Education: Can We Learn from Finland?

Film maker and entrepreneur Bob Compton recently spoke to our friend Gerry Dick at Inside INdiana Business about his new film, "The Finland Phenomenon." The film analyzes the differences in our cultures, and how academic achievement is rewarded in the country. It also examines how Finland seems to take a more practical approach to education, where many students don’t embark on "a forced march" to attend college, but become well-educated to fill valuable roles in the country’s workforce.

Compton’s previous film on education, "2 Million Minutes," earned much notoriety — and criticism — for his comparisons of Indiana’s educational system to that of India and China.

Chamber to Host Indiana Premiere of “2 Million Minutes” Sequel

Bob Compton, one of Indiana’s most successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, has made a sizeable splash in national education circles with his production of "2 Million Minutes," a film that compares the lives of high school students in Carmel, Indiana, to those in China and India.

On October 6, the Indiana Chamber will host the Indiana premiere of "2 Million Minutes: The 21st Century Solution," a sequel to the first film that highlights an open enrollment school in the U.S. that is teaching "average" children at an extraordinarily high academic level. This school, located in a largely low-income area, helps demonstrate that American students are capable of competing academically with the best in the world if given the right curriculum, the right teachers and the right inspiration and expectations. Learn more and view a short trailer for the film.

The Indiana premiere will be held on October 6 at 11:30 a.m. in the Indiana Chamber Conference Center. Compton will introduce the film and will lead a brief conversation following its showing. Lunch will also be provided. This is a free event but space is limited and reservations are required.

To learn more, send an e-mail to Amy Elifritz at [email protected] or call (317) 264-6865.

At Least They’re Not Messing with the Days on Task

Education funding is always a contentious issue at the Statehouse, but the battle is rising to a new level this time around (as we have heard over and over and over). Past disagreements largely centered on the level of spending increases. With fewer dollars available, it’s a case of where are they going to go — to students or districts.

The budget is filled with education measures beyond the funding fight. One issue thankfully not on the table, at least for now, is minimizing the 180-day school year. Chamber education expert Derek Redelman reported it this way following the end of the regular session.

In recent months, we have heard from a new president, from a new secretary of education, from a film comparing Carmel students to those in India and China (see here) and from multiple other sources that American students spent far too little time in school. So it was a bit shocking to see at least six different bills filed this year that would have allowed Indiana’s school year to be shortened.

The Chamber fought these bills vigourously and most never even got a hearing. The one bill that did get a hearing was talked about by House Education Chairman Greg Porter (D-Indianapolis), who acknowledged that a reduced school year would be most harmful to the low-income students he represents.

Things all changed when Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett announced mid-session that the Indiana Department of Education would enforce current law and would no longer allow schools to count parent-teacher conferences and professional development days as student instructional time. He also announced much less flexibility in the waiver of inclement weather days. It was a decision backed by 20 years of Indiana law and one the Indiana Chamber applauded loudly, but it was also widely criticized by House Democrats, who vowed to block it through legislation. Though Rep. Porter offered the legislation intended to accomplish that goal, it ultimately failed.