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Another day, another stirring rendition of the Finnish national anthem, another taste of utter defeat for the Americans. Where did the United States go wrong?

Education Olympics Today tries to answer that question in an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW. Today, the United States Education Olympics Committee's very own Deep Throat speaks out.

Not content to have already won four Education Olympics medals, Taiwan (Chinese Taipei according to the Chinese government) is calling for an overhaul of its secondary education system! The Taipei Times reports that Premier Liu Chao-shiuan wants to see a plan in the next four weeks on how to improve exit exam scores of graduating students.

No, I'm not kidding.

The insatiable Sol Stern is back with another broadside on the Bloomberg/Klein administration. This time he takes the Gotham group to task for poor decisions and faulty leadership on reading.

New York City's 2002 shift to mayoral control of the schools created a unique opportunity.... Introducing his education-reform plan... Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that schools in the past had enjoyed too much autonomy, with "a baffling profusion of approaches to teaching the three Rs throughout the city." Now, there would be "one, unified, focused, streamlined chain of command [and] the Chancellor's office will dictate the curriculum and pedagogical methods." The mayor promised that reading instruction in the early grades would "employ strategies proven to work," including "a daily focus on phonics."

But in a tragically mistaken policy decision, Klein went in the opposite direction on reading, franchising out most instructional decisions to a group of progressive educators who regarded it as a crime to teach children how to read through scripted phonics programs. Under the influence of his deputy chancellor for teaching and learning, Diana Lam, Klein chose an approach called Balanced Literacy for the system's core reading program starting in September 2003. The city's version of

Liam Julian

What a refreshing Gadfly is on offer this lovely August week. We begin with an essay from Checker and Marci, who write about David Whitman's forthcoming book (to be released tomorrow, in fact), Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner-City Schools and the New Paternalism. (Psst.... Did he say paternalism? Indeed he did.) Then we progress to a short bit by me that attends to several findings from the new Education Next-Harvard survey??of adults' attitudes about education. And then we really get into it, with five recommended readings that merrily skip among characters??such as??Al Sharpton and Gloria Estefan.

And what about that podcast? Stafford makes her sparkling debut this week. And steady cast members Mike, Rick, and Amber turn in yet another brilliant and incisive performance....

The education blogosphere is up in arms about America's poor performance at the Education Olympics. Matthew Tabor can't believe "we're losing to a bunch of friggin' Finns." The Core Knowledge Blog calls it "a national embarrassment." Meanwhile, BoardBuzz reminds us that international comparisons are "more than a horse race" (and skoolboy gives us another close look at said horse race).

Michael Phelps might have taken a day off, but we're here 24-7. (Well, except for weekends, to be honest.)...

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Oh world, beware ye Finland's wrath!

For fearless are their bosoms when

A PISA test stands in their path

In reading, science, or in math.

Though sharpened are their Number Twos,

Still sharper are their well-trained minds;

Their foes they flummox and confuse

As Ed Olympics gold accrues!

More at

Education Week offers a pair of articles about the presidential campaigns' advisors this week. First, Alyson Klein ponders whether said advisors "send signals on the policy directions their candidates would pursue if elected to the White House." (I say yes; Eduwonk Andy says no.)

Then David Hoff takes a look at the role of Teach For American alumni on Senator Obama's campaign, including Michael Johnston, star of a recent reporter roundtable at Fordham.

Both are worth checking out.