Here is a listing of resources of various kinds that may be useful learning about education and community change. If you know of a good resource that you would like to see added to this list, please email Mike Solberg (jmichaelsolberg at gmail dot com). Thanks!

(Disclaimer: These resources are curated by Mike Solberg, but links are for education/exploration, and listing here does not necessarily mean Mike or Union Church supports everything contained in these resources.)


About racial discrimination in Chicago through housing segregation – “redlining.” About 8 minutes.

About how past housing discrimination continues to affect Chicago’s schools. About 8 minutes.

10 reasons Finland’s schools are so great. About 13 minutes. The U.S. is very different than Finland, with much more diversity and much more poverty, but there may be something the U.S. can learn from their excellent education system.

If you have Netflix, there is a good video showing how discriminatory practices of the past continue to have effects today. In Netflix, search “Explained,” and find the episode entitled “The Racial Wealth Gap,” which first aired on May 23, 2018.


Summary, and link to a full study, of why investment in early childhood education is such a good deal. By Nobel Prize winning economist James Heckman.

Additional work by Heckman that shows generational change coming from early childhood education, as the children of those in the study above have better life outcomes.

About Creating Real Change:

What Really Works?, by Mike Gecan of the Industrial Areas Foundation (parent organization of DuPage United). That talk by Gecan is particularly interesting given this piece from the Wall Street Journal – The War on Poverty Remains a Stalemate – which reports that hundreds of billions of federal money has not improved K-12 education.

Good, short “opinion” piece by David Brooks about how to create real transformation (applies to poverty, but useful for thinking about our education focus).


What the U.S. can learn from Canada about early childhood care and education.

The keys to Finland’s excellent education system.  Also, here’s a more personal comment on Finland’s schools.  (See comment about the Finnish example in video list, above.)

The epidemic of stress among teens in the U.S.

The movement to expand free education before and after K-12.

Here’s some important reporting from NPR, all related to school funding. Follow the money – that’s always the advice if you want to figure out what’s really going on.

Government or Non-profit Reports:

2018 Community Needs Assessment for Suburban Cook County.  All of it is interesting, but see page 58 and following for information directly about education.

2018 Community Needs Assessment for DuPage County.

Data on how babies and toddlers and doing in Illinois (and every other state).

Early Childhood Asset Map for DuPage County.

Summary of local schools “Report Card.”


Amanda Lewis and John Diamond, Despite the Best Intentions: How Racial Inequality Thrives in Good Schools, focused on high schools, but applicable to all levels of education in America

Diane Ravitch, The Death and Life of the Great American School System – a look at the heavy influence of corporate profit on schooling in America

Robert Putnam, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis – a look at the increasing difficulty of social mobility in America, with strong links to educational inequities

Robert Lupton, Charity Detox: What Charity Would Look Like If We Cared About Results – not much about education directly, but about a transformative approach to real change

Ajay Chaudry, Taryn Morrissey, Christina Weiland, Hirokazu Yoshikawa (authors), Cradle to Kindergarten: A New Plan to Combat Inequality – a little wonky, but highly informative and interesting

Paul Tough, How Children Succeed, argues that it’s not “intelligence” that matters most, but character traits/skills like perseverance, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-control.

Amanda Ripley, The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got that Way, a great, accessible read for how to think broadly about education (Ripley is a Time magazine journalist).


Website of James Heckman, Nobel Prize winning economist, about the economics of early childhood education – includes a great additional resource page

Bright and Early DuPage, an initiative of the DuPage Foundation, works to ensure that all DuPage kids birth to 5 receive the comprehensive support critical in preparing them for success in kindergarten and beyond.

The Ounce, an influential national group working for early childhood education. Church member Joyce Skoog (may she rest in peace) was on the Board of this organization. Good additional resource page.

The Campaign for Grade Level Reading, working to see that all children can read at grade level by third grade, a key sign of educational success.

First Five Year Fund, advocating for a smarter, stronger, healthier, and more productive America through high-quality early childhood education. Lots of data/research, and evidence of bi-partisan support.

Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child has a resource page with links to a ton of material, some popular, some more technical, all valuable.