Finnish Lessons: What We Learned from Pasi Sahlberg

By Lisa Guisbond

We all got a taste of Finnish education from Pasi Sahlberg Wednesday night, and boy did it taste good! In describing his country’s approach to school reform, the Finnish educator and author filled First Parish Church with hope and optimism by showing us “some new ideas about what is possible, not just about what is wrong.”

Pasi did not shy away from critiquing the ways U.S. education reform has gone astray. “You are testing your kids too much, it is too expensive, and it has negative consequences for students.” (According to Pasi, an expression I thought was a piece of American folk wisdom is also used in Finland: “Weighing the pig doesn’t make it fatter.” The difference is, in Finland, they take this to heart!)

Pasi described a system that spends less than the U.S. Nevertheless, it gives all schools equitable resources, has well-trained and highly respected teachers, little standardized testing, and recognizes children’s need for play and creative expression.   → Read More

The Real Impact of Charters on Education Equity, Accountability

The crowd that filled Madison Park High School’s Cardinal Hall on January 25 heard a wide-ranging, rich presentation on the impact of charter schools in Massachusetts. Parents, educators and advocates provided a multifaceted presentation on the charter schools, with several unifying themes.


KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Charters Foster Inequity – Winners and Losers

Keynote speaker Dr. Daniella Ann Cook, Assistant Professor in the Department of Instruction at the University of South Carolina, reported on her research into the transforming of the New Orleans Public Schools into, as of next year, the nation’s first all-charter system.

Cook said school reform is far more than a technical discussion of curriculum and instruction; it is always political, social and racial. She noted that charter proponents saw New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina as a “green field of opportunity,” a way to wipe away the existing system and put in place something entirely new. She noted that among those wiped away from this mostly black school system were black teachers (an issue that resonates in Boston).   → Read More