David L. Kirp

Senior Fellow in Residence

David L. Kirp is the Professor of the Graduate School, University of California at Berkeley. He brings his considerable expertise to LPI’s Early Childhood Learning team and an Institute project on community schools. He is co-author of the June 2016 report, The Road to High-Quality Early Learning: Lessons from the States.

Kirp has written 17 books—including Kids First: Five Big Ideas for Transforming Children’s Lives and America’s Future and Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System and a Strategy for American Education, the latter of which was named outstanding book of 2013 by the American Educational Research Association. He also drafted a policy framework for early education as a member of President Barack Obama’s transition team. Currently, he is a contributing writer to the New York Times.

Kirp graduated from Amherst College—and is a former trustee of his alma mater—and Harvard Law School. He was the founding director of the Harvard Center for Law and Education, and he also serves as a member of the board of Friends of the Children and on the international advisory committee of Escuela Nueva, a Colombia-based nonprofit that in the past quarter-century has educated millions of children in the developing world.

For more about David L. Kirp's work, see list below.

David L. Kirp
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  • Does Pre-K Make Any Difference?

    Op-Ed: Does Pre-K Make Any Difference?

    Oct 03 2015
    Does preschool work? Although early education has been widely praised as the magic bullet that can transport poor kids into the education mainstream, a major new study raises serious doubts. A closer analysis, however, underscores the importance of quality if preschool is to have a positive long-term impact on children’s lives.
  • Op-Ed: What Do the Poor Need? Try Asking Them

    Op-Ed: What Do the Poor Need? Try Asking Them

    Aug 08 2015
    For decades, policy makers have treated those living in poverty as helpless and inept. The worse off the neighborhood, the less influence its residents have over their future. Rather than ask what would strengthen their communities, social services conduct “needs assessments” and agencies deliver solutions that seldom work. As the successes of Houston's Neighborhood Centers show, people who live in these communities must determine their own fate.
  • Another Chance for Teens

    Op-Ed: Another Chance for Teens

    May 02 2015
    The conventional wisdom among social scientists is that there is little payoff in investing in troubled teenagers. As the University of Chicago economist James J. Heckman argued in 2011, “we over-invest in attempting to remediate the problems of disadvantaged adolescents and under-invest in the early years of disadvantaged children,” when the potential gains are supposedly the largest. But this consensus is wrong, as we now know from recent scholarship.
  • Make School a Democracy

    Op-Ed: Make School a Democracy

    Feb 28 2015
    The Escuela Nueva (New School) model, introduced in Colombia 40 years ago, is almost unknown in the U.S., despite international accolades for its learning-by-doing approach. Teachers, parents, and students also have a say in how the school is run. While most of the students are poor and live in rural communities, they do as well on reading and math tests as their middle-class urban counterparts. A move is afoot to bring the model here.
  • Closing the Math Gap for Boys

    Op-Ed: Closing the Math Gap for Boys

    Jan 31 2015
    On the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress, the average reading and math scores of 8th-grade black boys were barely higher than those of 4th-grade white girls, and Latino boys did only marginally better.  The male adolescents who participated in a program called Match, where teenage students work two-on-one with a math tutor, ended up as much as two years ahead of a control group. Here is why.