The Finnish miracle

No shoes but plenty of service: The surprising features of the world's top-performing schools.

Can you name a famous person in Finland? Historical episode? Imposing landmark? Foodstuff? It’s not that Finland doesn’t have its share of Olympic athletes, brilliant architects, and technology moguls, but “Nokia” is all most people can mutter when asked about this small northern nation.

Unless you’re a teacher. Then the word “Finland” fills you with awe. Because everyone in the schooling profession knows that Finland is the international all-star of education.

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High South Korea test scores, higher expectations, and presidential hype

Should South Korean schools point the way to American reforms?

Last year President Barack Obama touted hardworking South Korean schools as a role model for our education system. “Our children spend over a month less in school than children in South Korea,” he told the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “That is no way to prepare them for a 21st-century economy.” If Obama’s point that U.S. students need to study more had many nodding in agreement, choosing South Korea as a benchmark for excellence in education had others scratching their heads.

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Kansas to try Finland’s anti-bullying program

Bullies in Lawrence, KS are about to get Finn-ished.

That’s right, bullies lurking in school hallways and playgrounds in this prairie state town will soon have to face a fearsome opponent. The state is instituting a winning anti-bullying policy from Europe’s #1 nation in public education, Finland.

KiVa — a “holistic” anti-bullying program that enlists support from the entire school community — is flurrying in the Nordic nation of Finland like a benevolent blizzard, freezing harassment in its tracks. 

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Navigating the system: Oakland

Looking for a school in Oakland? Let us help by giving you the inside scoop.

Oakland’s amenities are phenomenal. Its Mediterranean climate is rated best in the United States; its 100 parks provide one of the highest percentages of open spaces per capita in the nation; its three professional sports teams include the NBA champion Golden State Warriors; its recognized as a world-class food destination, especially in the Temescal, Rockridge, and Fruitvale neighborhoods. The city has pro-sports teams, a symphony, a zoo, museums, Art Deco architecture and high-quality colleges and universities nearby. All this, with median home costs only half that of foggy, windy San Francisco across the Bay.

But what about the schools?   Read the rest of the essay HERE

Navigating the system: Washington, DC

Scoring a primo school in the nation’s capital can seem as daunting as erasing the national debt. Yes, it’s tough, but these insider tricks just might save you.

The pressure’s on! You live in Washington D.C., vortex of power, neural cortex of the nation. Moneycnn.com calls DC “America’s brainiest place to live” because the percentage of college graduates is nearly twice the national average. People around you ponder important ideas all day long. It’s the ideal place to raise your bright children, right? You just need to enroll them in a top-notch school.

Alas, this task can seem as formidable as erasing the national debt. 

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Navigating the system: St. Louis

Searching for a school in St. Louis? Let us make the process a little easier.

Mark Twain once quipped, “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

Twain’s sarcastic dismissal of the “readin, ritin, and rithmetic” classes that he attended (or avoided) in his home state of Missouri is not a sentiment you want your children to share if they attend school in the “Show Me” state. But finding a good school in the St. Louis school district can be tricky. In 2007, it was declared a “failed” district because of its deep budget deficit and inability to meet passable standards in attendance, math scores, and language scores. At that point, Missouri’s state government took over the district. A state-appointed Special Administration Board is overseeing public education here until at least June, 2014.

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