Cover: The Sandbox Investment: The Preschool Movement and Kids-First Politics, from Harvard University PressCover: The Sandbox Investment in PAPERBACK

The Sandbox Investment

The Preschool Movement and Kids-First Politics

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Print on Demand

$39.00 • £33.95 • €35.95

ISBN 9780674032354

Publication Date: 05/31/2009

Academic Trade

352 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches


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The first comprehensive portrait of this universal pre-kindergarten (pre-k for short) movement. For those interested in children’s and education issues, it’s a valuable primer on this significant but relatively new movement.—Sara Mead, The American Prospect

A productive read for parents, teachers and policymakers alike… [Kirp] leaves his reader with no doubt that our country would be better off if every child had the opportunity to attend a good-quality preschool and walks the reader through the benefits with concrete examples to explain what universal, quality preschool involves. He also makes a clear distinction between quality education and the education our government is currently providing.—Amy Alamar, The San Francisco Chronicle

This behind-the-scenes account of shrewd political campaigning introduces readers to key local and national figures in school systems, foundations, universities and legislatures who are trying to develop and run preschools. It also provides a clear and comprehensive account of academic developmental psychology and developmental neuroscience research on the plasticity of the growing brain and the long-term impact of early experience. All the elements that have propelled the preschool movement, such as brain science, molecular genetics, economics, evaluation and issue-framing, are dissected.—Carol Patton, District Administration

Kirp has written a remarkably well-researched and comprehensive book on where we stand today on pre-K education. The variety of approaches different states have taken to extend education downward is impressive, and it is hard to see how or whether any ‘one best system’ will emerge. Here is an issue that clearly deserves more research and fuller exploration.—Nathan Glazer, Education Next

David L. Kirp presents a cautionary tale of the results to be faced if American children are not provided meaningful, accessible and mandatory prekindergarten programs… The Sandbox Investment chronicles America’s attempts to provide meaningful pre-K education to all. It is a clarion call so that we not underestimate the ramifications of a lack of early learning and its effect upon American life in the 21st century. An excellent and necessary read for both the student of education and soon-to-be parents.—Amy Roberson, The Roanoke Times

The Sandbox Investment comprehensively assesses the policy and politics of the preschool movement in the U.S. Kirp uses a wide range of data sources, including evidence from preschools in Chicago, discussions of preschool experiences in several U.S. states and in Great Britain, and an extensive overview of scientific and social scientific research on the subject. This large body of research, which comes from geneticists, neuroscientists, and economists, reveals that paying for universal preschool up front can reduce the substantial costs associated with crime, poor health, and unemployment later in life… The subject matter could not be timelier.—N. Kraus, Choice

Political discussion of preschool is often dominated by ideology. The Sandbox Investment gives us a thoughtful and exceptionally intelligent account of the psychology, economics and sociology of preschool—written in a very lively, readable and enjoyable way. It should be required reading for anyone who is interested in the welfare of young children—which should mean everyone.—Alison Gopnik, author of The Scientist in the Crib

One of the most pressing concerns about growing income and wealth inequality is the toll it takes on the ideal of equal opportunity for children. David Kirp’s spirited book will persuade you that we may actually be able to do something about this problem.—Robert H. Frank, author of Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class

David Kirp gets the importance of preschool and knows how to tell the story of the smart politics of the heart. The Sandbox Investment offers us the roadmap for making America a much better place to be a child.—James B. Hunt, Jr., former Governor of North Carolina

The Sandbox Investment takes us on a compelling grand tour of the most important frontier in public education—the first five years of life. More than that, [Kirp] unveils fresh horizons for policy-making right here on our own planet, right now, from the Great Plains to Great Britain. The verdict is clear: children are born learning. We ignore this fact at great peril to our future.—Daniel Pedersen, President, Buffett Early Childhood Fund

With wit and style, David Kirp offers a forceful and engaging persuasive analysis of the scientific and economic case for universal high-quality preschool.—Diane Ravitch, author of Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms

What’s the best investment we can make in the next generation? David Kirp gives us the answer in this clear and passionate book: early childhood education. The evidence is overwhelming. The need is beyond doubt. Read this and send copies to everyone you know who’s concerned about the future.—Robert B. Reich, author of Supercapitalism

The Sandbox Investment masterfully weaves together economic, political, social, and personal histories to reveal how the preschool movement has had such success. It’s an invaluable primer for anyone concerned about social reform.—Deborah Stipek, Dean, School of Education, Stanford University

Awards & Accolades

  • 2007 PSP Award for Excellence, Education category, Association of American Publishers
  • A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year

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