When discussing the quality of a country’s education system, much of the focus is placed on the system’s structure, standardized rules and available disciplines. But a country’s culture and demographics are also important factors in determining the system’s quality.
Finland has one of the best education systems in the world and undoubtedly runs by different rules that set their schools apart from American ones. However, beyond the structural differences, Finland is also a culturally homogenous country, does not have families below the poverty line, and is resourceful enough to provide every student with equal opportunity for education.
In contrast, America is home to people from many countries who preserve and mix their cultures and customs with American ones, changing the standards and norms. This way, it becomes more challenging to engage children of different backgrounds in equal school settings because the playing field cannot be leveled well enough across all different students, as Finland succeeds in doing.
In fact, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has recently conducted a comprehensive research on American schools, focusing on education inequality due to racial differences. The results were surprising: black students are suspended and expelled out of schools three times more than white ones, and they are also four times more likely to attend schools where many teachers do not meet state teaching requirements. 70 percent of white students attend schools that offer a full range of challenging classes like calculus and chemistry, compared to only a bit more than half of black students who have access to them.
Meanwhile, the situation in Finland is the opposite. Finnish people make up more than 90 percent of the population, naturally decreasing the chances of racial differences and cultural disagreements. Also, Finnish families tend to be supportive of and involved with their children’s education.
To find a way to improve America’s declining education system, then, we must understand that the country needs to pay more attention to the unequal opportunities offered to whites and minorities. America will not find the same solution to its problem as Finland did, since they are such different countries. Instead, we must find a way to equalize the quality of education offered to everyone, regardless of racial and cultural backgrounds.