The Costanza Rule

What are the best educational systems doing? A 2011 study by a consortium of educators in Europe, the U.S., and Asia identified the top performers,the top five nations in Europe whose culture is closest to our own.

1. Finland
2. Germany
3. Austria
4. Sweden
5. Switzerland

The five are joined by S.Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore,and Canada in the top 10. The U.S. is 19.

Common elements of the top rated:

  1. Equitable funding for all schools set by national standards
  2. National, stable curriculum standards mixing subject mastery and learning skills with creative/independent thinking in flexible school day structures.
  3. Individualized instruction/learning using the most up to date computer tutoring, record keeping,communication between teacher/student/home,with teachers as coaches,educational plan creators, and evaluators/assessors.
  4. No advancement without mastery of skills demonstrated by multiple assessment tools using complex assessment matrices.
  5. Streamlined educational options, direct links to work, professional training,skilled labor and university prep.
  6. Virtually no extra-curricular activities, clubs/teams are neighborhood based organizations.
  7. Top notch teachers are drawn from the nations best students. Very well trained, highly respected by students,parents, administrations with strong job satisfaction and competitively paid.
  8. Small neighborhood based schools with small physical plants.
  9. Small administrations.
  10. Emphasis on professional control of educational system with parental input.

The funny thing is Finland bases its system on ours. The sad thing is people like Phil Berger, Paul Stam, and Jerry Tillman, when given a blueprint for success invoke the Costanza Rule and do the opposite.


You do not want to invite a

You do not want to invite a federal controlling authority into your life when it involves your children. There is a reason why things are set up the way they in the USA. Also you had better really examine some the educational systems of those countries, I think you'll find some things you definitely will not like. They are not what they appear to be.


Judging from what's happening in the GA, I would gladly invite the feds to take over for those Republican assholes. I've had five kids go through the NC public school system, one graduated from Western Carolina, one will grad from from UNC next month, one is at UNCG, one at Penn St., and one is in 2nd grade. NC has taken a huge leap backwards in public education and the actions of the legislature is indefensible. The "reasons" you refer to have led to wild discrepancies in the quality of education from state to state and within the states themselves. Leave your tea party paranoia at the door, I do not fear my own government, just ignorant right wing idiots.

David Esmay

I've worked in higher ed in

I've worked in higher ed in the state for almost twenty years.

The thing I've noticed - and it's backed up by other people in higher ed I talk with around the state - is that US kids are increasingly going into college as Freshmen lacking skills in problem solving, writing, evaluating sources, and the ability to work independently.

If you haven't noticed, there's been a big trend in universities across the country over the past decade for remedial courses for basic subjects like writing, math and basic sciences to prep students before they take the Freshman level 101 courses.

Today's students are really comfortable with multiple choice tests and assignments that are smaller and very clearly designed - the kind of thing that you would expect of a sophomore or junior in high school twenty years ago.


You jump to a lot of conclusions as to what I am saying. All I can say is you cannot see unless you are willing to look. I can't help you with that.

Good luck. Just make sure your solutions and your fixes don't affect me.

Just make sure your solutions

Just make sure your solutions and your fixes don't affect me.

I wrote a check for $10,000 today for quarterly NC income taxes. The way I figure, a decent chunk of that amount is going into the pockets of private companies riding the McCrory gravy train ... but I wrote the check anyway. I view paying taxes as a civic responsibility.

Basic rights and freedoms guaranteed by the US Constitution are not open to debate or revision by state legislators ... because if they are open to debate, then laws of the state are open to debate by local governments and individual citizens.

Every solution and fix affects someone in a negative way. Unfortunately, most of those negative effects are on poor people and middle class families.


My conclusion is that education policy should set by educators, not conservative politicians who want to turn public dollars into private profit at the expense of the children and tax payers of NC. The fact that the state board of education has been loaded with people who are enemies of public education does not bode well for NC.

David Esmay


Almost every politician has a fancy new plan for how to "fix" education, and most of them don't know their asses from holes in the ground.

If I were a teacher in North Carolina, I'd be organizing a massive strike that would gain international attention.

And if YOU are a teacher in North Carolina, please let us know what we can do to help you. Waiting around a few generations until the scourge of redistricting works its way through our collective bowels isn't going to cut it.