Comment of the Day: Bloix: International Education Comparisons: “I suspect the positive aspect of having highly unionized teachers…

…is that they are better paid (or otherwise better treated) and so the profession is more attractive, with the result that on average teachers are better. It is not unionism as such that is positive, it is paying teachers well (and perhaps also investing in improving their performance)….
Massachusetts (one of nine states with state-only results) did statistically the same as Japan and better than Russia, Finland (FINLAND!) and all the rest. Massachusetts kids lag only behind the four Asian leaders, and no one wants to subject US kids to schools like those in Korea and Singapore. http://nces.ed.gov/timss/pdf/results11_Massachusetts_Math.pdfMassachusetts has a slightly larger population than Finland, it’s more culturally diverse and — I suspect — it’s more economically unequal. And it teaches math better than the vaunted Fins. If we want to know how to improve US math education, the answer is in Boston and Springfield, not in Helsinki. Of course, Massachusetts teachers are highly unionized, so I doubt we’ll be hearing much about the Massachusetts model from reformers like Kristoff.