I was fortunate to live and work in Germany for four years. One of the surprises I experienced was that, in Europe, teaching is a prestigious profession, and teachers are considered to be the peers of medical doctors, lawyers, architects, etc.. This was incredibly refreshing, and contrasted greatly with the discouraging lack of respect educators often get in the U.S.. The state superintendent of schools in West Virginia, to his everlasting credit, took it upon himself to study what countries in the world have the most successful school systems and chose to reshape West Virginia's school system with Finland as the model.
"When newly minted West Virginia 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?"
Read more: West Virginia Learns Finland's Most Honorable Profession by Paul Frysh : CNN