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David Kirp
David L. Kirp, author of Kids First: Five Big Ideas for Transforming Children's Lives and America's Future (Public Affairs, 2011) is a professor and former acting dean at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. In 2008 he served on President Obama’s Transition Team. Previously, he taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and was the founding director of the Harvard Center on Law and Education. A former associate editor of the Sacramento Bee and a syndicated columnist, he now writes for publications including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The American Prospect and The Nation and consults with leading national and state organizations. His most recent books are The Sandbox Investment: The Preschool Movement and Kids-First Politics and Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education.

Entries by David Kirp

Will Gay Marriage Rescue a Shaky Institution?

(3) Comments | Posted September 4, 2014 | 7:16 PM

I recently returned from a glorious gay wedding -- the fifth that I've been invited to this summer, more than at any time since my twenties. What makes these occasions so special is that the couples tying the knot have been together for years, sometimes decades. Only now, though, can...

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Queen Elizabeth, Your Old Colony Needs Help

(22) Comments | Posted October 11, 2013 | 9:55 PM

Dear Queen Liz (if I may be so presumptuous),

I write with a simple purpose -- to plead with you to reverse more than two centuries of history and bring your former colonies back into the fold.

This request doubtlessly comes as something of a shocker, but my reasoning...

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Does Obama's Early Education Proposal Have a Chance?

(31) Comments | Posted July 11, 2013 | 5:08 PM

Children's advocates high-fived when President Obama called for "high quality preschool" for "every child in America" in his State of the Union Address. The details of the plan are considerably more complicated -- for one thing, federal money would be used mainly for poor and working-class kids, though states would...

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Kick-Start for Head Start

(2) Comments | Posted November 10, 2011 | 6:12 PM

Here's what preschool advocates will always tell you -- early education is the most effective way to close the achievement gap, changing the arc of children's lives. The advocates are right: I wrote a book, The Sandbox Investment, that demonstrates that these small miracles do happen.

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The Public Equivalent of Love

(0) Comments | Posted October 18, 2011 | 5:58 PM

On October 19th, as the Senate HELP Committee dives into mark-up of the long awaited overhaul of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, one group of children's advocates will try to frame education reform through the tight focus of educational outcomes and opportunity for students in foster care.


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Why Class Size Matters

(2) Comments | Posted June 29, 2011 | 3:22 PM

Does class size matter? School districts think so: that's why they're keen on small classes. Parents think so as well. That's why they pay through the nose to send their youngsters to private schools that boast small classes.

The researchers are split. The gold-standard study -- the

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The Kids Win One in Washington

(4) Comments | Posted April 23, 2011 | 12:13 PM

When it comes to kids' issues, the rule of thumb in Washington is usually "children last." Not this time: While the recent budget deal trimmed many federal programs, there's actually more money going to two signature children's initiatives, Head Start and child care.

Head Start, the last surviving veteran...

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Paul Ryan Hates Kids

(4) Comments | Posted April 11, 2011 | 5:43 PM

Representative Paul Ryan, the architect of the GOP's long-term budget proposal, would hotly dispute the claim that he hates kids. He'd tell you that he's a good family man, a good father to his three children and a good churchgoer, and there's no reason to question those bona fides. Like...

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Is Michelle Rhee a 16th Century Throwback?

(18) Comments | Posted March 31, 2011 | 2:35 PM

With the dread high-stakes No Child Left Behind reading and math tests looming, public schools across the country are in lock-down mode. School administrators fear being consigned to the hellish status of a school "in need of improvement" under the No Child Left Behind Act. That's why so many schools...

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Kids Last?

(2) Comments | Posted March 2, 2011 | 10:46 AM

In the political arena, the old lifesaving motto is reversed: it's "children last." Children don't matter because children don't vote, the adage goes. That's why government spends just $1 per child for every $9 it spends on seniors.

Don't get me wrong -- this isn't a war between the...

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