Whoa. You just made my day; it means that my choice for postgraduate studies at Helsinki *is* the best option after all. A country that respects teachers is a good thing.
The NCLB crap in the US is similar to the constant dumbing-down standards in Mexico, where the equivalent to kindergarten is somewhere around *three* years old (3 years kindergarten) though it is really only enforced from age 5 / last "kindergarten" year. Not to mention that usually kinder's a joke compared to US standards (well, 1986 standards anyway).
Public schoolbook reading stuff is usually boring, and God help you if some wacky teacher tries to make 6 y/o kids read "weird" stuff like "the Classics", in language the kid doesn't even understand. I think my joy for reading came more from Dr. Seuss books, Berenstein Bears, Norton Juster's "The Phantom Tollbooth" than "classics".
And whatever happened to the Speak & Spell / Speak & Math toys? Kids will learn, even on their own, as long as they think its fun.