This is an example of why you shouldn't get facts from internet memes.
I've found what is "factual" is often grossly distorted and even "quotes" are often bogus or manipulated by someone to serve their own ideological agenda. This is true when the message is conservative, liberal or even libertarian. Also, it is almost impossible to get all the relevant facts into a meme thus there is gross biasing out of necessity. And none of them list sources leaving you to take it on faith, or do your own research, and most people never do the latter. Look at this one FB meme as an example.
What is the source?
No source is listed but an "anonymous" teacher in Norway, according to the picture, the source of which is not entirely clear either. We have double anonymity. Is the unnamed teacher the one in the picture? Probably not. Her name is Niina Utso and she is from Estonia, though she now teaches in Finland. Her images is the first that comes up if you do a google search on "Finland teacher." I doubt she was the source, her image was used by the originator of the meme merely to look good.
Let's grant that Finland has the "best" school system in the world. I don't know if it does, and haven't considered how to judge that claim.
What about the rest?
First, consider what is left out.Finland has a homogeneous and small population. The total student population of the country is 20% smaller than what we find in the Los Angeles School District alone. One article I read said Finland's schools tend to be so small most teachers know ALL the students in the school. Small schools tend to be better than large ones. Having only 500,000 students, nationwide, to worry about helps a lot with results.
I suspect the main point is the meme's creator wants teachers in the US to be paid like physicians. It is part of the constant theme that US teachers are woefully underpaid. It also implies Finnish teachers are paid far better than US teachers. By the way, Finnish teachers tend to be far better educated than US teachers and many US teachers would not be admitted as teachers there. All Finnish teachers have to finish a rigorous master's program, US teachers have no such requirement. But, assume equal quality of teachers so we are only comparing actual salary. Worldsalaries . org has convenient salary comparisons based on official data. They also look at how salaries compare when purchasing power is taken into account. Using purchasing power parity is important.
I am comparing the cost of living in Finland vs the US thanks to the site Numbeo, which keeps this information. Consumer prices in Finland are 28% higher than in the US. Somethings are worse. A meal at McDonald's is over $9 per person, a domestic beer is well over $6, chicken is almost double in price.
However, Worldsalaries takes all that into account with the PPP comparison using constant 2005 US dollars. They found the average teacher in the US in those terms was making $4055 per month. (All comparisons are with 2005 dollars.) In Finland, the teacher earned $1,936 per month, on average, taking PPP into account. US teachers are paid about twice as well as their Finnish counterparts.
So, what about being paid as much as doctors?
That seems like BS, if Worldsalaries data (from Statistics Finland) is correct. In fact, Finnish physicians earns about twice as much as Finnish teachers. Actually, American physicians earns about twice as much as American teachers as well, again according to Worldsalaries when it comes to purchasing power parity in 2005 constant dollars.
I think that was the most important section of the meme, it is trying to emphasize the pay issue. As for the other two, students in Finland get more play time than in the US and also spend more time on things like arts and crafts in school. School isn't quite the prison it is in the US. They are also heavy with courses teaching skills like carpentry, metalwork, cooking, etc. They also do not use the stupid standardized testing the US does.
So, there is a fail on the implied issue of paying US teachers more, they already earn more than their Finnish counterparts while being less qualified than Finnish teachers. In other words, U.S. teachers would be overpaid in comparison. Accurate in terms of given kids more free time and play time and accurate in terms of testing. I just get the impression the salary was the main issue they were pushing.
Should we possibly look into the number of administrators we have instead?
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