A central problem identified by Herman is the fact that teachers in the United States are overburdened in terms of the number of hours they must spend in the classroom:
One thing nobody ever talks about is that teachers in the U.S. have a larger workload than teachers in almost any other country. According to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, the average secondary school teacher in the U.S. puts in 1,051 instructional hours per year. Instructional hours are the hours spent actually in front of kids—in other words, about half of the job, the other half being time spent planning, grading and collaborating with other teachers. In Finland, the average teacher teaches 553 instructional hours per year. In Korea, 609 hours. In England, 695. In Japan, 510.Finland in particular is often held up as a model of a successful primary education system; the fact that teachers in the U.S. put in almost twice (190%) the numbers of instructional hours as in Finland is surely significant.