The Parable of Los Angeles | by Jim Wallis of Sojourners

Los Angeles is becoming an epicenter for the parable of the “new America” emerging that I believe is underneath all the politics in this nation right now. – Jim Wallis of Sojourners

By Jim Wallis 02-18-2016

Parables are stories Jesus often told in order to help people learn the right “lessons.”

Clearly Ferguson, Baltimore, and Chicago are parables for us the nation now, and when we visited those places recently on the town meeting tour for America’s Original Sin to gather with local activists and clergy, we found those lessons running very deep.

In Los Angeles, where we just spent several days, I got many hopeful glimpses of our multicultural demographic future. We saw how Los Angeles is becoming an epicenter for the parable of the “new America” emerging that I believe is underneath all the politics in this nation right now.

In the next few decades, a fundamental change will occur in the United States. By the year 2045, the majority of U.S. citizens will be descended from African, Asian, and Latin American ancestors, according to the U.S. Census Bureau projections.

For the first time in its 240-year history, America will no longer be a white majority nation. Rather, we will have become a majority of minorities — with no one race being in the majority.

The United States will be no longer a dominant white nation but a multiracial nation, which will make the assumptions of white privilege increasingly less assumed.

– See more at:


How Finland broke every rule — and created a top school system 

Spend five minutes in Jussi Hietava’s fourth-grade math class in remote, rural Finland, and you may learn all you need to know about education reform – if you want results, try doing the opposite of what American “education reformers” think we should do in classrooms. Instead of control, competition, stress, standardized testing, screen-based schools and […]

As Pasi Sahlberg has pointed out, “If you come to Finland, you’ll see how great American schools could be.”

Finland’s education system is hardly perfect, and its schools and society are entering a period of huge budget and social pressures. Reading levels among children have dropped off. Some advanced learners feel bored in school. Finland has launched an expensive, high-risk national push toward universal digitalization and tabletization of childhood education that has little basis in evidence and flies in the face of a recent major OECD study that found very little academic benefit for school children from most classroom technology.

But as a parent or prospective parent, I have spent time in many of the most prestigious private schools in New York City and toured many of the city’s public school classrooms, in the largest public school system in the world. And I am convinced that the primary school education my child is getting in the Normaalikoulu in Joensuu is on a par with, or far surpasses, that available at any other school I’ve seen.

I have a suggestion for every philanthropist, parent, educator and policymaker in the world who wants to improve children’s education.

Start by coming to Finland. Spend some time sitting in the back of Jussi Hietava’s classroom, or any other Finnish classroom.

If you look closely and open your mind, you may see the School of Tomorrow.

William Doyle is a 2015-2016 Fulbright Scholar and New York Times bestselling author from New York City on the faculty of the University of Eastern Finland, and father of an eight year old who attends a Finnish public school.

Read more of this report here: How Finland broke every rule — and created a top school system – The Hechinger Report

Natl’l. Ed. Policy Center Report:  Investigating Charter Schools, Special Needs Students and English Language Learners 


BOULDER, CO (February 17, 2016) – A recent report from the School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative (SEII) investigates the enrollment and achievement of students with special needs and English language learners (ELLs) in oversubscribed charter schools in Boston. Though it finds some interesting and positive patterns deserving of further study, the effects cannot be generalized to support broad advocacy statements such as, “special education and ELL students enrolled in charters perform better on math, English-language arts, science, and writing MCAS tests.”

As a review of the report explains, the report’s positive findings cannot be generalized to charter schools outside Boston or even to most students from these special populations inside Boston.

Julie F. Mead, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Mark Weber, a doctoral candidate at Rutgers University, reviewed Special Education and English Language Learner Students in Boston Charter Schools for the Think Twice Think Tank Review Project at the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder’s School of Education.

The SEII report considers an important research question about the enrollment and success of special education and ELL students in charter schools, and it claims to “debunk” the common perception that these students are underserved in charters. It concludes that Boston charters and Boston Public Schools enroll similar numbers of both special populations, and that charter attendance has a positive and statistically significant effect for those who enter Boston’s charter school lottery and then enroll after being offered a seat.

The reviewers point out that the special-population enrollment claims are undercut by the assumptions made and the limitations of the study’s methods. Regarding the primary claim, about positive test score effects, the study is on more solid ground; the reviewers conclude that the models used in the report to estimate the effects are indeed appropriate.

But the review also explains the data and analyses are more limited than readers of the report might be lead to believe. “The effects,” the reviewers explain, “can only be generalized to those students who enter the lottery and comply with their assignment to either treatment (charter school) or control (district public schools).” The study, they find, also offers no context to compare the size of reported gains and it does not adequately examine how or why the reported test score gains are realized; for example, it does not account for peer effects or spending differences.

Mead and Weber conclude that ultimately, while this report takes an important step in studying how oversubscribed charters may affect the academic achievement of special needs students, a closer examination is needed in order to accurately inform those making education policy.

Find Mead and Weber’s review at:

Find Special Education and English Language Learner Students in Boston Charter Schools, by Elizabeth Setren, published by the School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative, at:

Source: Investigating Charter Schools, Students with Special Needs and English Language Learners | National Education Policy Center

Michigan Parents for Schools’ first look at Snyder’s FY16-17 school aid budget 

First look: Snyder FY16-17 school aid budget

It’s February, and as most of you know that means it’s Budget time in Lansing. (You were thinking hearts and chocolate?)

Governor Rick Snyder presented his recommended budget last week to a packed room. The focus, not surprisingly, was on the water crisis in Flint and the restructuring of Detroit Public Schools. But the budget determines what kind of education can be offered to every child in the state, and the important bits are often in the details.

At first glance, parent advocates have reason to be modestly pleased, though the reality is not as pretty as the picture painted on the cover. What happens in the end, however, depends on what comes out after the document has been reflected in the legislative funhouse mirrors – which may or may not resemble the original.

A little bit more
The governor’s executive budget recommendation is headlined by a modest increase in per-pupil funding. Districts at the current minimum level of $7,391 – which includes some 60% of all students – would receive $120 more per pupil for their general operating needs. Districts at or above the state maximum (currently $778 higher or $8,169) would get an increase of $60 per pupil.

For most students, then, that means a funding increase of 1.6% – just a tad more than the projected inflation rate of 1.2%. But a goodly number of students will get a smaller relative increase: 0.7% or less, lagging inflation.

Put another way, the small number of districts which were at the bare minimum spending level when Proposal A took effect in 1994 are still doing better than when they started, adjusted for inflation, but they have not recovered the levels they saw in 2010-11.

Districts which started out at the “basic” level of funding ($5,000 in 1994) have lost some ground and are below where they started in 1994, adjusting for inflation, wiping out the gains from the first decade of this century.

Districts at the higher end have done even worse: if they received what was the state maximum in 1994 ($6,500), they have lost ground against inflation nearly every year since then and the draft budget would let them buy about 17% less now than they were able to 22 years ago.

Read more here: First look: Snyder FY16-17 school aid budget | Michigan Parents for Schools