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West Virginia learns Finland's 'most honorable profession': Teacher

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Former West Virginia Schools Superintendent Steve Paine went to Finland to learn to improve West Virginia schools.
(image by CNN)
When newly minted WV Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Paine told parents, teachers and educators in 2005 that he wanted to use Finland as a model for their education system, he got a lot of blank stares: Finland? What, people asked, does West Virginia have to do with Finland?

The contrast couldn't be more stark: In WV, many children face poverty, illiteracy and broken homes and lack easy access to health care or proper nutrition.

Finland has a largely literate and relatively homogeneous population, little immigration and almost no poverty or social problems. They also offer a vast network of social supports including free meals and health care for school children.

Still, Finland was -- and remains -- at the top of international test rankings for elementary through high schools and after studying and observing Finnish schools for several months in 2004, Paine was...

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