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Finnish lessons summary

What the World can Learn from Finnish Lessons

In the course of about 3 decades ( 1980-2010) , the national education system of Finland progressed from one which was “ nothing special” to one that produces students whose academic achievement is so consistently outstanding that Finland’s system is often referred to as the best in the world. This book describes how Finland achieve that transformation.

In this books , Pasi Sahlberg details the policy decisions that guided that transformation. He documents the choice of polices that chose not to embrace “ tougher competition, more data, abolishing teacher unions, opening more charter schools, or employing corporate world management models in education systems”. To the contrary, Finnish policies focused on “ improving the teaching force, limited student testing to a necessary minimum , placing responsibility and trust before accountability and handing over school and district-level leadership to education professionals. The result is an educational system that “ lacks school inspection, standardized curriculum, high-stakes student assessments, test based accountability and a race-to-the-top mentality with regard to educational change?

Sahlberg characterizes the policies of the current system as

 Having a vision of education committed to building a publicly financed & locally governed basic schools for every child
 Building on educational ideas from other nations to produce unique “ Finnish way” that preserves the best traditions and present good practices
 Systematically developing respectful and interesting working conditions for teachers and leaders in Finnish schools.

The Finnish experience in building an education system in which all students learn well is one that has focused on equity and cooperation rather than choice and competition and that rejects the paying of teachers based on students test scores or converting public schools to private schools.

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Finnish lessons summary

  1. 1. Some Impressionistic takes from the book of “Pasi Sahlberg -“Finnish Lessons” by Ramki – ramaddster@gmail.com
  2. 2. About the Author  Pasi Sahlberg is visiting professor at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  He is former Director General of CIMO (of the Ministry of Education and Culture) in Helsinki, Finland.  He has experience in classroom teaching, training teachers and leaders, coaching schools to change and advising education policy- makers around the world.  He is an international speaker and writer who has given more than 250 keynote speeches and published over 100 articles, chapters and books on educational change.  Pasi has lived and worked in England (King's College), the United States (World Bank in Washington DC) and Italy (European Training Foundation in Torino) and worked in 50 countries all around the world. He earned his PhD from the University of Jyväskylä (Finland) in 1996.  Pasi is a member of the Board of Directors of ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) & IASCE (International Association for the Study of Cooperation in education) in the U.S. & Adjunct Professor at the University of Helsinki and the University of Oulu.  Pasi's book "Finnish Lessons: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland?" (2011) won the 2013 Grawemeyer Award and he received the Upton Sinclair Award in 2011 and Annual Education Award 2012 in Finland.
  3. 3. Prelude  This Book, by Pasi Sahlberg (2011) starts with the thesis of the success of the Finnish education system.  The introduction explains some of the reasons for the success story that is being presented in the five chapters of the book.  Among those reasons are:  Young people learn well in schools with low performance differences;  Teaching is a prestigious profession which attracts many young people;  Finnish teachers education is most competitive in the world; teachers have professional autonomy;  Those who join the profession stay in it for a life;  Before leaving comprehensive schools more than half of the pupils get some kind of educational support.  Standard testing, competition, privatization, etc. which are common in other countries are not considered in the Finnish school system. .
  4. 4. Prelude  The author provides a historical background of the education system with specific emphasis on the introduction of the comprehensive school reform.  Because of its inclusiveness and the principles that all can learn if they get the necessary support, the comprehensive school or Peruskoulu reform of the 1960s and 1970s was the foundation for the later success of the Finnish education system.  The book gives a brief background of the Finnish education system and the reforms of the 1960s and 1970s. It further provides the multidimensional reforms of the last three decades which led to the success story of the education system.
  5. 5. One of the key messages of this book is that unlike many other contemporary systems of education, the Finnish system is not been infected by market-like competition & high stakes testing policies.
  6. 6. Finland
  7. 7. 1790 2010 About Finland Between the West & the East
  8. 8. About Finland  Population 5.5 Million  From the 13th century a part of Sweden  In 1809 ceded to Russia an as autonomous Grand Duchy  Independent parliamentary democracy since 1917  Member of EU since 1995  Two official languages – Finnish & Swedish  Monetary unit Euro  Public Service – 32%,Manufacturing-18%  Finance & business- 14%, Trade- 16%  Construction- 7%  Agriculture & Forestry- 5%  Competitive Market Economy  Low income Equality
  9. 9. 3 Things you need to know Finland has not been always been a high performer
  10. 10. 3 Things you need to know The Most Trusted Public Institutions Police -90% Education System -89% Army -83% Health Care-72% Legal -72%
  11. 11. 3 Things you need to know Finland is performing well in many other areas well
  12. 12. Finland- Education Sector Progress
  13. 13. During the next 10 years about 1.2 billion young 1-to-30 year olds will be entering the job market & with the means now at our disposal about 300 million will get a job. What will we offer these young, about a billion of them? I think this is one of the greatest challenges if we want to achieve peaceful development & hope for these young Martti Ahitisaari-Former President of Finland- 1994-2000
  14. 14.  In the 1970s, Finland’s educational system was very similar to that of the U.S.  Mediocre and inequitable  Top-down testing  Extensive tracking  Highly variable teachers  Government Reboot/Economic Recovery Plan  All teachers must have a government paid-for Master’s Degree  96% of all teachers are unionized  Highly desirable and respected field, along with doctors and lawyers History of Reform Source Anderson, “From Finland, an Intriguing School-Reform Model” New York Times
  15. 15.  In 2000, the first results of the Program for International Students Assessment (PISA) were published.  The assessment is a standardized test given to 15 year- olds in more than 40 “global venues”.  Finnish youth were revealed to be the best young readers in the world.  In 2003, the Finnish youth led the pack in math.  In 2006, Finland was in first science, out of 57 countries.  The world began to take notice of their educational reform methods, especially the US, whose scores barely changed in more than ten years. History of Reform Source Anderson, “From Finland, an Intriguing School-Reform Model” New York Times
  16. 16.  1945- 1970 –Enhancing equal opportunities for education by way of transition from a Northern agricultural nation to an industrialized society.  1965- 1990 – Creating a public comprehensive school system by way of a Nordic welfare society with a growing service sector and increasing levels of technology & technological innovation.  2010- Improving the quality of basic education & expanding higher education in keeping with Finland’s new identity as a high-tech knowledge based economy History of Reform
  17. 17. Structure of Education System in Finland before 1970
  18. 18. Structure of Education System in Finland since1970
  19. 19. 3 Phases of Educational Change  Rethinking the Theoretical & Methodological foundations- 1980s.  Improvement through Networking & self-regulation- 1990s.  Enhancing efficiency of Structures & Administration – 2000- the present.
  20. 20. 3 Phases of Educational change in Finland since the 1980s
  21. 21. Education System 2015
  22. 22. % of variance of student reading performance due to socio-- ‐economic status The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a worldwide study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) in member & non-member nations of 15-year- old school pupils' scholastic performance on mathematics, science, & reading.
  23. 23. Compulsory Education ( Peruskoulu)  This includes grades 1-9 and is designed for all students 7-16 years old.  Grades 1-6 of peruskoulu are referred to as Primary Education;  Grades 7-9 are referred to as Lower Secondary Education. [A year of preschool (for students 6 years old ) is offered prior to the peruskoulu; however, the text does not indicate that preschool is part of compulsory education.]
  24. 24. PARENTS CHOOSE Private daycare SUPERVISED PLAY ACTIVITIES Morning & afternoon activities for schoolchildren Basic education starts at age 7 Pre-school for 6-year-olds Parents care for Children/ arrange daycare Municipal supplements Private child care allowance Municipal supplements Child home care allowance Municipal Purchased services Daycare arranged by municipality Early Childhood Education & Care System (ECEC-system)
  25. 25. Child-Centered Early Education “We have learned so much about child development and the science of teaching and learning from American education researchers.” ~ Pasi Sahlberg
  26. 26. Basic education is provided free of charge comprising all learning materials and a warm lunch daily. The school year stretches to 190 working days, starting in mid August and ending in early June. The maximum duration of a school day is five lessons during the first two years and up to seven lessons from 3rd to 9th year (19 – 30 lessons per week). Basic Education
  27. 27. The Joy of Learning
  28. 28. Non-Compulsory Education-Secondary Education 3 Options to the Students  10th grade  Option for the students choosing not to immediately enter upper- secondary education or employment.  Curriculum includes Arts, crafts and manual trades.  35% after completing grade 10 go on to general-upper secondary school  48% go on to Vocational upper secondary schools.  General Upper-Secondary school  Secondary school option is about 3- 3.5 years duration  Requires completion of 75 courses of 38 lessons each  50 courses focus on the study of 18 required subjects  25 courses are student selected.  Students who successfully completes all course work gets a Upper-secondary education diploma
  29. 29. Upper Secondary Education  Half of the age group chooses the Upper Secondary School; the other half continues to vocational studies.  The National Matriculation Examination consists of exams in the mother tongue, the second national language (FIN/SWE), foreign languages, mathematics, humanities and sciences.  Four of the exams have to be passed for the matriculation certificate, which provides eligibility for universities and higher vocational education
  30. 30. General & Vocational  General Upper-Secondary school  Student access to individual courses offered by a Vocational Upper secondary school is possible.  Student can transfer from General Upper secondary school to Vocational upper secondary school.  Students completing all 50 required courses take the National Matriculation Exam – required for entrance into higher education.  Graduates of general upper secondary may apply to either polytechnics or universities.  Vocational Upper-secondary school  This option is also for 3-3.5 years  Completion of 120 credits selected from 130 programs of study is required for each of 52 “ Vocational Qualifications”.  Of the 120 units of study, 30 are devoted to general or elective courses and 20 are on-the job training.
  31. 31. Vocational  Vocational Upper-secondary school- Contd ….  Student access to individual courses offered by a General Upper-Secondary school is possible .  Student can transfer from vocational Upper-secondary school to general upper-school.  Vocational upper-secondary school graduates have the option of taking the National Matriculation Examination.  Graduates of Vocational Upper Secondary school may apply to either polytechnics or universities.
  32. 32. Higher Education  Finland provides two alternatives  Vocational College ( Polytechnic) -This option requires about 3- 3.5 years of study. The length of a polytechnic program appears to depend upon the specific field being pursued.  University- The University option requires about 3-6 years of study. Again, the length of a university program appears to depend upon the specific field being pursued and , perhaps the level of the degree sought.
  33. 33.  3500 schools, 60,000 teachers  5.9% of National wealth ( GDP) goes to Education  A primary school student costs USD7100 per annum  99% of all education publicly funded  All teachers must hold a master’s degree  95% teachers and principals unionized Finland-Education Indicators
  34. 34.  Long-term & consistent  A vision of a knowledge-based society  Responsibility and decision-making at local level  Culture of trust  No national exams  No inspectors  No public ranking of schools  Equality and equity in education Cornerstones of Finnish Education Policy
  35. 35.  Compulsory from the age of 7 to 16  Supportive measures  Free, no tuition fees  Free lunches  Free books and other materials  Free school health care  Free transportation to school Equality & Equity in Finnish Education
  36. 36. Comparison of Finnish & Global ‘Ed’ Reform Policy
  37. 37. As a nation of modest people, Finland never actually intended to be the best in the world of education
  38. 38. To Summarize this section  Finnish students start formal schooling at age 7.  There is compulsory schooling of 9 years for every child.  All education is publically funded, & there are no fee paying schools  Equity in education for all is the ideal.  Finnish students study much less hours in the classroom.  They also have less homework. Usually not more than ½ hour a day. They usually finish this before going home.  The general finding is that countries with more formal teaching time have less academic achievement!
  39. 39. To Summarize this section  No management approach to education. Educationists decide all aspects of education and education management.  Autonomy to schools and teachers.  However schools have after-school activities and educational or recreational clubs after school hours.  There is high membership of Youth and Sports Clubs.  This contributes significantly to holistic development of students.  Finnish students are among the least stressed
  40. 40. Adult-Child ratio in day care centers 1 to 7 for 3-6 year-olds 1 to 4 for children under 3 years Minimum Secondary level degree 1 in 3 post secondary level degree Adult-Child ratio in family day care 1 to 4 Appropriate training Staffing
  41. 41. Less Pressure, More Respect
  42. 42. Principals : 1 Head & 1 Deputy Head Directorate Group – ( Principals+4 Teachers) 4 Team: Every teacher is member of one team – Meetings every Thursday 8 to 9 Student welfare team 50 Teachers 15 Other personnel Staff for 500 Grade 1-6 Students
  43. 43. Curriculum Sports and natural sciences are emphasized in the lower stage curriculum Elective subjects for the 8th and 9th grade (6 elective lessons weekly in sports, art, home economics, crafts, German/French language, music, etc. ) Elective lessons 1st, 2nd, 5th and 7th grades in art, sports, music, etc. Three periods/ year in upper grade
  44. 44. Special Assistance for Learning Difficulties Clinic-type Teachers Extra funds to prevent the marginalization, about Euro 80,000 per year Two-assistant teachers for grade 1-6 Two Teachers for special needs of the student 3 Special education Teachers 1 School psychologist, 1 Curator ( 3 days/week) 1 health nurse ( 5 days per week)
  45. 45. Finnish Teacher Education Five teaching categories in Finland Pre-school teachers, majoring in educational sciences Class teachers, majoring in educational sciences Subject teachers, majoring in various school inputs Special education teachers, separate degree requirements Vocational education teachers separate degree requirements Entry to teaching is competitive, only 10-15% of the applicants are accepted on national level
  46. 46. The Finnish Advantage –The Teachers
  47. 47. 1. Seven things you need to know  The most popular profession  Strong social mission  Masters level education  Less classroom time  Professional autonomy  Principals are teachers  Parents trust schools Number of teaching hours per year 0 200 400 600 800 1000 Primary Lower secondary Upper secondary Japan OECD average Finland Total annual teaching time in 60-minute hours
  48. 48. 2. Becoming a teacher (1) 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Female Male Applicants to primary teacher education programs in Finnish universities 2001-2010 Accepted
  49. 49. 2. Becoming a teacher (2) Subject teacher education Municipal Field Schools Faculty of Science Faculty of Humanities Faculty of Medicine Faculty of Technology Faculty of Economics Faculty of Education Research Coordination Units Independent Units Regional Units Administration Board Teacher Training School Teacher Training School Faculties with teacher education
  50. 50. 3. Professional development School is a Professional Learning Community  Curriculum development  Student assessment  School improvement Individual and collective effectiveness  Finnish schools  No teacher evaluation  No merit-pay  No census-based standardized tests  No ranking of schools
  51. 51. Quality at entry to teacher education  Only the most able will be accepted (school-leaving examination)  Test of basic knowledge in education (unified entrance test)  Demonstration of skills and commitment (interview) High academic requirements at exit  Evaluated teaching practice  Rigid academic study and course work  Masters degree with research thesis 4. Teacher effectiveness
  52. 52. 5. Accountability in Education system  High degree of trust  Shared responsibility  Intelligent accountability
  53. 53. 6. Equity in Education system  Inclusive education and early support  Equal educational opportunities  System-wide equity
  54. 54. 7. Conclusions and Future Challenges Conclusions  Finland assures high quality teaching by attracting the most able and committed to teaching profession  Finland retains teachers in their jobs by maintaining respectful and inspiring professional conditions in schools for them. Challenges  Preparing teachers for changing Finnish society  Continuous professional development for all teachers  Weakening economic situation or/and strengthening accountability policies may jeopardize current good situation
  55. 55. Teachers in Finland possess a strong sense of being esteemed professional similar to a medical doctor, engineer or economists
  56. 56. To Summarize this section  Teachers in Finland teach for less hours than most other countries  This provides them time to focus on school improvement, curriculum planning and professional development, during school hours.  Besides teaching, they have many responsibilities, including:  Development of their school curriculum & Student assessment  Providing remedial support & Participation in school health activities  Most schools are truly professional learning communities where teaching is a holistic profession, which involves work with students and collaboration with colleagues.  The variation in learning across schools is only about 5%  Highly educated teachers , Good infrastructure  Large autonomy enjoyed by schools  Little interference from central education administration in day to day running  Systematic methods for addressing student problems & Targeted professional help for students in need
  57. 57. Paradox # 1 Teach Less ,Learn More
  58. 58.  Year 2008 study of intended instructional hours for students aged 7-14 in 19 selected OECD countries (not including the U.S.) identified Finland as having the least total number of hours of instruction (about 5400); the Netherlands had the most (about 7900).  Finnish students are free to go home after their shorter days of instruction, but they also may participate in voluntary after-school activities and "clubs" that are judged to contribute to their social and personal development and, hence, to their educational performance.  Finnish teachers use their non-teaching time to attend to such duties as assessing students' achievement and overall progress, developing their school's curriculum, and providing remedial help to individual students.  Finnish educators do not believe in homework that focuses on routine and intellectually unchallenging drill. Finnish students rarely get more than 30 minutes of homework per day; most are able to complete that before leaving school. Teach Less , Learn More
  59. 59.  The 2008 OECD study found that students aged 7-14 in Italy (about 7500 total hours of instruction) had about 2 more years of schooling than did Finns.  Estimates from some U.S. states placed the number of hours at about 7500 -- the same as Italy. Moreover, since many U.S. students begin school at age 5, such students would, by age 15, have had 4 years more years of schooling than their Finnish counterparts.  In comparing instructional time in the lower secondary school (grades 7-9) of Finland with that in grades 7-9 in the United States, the text found that the American teacher of grades 7-9 engages in about 1.75 times the number of annual hours of instruction as a Finnish teacher at that level.  The data of Figure 3.2 (page 91) present slightly different U.S./Finnish ratios of annual instructional hours, ratios that increase across of three levels of schooling: 1.60 in grades 1-6; 1.81 in grades 7-9; and 1.95 in secondary school Teach Less , Learn More
  60. 60. Total number of intended instructions hours in primary & lower secondary schools in 2012 – OECD Countries  Big differences in total number of intended instruction hours in Public institutions between the ages of 7- 14 years in OECD countries.  Formal teaching as a driver of student learning ( Finland, Korea, Estonia).  Lower level of academic achievement –Spain, Israel, France.  Finland children start school at the age of 7, where as in Australia children start school at the age 5.  Finnish 15 year old students spend less time on homework than any other peers nations  Finland-children learn in unsupervised environment
  61. 61. Number of Teaching hours/ year in Primary, Lower-secondary & Upper Secondary Schools in OECD countries- 2012  Lower-Secondary teachers total weekly working time in Finland- 31.6 hours  Australia – 42.7 hours  USA- 44.8 hours  England- 45.9 hours  Singapore- 47.6 hours  34 countries Average – 38.3 hours  On an average 80% of lower secondary teacher’s working time is spent teaching & learning with students.
  62. 62. Paradox # 2 Test Less, Learn More
  63. 63.  Finland does not engage in standardized-test based accountability. PISA data in three testing years (2000, 2003, 2006) showed that PISA mathematics performance scores in accountability-policy nations were in decline.  Mean scores on those assessments of U.S.15-year-olds declined from about 490 to about 475. Finnish scores increased from about 535 to about 545. This suggests that frequent standardized testing is not a necessary or sufficient condition for improving education.  The Finnish education system does include a three-part assessment component: 1. Teacher-designed classroom-based diagnostic, formative, and summative assessment; 2. Semi-annual comprehensive evaluation of each student's progress as a collective judgment of the student's teachers; and 3. A 3-to-4 year cycle of sample-based (about 10% per age cohort) national assessment to measure students' learning in reading, mathematics, science, and other subjects. Schools not included in the national sample may purchase the tests. While classroom assessment occupies "a significant amount of out-of-classroom working time" of teachers, the total annual cost of national assessment is less than $5 million. Test Less , Learn More
  64. 64. Paradox # 3 More Equity through growing diversity
  65. 65. More Equity through growing diversity  Ethnic diversity in Finland is increasing.  In 1980, about 12,850 residents were foreign-born.  In 2010, that number had increased 19-fold to about 248,100 and accounted for 4.7% of Finland's inhabitants.  In the peruskoulu of Helsinki, 10% of students are immigrants; 40 languages are spoken.  The main policy goal behind the development of the peruskoulu was equal education for all. Therefore, all students are placed in regular schools unless there is a specific reason to do otherwise.  Research on the effect of increased ethnic diversity found:  PISA data prior to 2009 showed that immigrant students perform significantly better in Finnish schools than in other countries; and  Overall classroom performance in Finland began to decline when the proportion of foreign students reached 20%.
  66. 66.  Poverty (defined as family income that is 50% below the national average) effects teaching and learning.  The poverty rate in Finland is 3.4%; in the U.S., it is 21.7%. Finland gives systemic attention to social justice and early intervention for those in need.  The level of student performance has continuously increased and variation in student performance has decreased during a period when Finnish society has become more culturally diverse and socially complex. More Equity through growing diversity
  67. 67. Finnish Lessons Underlying Notions
  68. 68. 1 Finland has an education system in which young people learn well and performance differences among schools are small -- and all with reasonable cost and human effort 2 The above has not always been so
  69. 69. 3 Teaching is widely viewed as a prestigious profession
  70. 70. 4 Finland has one of the World’s most competitive teacher- preparation systems
  71. 71. 5 Finnish Teachers have a great deal of professional autonomy and lifelong access to purposeful professional development. 6 Those who are lucky enough to become teachers normally are teachers for life.
  72. 72. 7 Almost half of the 16-year olds, when they leave comprehensive school have been engaged in some sort of special education, personalized help, or individual guidance.
  73. 73. 8 In Finland, teachers teach less and students spend less time studying both in and out of school than their peers in other countries.
  74. 74. 9 Finnish schools do not engage in standardized testing, test preparation, or private tutorting.
  75. 75. 10 All of the factors that are behind the Finnish success seem to be the opposite of what is taking place in the United States and much of the rest of the world, where competition, test- based accountability, standardization, and privatization seem to dominate
  76. 76. Global Education Reform Movement AcademicX Finnish Way Holistic
  77. 77. Global Education Reform Movement StandardizationX Finnish Way Personalization
  78. 78. Global Education Reform Movement CompetitionX Finnish Way Teamwork
  79. 79. Global Education Reform Movement ChoiceX Finnish Way Equal Opportunity
  80. 80. Global Education Reform Movement AccountabilityX Finnish Way Trust
  81. 81. Meaning of Finnish Lessons 1. Teachers Policy- Professionalization 2. Accountability Policy-Trust based Responsibility 3. Testing Policy- Purposeful Assessment
  82. 82. The current, and highly effective Finnish system of education is the result of decades of determined and continuous refinement of policies and practices. Finland did not attempt to simply transplant the ideas of education into the Finnish system; rather it modified promising ideas to fit the Finnish context. Neither did the process for improving education Finland jump from one "big idea" to another; rather, it committed to informed, long-term refinement of policies and practices based upon educators' evaluation of the effects of those policies and practices on student learning.
  83. 83. Reforming School is a complex & slow process. To rush this process is to ruin it. The story of Finland’s education transformation makes this clear
  84. 84. How Finnish Lessons can help India’s Education Reform ?
  85. 85. 1 Excellence through Equality of educational opportunity
  86. 86. Equitable funding of Education
  87. 87. School Lunch for all
  88. 88. Health Care
  89. 89. Individualized Support
  90. 90. Compulsory Play for all Children
  91. 91. 2 Smart Time Management
  92. 92. Less Teaching Time
  93. 93. More Time for Collaboration
  94. 94. Less Class room hours
  95. 95. Less Home work
  96. 96. More time to Play
  97. 97. Less Standardized Testing
  98. 98. 3 Professionalism
  99. 99. Teaching is a desired way of life
  100. 100. What is the Change we require Indian Education Sector’s vision for the future is to "Create a community of learners that provides the conditions that allow all young people to discover their talent." Such would require the following “Themes of change.“  Development of Personal road maps for learning  Less classroom-based teaching  Development of interpersonal skills & problem solving  Engagement and Creativity as pointers of success  Importance & promoting Teaching as a Profession for Quality education
  101. 101.  About 50% students must go into vocational education after high school  Vocational education must be as rigorous and respected as academic streams  There must be possibilities of transfer between the 2 streams  There must be focus on holistic development of child and not just academics.  Shift away from rote learning and testing, to problem solving and analytical skills is key  For this, the examination/tests system has to change  Different learning styles must be understood, appreciated & supported.  Mapping of each child has to be done and each child supported as needed  The quality of education across schools has to be made similar, by raising the quality in the public system.  There must be discouragement of private, paid for tuitions and other supports which are essentially unfair to children from different economic strata. Some thoughts on Change
  102. 102. Mail your comments to ramaddster@gmail.com