenge each other and through that challenge we learn. >> let me learn from you and let our viewers learn from you. back home, does the government set the standard as far as education is concerned? >> the government sets policy direction, so it should. but ultimately where the challenge exists even in australia is the steps to which the government in trusts teachers to perform in classrooms every single day. what we learn from high performing countries -- ontario, a shanghai, hong kong -- there's a great deal of trust in teachers.
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they have it upgraded one of -- i have a great deal of autonomy in teaching in the classroom. less performing countries tend to micromanage. >> so, it is thinking we know what is best in the classroom? >> that is correct. that has been shown to not be the case. certainly the government should set broad parameters. thereafter, the actual curriculum, assessing the curriculum, reporting on the curriculum, there should be a great deal of professional autonomy for teachers in order to do that. >> so, trust is important? >> absolutely. >> thinking back home, are there unions involved in the umbrella of the teaching profession? >> we are pretty involved. what we have learned from this summit, those high performing
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countries, those unions are enter cooled to the success. if you -- integral to the success. need to involve the profession in the development of policy and thereafter the articulation of policies. teachers are not the obstacle. they are enablers for government to engage and implement. >> do you shake your head a little bit in disbelief when you hear about the head crunched between the unions and the teaching professional leaders here in united states? >> regrettably, it is not only here in united states. we see that all too often. 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 quite frequently are there to make sure that the environment the teachers are working in a satisfactory and
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improve that. also to make sure their compensation is fair and reasonable. of this area of the valuation always seems to come -- but this area of evaluation always seems to come into conflict. >> that is because of recipes for evaluation. i have yet to meet a teacher anywhere in the world who does not go into their classroom with one intention and one intention only, and that is to improve on the previous day. i do not think teachers have ever been more accountable at any time in history than we are now keeping political scrutiny, media scrutiny, student scrutiny. we have never been more accountable. let's get that right. we are accountable. we except accountability. all we say is the we accept responsibility toward our students, we want government to accept the obligation to make sure classrooms are properly resources the -- properly
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restores -- resourced. >> are the challenges back home that we should know about so we do not feel like we are the only ones? >> we have unions and sometimes we call those visits and reciprocal meetings "sharing the pain." regrettably in australia we see the importation of some policies from the u.s. which we do not believe will put us in good stead to further improve our education system is. by that mean, -- by that, i mean an emphasis on standardized testing and a curriculum. highly performing countries have more teaching autonomy and let teachers get on with the task. >> do you think that message is coming clear to both sides? because that is crucial, isn't it? >> it is. and it is very helpful in that
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regard. when you have ministers of education around the world, and they say, well, this is what our recipe for success looks like and it is in stark contradiction to what you're doing in your country, it is a bit of a wake- up call for policy makers. that is the success of the summit. >> thank you for visiting with us. >> thank you. >> a terrific conversation. for information on my new book "the chance of a lifetime" 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. poongsan corporation, forging a higher global standard.
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the ctc foundation. afo communications. and the rotandaro family trust. >> whether at home or traveling abroad, our goal is to use our weekly "this is america" program to learn about the social, cultural, and political lives of people around the world. we call it "this is america in the world." we are learning about the entire world. you can see all of our programs at and
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