Where the polls stand - the last look

Here's our last look at the state of the polls before we know the result tomorrow.

After months of campaigning, millions spent on advertising and mail, the campaign has settled in to where it always looked destined to, a narrow lead for the president, creating an even narrower path for Mr Romney to achieve 270 electoral college votes.

The most conservative of the polling analyst, Real Clear Politics, has the race for electoral college votes almost neck-and-neck

One of the states they have in the toss-up column naturally being Ohio. However, their state-by-state look at the polling shows President Obama with a lead averaging 2.9%, one of his largest in some time, right at the moment he would want to be leading.

Meanwhile, 538, the NYT poll analyst has the President winning the electoral college vote 307.2 - 230.8, a margin that has been increasing since the first debate

583 has the probably of President Obama winning Ohio at 86.8%.

If you just want to settle in an watch the results, BuzzFeed has created a "Viewer's Guide To Who Won The Presidential Election"

This (probably)* doesn't have to be all that complicated. Obama has several paths to victory. Romney has fewer. And these are the main ones, organized by the time (EST) that polls close.
*The New York Times counts 512 possible outcomes — but the paths above are the likely ones.

As you can see, Romney has to run the table of swing states in order to prevail.

Of course, all of this only matters if you vote. Don't forget to check our our voters checklist of what you might need, and what your voting rights are in Ohio.

What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland's School Success

Everyone agrees the United States needs to improve its education system dramatically, but how? One of the hottest trends in education reform lately is looking at the stunning success of the West's reigning education superpower, Finland. Trouble is, when it comes to the lessons that Finnish schools have to offer, most of the discussion seems to be missing the point.

The small Nordic country of Finland used to be known -- if it was known for anything at all -- as the home of Nokia, the mobile phone giant. But lately Finland has been attracting attention on global surveys of quality of life -- Newsweek ranked it number one last year -- and Finland's national education system has been receiving particular praise, because in recent years Finnish students have been turning in some of the highest test scores in the world.

Finland's schools owe their newfound fame primarily to one study: the PISA survey, conducted every three years by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The survey compares 15-year-olds in different countries in reading, math, and science. Finland has ranked at or near the top in all three competencies on every survey since 2000, neck and neck with superachievers such as South Korea and Singapore. In the most recent survey in 2009 Finland slipped slightly, with students in Shanghai, China, taking the best scores, but the Finns are still near the very top. Throughout the same period, the PISA performance of the United States has been middling, at best.

Compared with the stereotype of the East Asian model -- long hours of exhaustive cramming and rote memorization -- Finland's success is especially intriguing because Finnish schools assign less homework and engage children in more creative play. All this has led to a continuous stream of foreign delegations making the pilgrimage to Finland to visit schools and talk with the nation's education experts, and constant coverage in the worldwide media marveling at the Finnish miracle.

So there was considerable interest in a recent visit to the U.S. by one of the leading Finnish authorities on education reform, Pasi Sahlberg, director of the Finnish Ministry of Education's Center for International Mobility and author of the new book Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? Earlier this month, Sahlberg stopped by the Dwight School in New York City to speak with educators and students, and his visit received national media attention and generated much discussion.

And yet it wasn't clear that Sahlberg's message was actually getting through. As Sahlberg put it to me later, there are certain things nobody in America really wants to talk about.

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Despite lay offs TFA circling in Cincinnati

Cincinnati public schools are experiencing the full impact of the recently passed budget and it's provisions. The district reduced its general fund budget by $8.6 million to $458.6 million this year due to state funding cuts, and the end of 2012-13, the state will have reduced its funding to CPS by $55 million.

Naturally this is causing serious budget problems for a well performing large urban district, including lay-offs that were announced earlier in the year

Cincinnati’s School Superintendent announced Friday more than 200 staff positions will be cut next year to help the district balance its budget.

Mary Ronan said in a release the reductions include 158 teachers, 33 central office employees and 17 additional school-based workers.

According to the same article, CPS has been closing schools and reducing staff for the past decade. Since 2001-2002, more than 1,100 positions have been eliminated and 17 schools have been closed.

To alleviate some of this pressure, CPS has a permanent levy on the ballot this November. Polling shows this levy to be neck and neck.

But another provision in the state's budget is also rearing its head. Teach for America (TFA).

Teach for America wants to put its teachers in Cincinnati Public Schools, possibly as early next year.

But both parties must agree. So far, the district has remained non-committal.

"We're really just looking to see if districts are interested in partnering," said Ben Lindy, who is on Teach for America's site development team.

Lindy made a pitch to CPS board Wednesday. It was the first such outreach in Ohio since Gov. John Kasich signed a law in April allowing TFA to locate here.

It might raise some eyebrows, that at a time when the district is having to lay off highly qualified and experienced educators and their support professionals, TFA is circling with promises to fill classrooms with their under prepared, inexperienced amateurs. As we wrote a short time ago, it is literally harder to become a casino card dealer in Ohio than it is to be a TFA recruit.

Cincinnati would be better served passing their levy and ensuring that they continue to have classrooms staffed with experienced professionals that have helped guide CPS to its current creditable performance levels.