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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)
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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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