How five U.S. innovations helped improve schools in Finland even as American’s ignore the same reforms

finland schools

Finland has a staggering record of education success.

Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish educator and scholar, is one of the world’s leading experts on school reform and educational practices. He is the author of the best-selling “Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn About Educational Change in Finland?”and a former director general of Finland’s Center for International Mobility and Cooperation. Sahlberg is now a visiting professor of practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He has written a number of important posts for this blog, including “What if Finland’s great teachers taught in U.S. schools,” and “What the U.S. can’t learn from Finland about ed reform.”

 

 

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Mass incarceration may be the greatest social crisis in modern American history

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More than 2.4 million people are behind bars in the United States today.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission voted unanimously last week to allow nearly 50,000 nonviolent federal drug offenders to seek lower sentences. The decision of the commission retroactively applied an earlier change in sentencing guidelines to now cover roughly half of those serving federal drug sentences. Both the Department of Justice and prison-reform advocates have endorsed the change. It’s a significant step forward in reversing decades of mass incarceration, though in a global context, still modest.

 

 

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Waiting for patent reform is costing the U.S. billions of dollars

patent-reform

The U.S. economy has lost $1.1 billion  due to inaction on the issue during the Senate’s two week recess.

After almost three weeks of heated debate the Senate Judiciary Committee left for April Recess on the doorstep of an historic deal to curb the scurrilous practices of patent trolls.

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Study: Poor Healthcare in U.S. Shortens American Lives

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Americans spend twice as much on healthcare as residents of other developed countries but get lower quality and less efficiency.

Americans die sooner than citizens of a dozen other developed nations and the usual suspects — obesity, traffic accidents and a high murder rate — are not to blame, researchers reported on Thursday.

 

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FDA May Revoke Approval of Avastin for Breast Cancer Marking the Start of ‘Death Panel’ Drug Rationing

avastin

US regulators will delay consideration of the colon-cancer drug Avastin as a treatment for breast. cancer

America’s health watchdog is considering revoking its approval of the drug Avastin for use on women with advanced breast cancer, leading to accusations that it will mark the start of ‘death panel’ drug rationing.  A decision to rescind endorsement of the drug would reignite the highly charged debate over US health care reform and how much the state should spend on new and expensive treatments.

Reforming the Filibuster to Fight Climate Change

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Should the Senate still be allowed to filabuster?

They may seem like two disparate topics: climate change and an archaic Senate procedural rule. But they have more in common than you might think. Thanks to the Senate filibuster rule, essentially any piece of legislation needs 60 votes, a super-majority, if it hopes to pass. This is one of the reasons that the climate bill was killed in the Senate — it could only muster a normal majority, like 55 votes. In a true democracy, that should be enough to fly. But in our political culture, it’s still miles away, and reason enough to sound a death knell for the whole enterprise. So the fact remains — if we want to fight climate change with good policy, we’re probably going to have to reform the filibuster…

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28% of Americans are Tea Party Supporters

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Both political parties are concerned with the strength of this movement

A hefty 28 percent of all Americans identify themselves as supporters of the grass-roots Tea Party movement, according to a new Gallup poll released Monday.
The poll results suggest that along several demographic planes –including age, employment status and race– Tea Party supporters resemble the population at large. 79 percent of Tea Partiers, for example, are “non-Hispanic white”, as compared with 75 percent of the entire country.
The poll confirms, however, that Tea Party supporters overwhelmingly skew Republican and conservative. 49 percent of all self-identified Tea Party supporters classified themselves as Republican; a total of 92 percent were either Republican or Independent, with a mere 8 percent identifying themselves as Democrats.
The Gallup results diverge from those released last week by the Winston Group, a polling and strategy firm with conservative leanings. The Winston study indicates that only 17 percent of the population identifies itself with the Tea Party, suggesting a smaller base of support for the movement.
The Gallup results were based on telephone interviews with 1033 adults, age 18 and above, conducted from March 26-28. The poll results have a margin of error of four percentage points.

A hefty 28 percent of all Americans identify themselves as supporters of the grass-roots Tea Party movement, according to a new Gallup poll released Monday.

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States Cut Waste by Streamlining and Reorganizing Amid Budget Crisis

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 States facing tough times during budget crisis are streamlining and reorganizing operation

States facing tough times are eliminating commissions, merging departments and centralizing operations to stave off budget cuts and tax hikes.  The moves represent the most sweeping attempts in at least a generation to cut waste in the day-to-day operations of state government, according to government experts.

 

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Bringing the US Patent & Trademark Office to Colorado

Bringing the US Patent & Trademark Office to Colorado

Understanding the new realities of economic development

Thomas Frey:  The USPTO is hiring. In fact they are doing a lot of hiring, over 1,200 new examiners every year, and they still can’t keep up with the deluge of new patent filings. But while the number of patent filings has grown from 90,544 in 1967 to 484,955 in 2007, a 535% workload increase in 40 years plus an equally growing backlog of patent applications waiting for examiner attention, and no more room to expand in their current offices, the agency is now looking at a different approach to solving their growing pains.

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Patent Reform Bill Won’t Clean Up Patent Mess

Patent Reform Bill Won’t Clean Up Patent Mess

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Ars Technica analyzes the Patent Reform Act that has passed the House and is being debated in the Senate. Unfortunately for those longing for real, meaningful patent reform, the bill comes up short in some significant ways. Despite the heated rhetoric on both sides, it is unclear if the legislation will do much to fix the most serious flaws in the patent system.

A series of appeals court rulings in the 1990s greatly expanded patentable subject matter, making patents on software, business methods, and other abstract concepts unambiguously legal for the first time.

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