Tag Archives: Finland

U.S. adults fail math, reading, and problem-solving

Then adults fail to provide sufficient education for U.S. children to succeed in an educated world. But we can change that. Korea and Finland did, and we can, too.

Kimberly Hefling wrote for AP Tuesday, American adults score poorly on global test,

U.S. In math, reading and problem-solving using technology—all skills considered critical for global competitiveness and economic strength—American adults scored below the international average on a global test, according to results released Tuesday.

Adults in Japan, Canada, Australia, Finland and multiple other countries scored significantly higher than the United States in all three areas on the test. Beyond basic reading and math, respondents were tested on activities such as calculating mileage reimbursement due to a salesman, sorting email and comparing food expiration dates on grocery store tags.

Too bad they didn’t test picking political candidates to elect. Apparently at least a minority of U.S. adults failed that, too. I would quote from the actual test, but this is what we find at ncs.ed.gov today: Continue reading

Centralized Nuclear Bad Investment?

A writer for Forbes spells out the question of nuclear investment: how can something that expensive, over-budget, late, and phenomenally risky be a good investment, especially when cheaper and faster energy sources are readily available?

Peter Kelly-Detwiler wrote for Forbes today, New Centralized Nuclear Plants: Still an Investment Worth Making?

Just a few years ago, the US nuclear renaissance seemed at hand. It probably shouldn’t have been. Cost overruns from Finland to France to the US were already becoming manifest, government guarantees were in doubt, and shale gas drillers were beginning to punch holes into the ground with abandon.

Then came Fukushima. The latter proved a somewhat astonishing reminder of forgotten lessons about nuclear power risks, unique to that technology: A failure of one power plant in an isolated location can create a contagion in countries far away, and even where somewhat different variants of that technology are in use. Just as Three Mile Island put the kaibosh on nuclear power in the US for decades, Fukushima appears to have done the same for Japan and Germany, at a minimum. It certainly did not help public opinion, and at a minimum, the effect of Fukushima will likely be to increase permitting and associated regulatory costs.

He goes into detail: they take too long (while gas and solar got cheaper), they’re extremely expensive to build and run, and they’re all-or-nothing investments.

I was going to compile this list of recent nuclear financial failures, but he saves us all the trouble:

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There are no private schools in Finland: the opposite of Atlanta-imposed charter schools

Privatizing isn’t the answer, rote tests are irrelevant, and competition doesn’t help win. Those are a few of the lessons Finland learned that made its schools world leaders in education. So why would we consider letting Atlanta force privatized charter schools on us?

Anu Partanen wrote for the Atlantic 29 December 2011, What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland’s School Success

“Oh,” he mentioned at one point, “and there are no private schools in Finland.”

Pasi Sahlberg, director of the Finnish Ministry of Education’s Center for International Mobility and author of the new book Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland, said that offhand while talking at a private school in New York. Nobody seemed to pay much attention. Maybe we should.

He also noted Finland has no standardized tests until the equivalent of high school graduation, and they don’t have any particular system for accountability for teachers or administrators.

“Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted.”

So why do teachers and administrators in Finland so successfully take that responsibility?

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Arrogance of (Georgia) Power —Michael Noll

Received yesterday on Smart Metering in Finland Compared to Georgia Power; also as a facebook note. -jsq

ONLY a monopoly like Georgia Power can proclaim to be “environmentally responsible” yet operate some of the worst coal power plants in the nation. Its Scherer Plant near Macon even leads the pack in regard to greenhouse gas emissions. Do they not understand the reality of global warming? Do they not notice ongoing drought conditions throughout the country (see http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/)? And why, in the context of these drought conditions, are they still investing in technologies (e.g. coal, nuclear, biomass) that need enormous amounts of water for cooling purposes?

ONLY a monopoly like Georgia Power can claim to “care” for the well being of our society when they operate the nation’s largest biomass incinerator, run the nation’s worst coal firing plant, and are pushing for new nuclear power plants. Have they not heard of Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island? How can they still ignore the mounting evidence in regard to the side-effects of the vast pollution coming from their coal and biomass plants (see http://www.wiregrass-ace.org/linked/second-opinion.pdf)?

ONLY a monopoly like Georgia Power can pretend to “respect” its customers when it forces them to pay for the construction of nuclear power plants nobody wants, or when it chooses intimidation as a tool to push through “smart meters”. The notion that you can’t have electricity without “smart meters” is not only ludicrous but reminds one on “leadership qualities” you expect to find in North Korea but not in the US. By the way, one should note that states like California have given their customers the possibility (dare I say right?) to “opt out” (see http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/more-california-utilities-required-let-customers-opt-out-smart-meters.html ).

by Michael Noll on Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 12:33pm ·

PS: In case anyone wonders, I am not differentiating between Georgia Power and the entity that controls it: Southern Company.

Smart Metering in Finland Compared to Georgia Power

Georgia Power: putting customer convenience and utility last! Let’s compare how Georgia Power is “selling” its smart meters to how one of the leaders in smart metering in Europe does it. Let’s compare Finland to Georgia Power. The result may give you reason to vote in the Public Service Commissioner election going on right now.

Current Smart Meter customer benefits include:

With the Smart Meter program, your electric meter will be read remotely through communication towers. In the future, a number of new customer benefits will become available, including access to online energy usage information.
  • Reading your meter and generating your bill without having a representative visit your property on a regular basis.
  • Reducing the time needed to handle service orders, such as starting or stopping power.
  • Remotely checking a meter to ensure it is working properly.
  • Reducing the number of vehicles on the road resulting in less pollution and fuel saving because in-person meter readings are not required.
  • Power outage notification — In the event of a power outage in your area, Smart Meters help us better manage power restoration.
Future Smart Meter benefits include:
  • Accessing energy usage information online — view your hourly and daily usage.
  • Offering innovative rate options that meet your lifestyle — better manage your energy usage and control your energy bill.

All of the immediate benefits are tailored for the power company, not the customer. Sure, you might like not having a Georgia Power employee on your property, but the real benefit is to Georgia Power in reducing costs. The direct benefits to the customer are all deferred to some unspecified time in the future.

Meanwhile, for Finland, Look at page 32 of this report: European Smart Metering Landscape Report, by Stephan Renner, Mihaela Albu, Henk van Elburg, Christoph Heinemann, Artur Łazicki, Lauri Penttinen, Francisco Puente, Hanne Sæle, smartregions.net, Vienna, February 2011,

There are some minimum functional requirements for the metering system defined by the regulator in Finland:
Figure 1: Regulation and implementation of smart metering in Europe, page 14
  • Remotely readable hourly interval measurement data available next day to market actors including the customer;
  • If requested by the customer, the DSO must deliver metering equipment that has standardised connection for real-time hourly based monitoring;
  • Consumer must receive the data at the latest when the electricity seller receives it;
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Copy charter schools or something else that works?

Instead of copying failed experiments like Hamilton County, Tennessee, how about copying some of the charter schools that do work? Or some other model that actually does work to improve education?

Sam Dillon wrote for the NYTimes today, Troubled Schools Try Mimicking the Charters

Classrooms are festooned with college pennants. Hallway placards proclaim: “No Excuses!” Students win prizes for attendance. They start classes earlier and end later than their neighbors; some return to school on Saturdays. And they get to pore over math problems one-on-one with newly hired tutors, many of them former accountants and engineers.

If these new mores at Lee High School, long one of Houston’s most troubled campuses, make it seem like one of those intense charter schools, that is no accident.

In the first experiment of its kind in the country, the Houston public schools are testing whether techniques proven successful in high-performing urban charters can also help raise achievement in regular public schools. Working with Roland G. Fryer, a researcher at Harvard who studies the racial achievement gap, Houston officials last year embraced five key tenets of such charters at nine district secondary schools; this fall, they are expanding the program to 11 elementary schools. A similar effort is beginning in Denver.

Charter schools were supposed to be pilot projects, so why not adopt what works there in public schools?

However, this still seems to be all about test scores. Maybe some public schools could look farther afield, Continue reading

Anyone attending the CUEE meeting expecting a plan … left disappointed. —VDT

While many other people, such as Friends of Valdosta City Schools (FVCS), are trying to prevent the damage to education CUEE is trying to cause through its “unification” referendum, CUEE had a meeting of its educational committee yesterday.

Sharah Denton wrote for the VDT, CUEE focuses on academics:

Anyone attending the CUEE meeting expecting a plan for how unification of the city and county school systems would work left disappointed. Instead of discussing how the school systems might merge if CUEE’s campaign to dissolve the Valdosta school charter succeeds during the Nov. 8 election referendum, the Education Planning Task Force focused on its primary objective: improving academics for area students.
So they have no plan, and of course they also have no control over academics. If “unification” passes, that control would lie with Continue reading

Why is Finland at the top of the world in education?

Attention to weak students. Status and autonomy for teachers. Educators running the show, not business people. All this creates a real educated workforce.

Lynnell Hancock wrote for Smithsonian Magazine September 2011, Why Are Finland’s Schools Successful? Here’s a clue:

“Children from wealthy families with lots of education can be taught by stupid teachers,” Louhivuori said, smiling. “We try to catch the weak students. It’s deep in our thinking.”
So what do they do? Drill the weak students on test questions? Nope: Continue reading