Practice brief

Educating California’s Disadvantaged Children

Lessons from Colombia
Tom Luschei
Claremont Graduate University


Despite California’s great wealth, child poverty places a drag on the state’s educational performance. Disadvantaged children—including English learners, foster children, and the poor—do not receive the educational attention and services that they require to be successful. Although California’s Local Control Funding Formula recognizes this challenge, schools and districts have struggled to identify effective solutions to educate disadvantaged children. In this brief, Tom Luschei describes an approach that has been successful in educating and empowering one of South America’s most marginalized populations—children living in conflict-afflicted rural areas of Colombia. Since 1975, Colombia’s Escuela Nueva (New School) model has raised academic and non-cognitive outcomes of students in tens of thousands of Colombian schools and has been adopted in over a dozen countries, reaching approximately seven million children worldwide. This brief describes how Escuela Nueva works, provides evidence of its success, and discusses how California’s schools and districts might implement core aspects of the Escuela Nueva model.

Suggested citationLuschei, T. (2017, December). Educating California’s disadvantaged children: Lessons from Colombia [Practice brief]. Policy Analysis for California Education.