Publication Date: August 19, 2016
Challenging policymakers, educators, reformers, and citizens to replace piecemeal reforms with fundamental redesign, First Things First! calls for a different way of organizing the American primary school. Ruby Takanishi outlines a new framework for integrating early education with primary education (pre-K–5), including both short- and long-term strategies, that starts with 3- and 4-year-olds. Featuring portraits of primary schools that have successfully integrated pre-K, the book includes resources on dual-language learners, dual-generation family engagement, effective philanthropy, rethinking advocacy, and more. The book centers on four basic questions:
First Things First! reframes the basic structure of traditional primary education, challenging us to get the early years of a 21st-century public education system off to a new and stronger start.
Ruby Takanishi is senior research fellow in the Early & Elementary Education Policy Division at New America in Washington, D.C. She has been honored by the American Education Research Association with the 2014 Distinguished Public Service Award.
"Takanishi demands that we not only learn from these initiatives, but that we push to reframe access to pre-K as a fundamental civil and human right. There are fewer more worthy targets of a social justice movement."
— TC Record
"The vision of a new primary school model in this book should be studied by all workers in the fields of education, human development, and social policy. The scholarship in this book is impeccable and the arguments advanced by this leading scholar are most convincing. Further, the book is beautifully written."
—Edward Zigler, Sterling Professor of Psychology Emeritus, Yale University
"Takanishi makes the compelling case that enabling all American children to achieve their potential requires both expansion of high-quality preschool and fundamental changes in how our public elementary schools serve young students. She highlights the crucial need for an intensified focus and common vision for quality instruction as the essential, but currently lacking, common thread in both efforts."
—Sara Mead, Bellwether Education Partners
"This book is a great contribution to education and child development. For too long, education has emphasized K–12 while child development has focused on early learning. Neither is close to the full story of promoting the school success and well-being of young people. In this thoroughly convincing overview, Dr. Takanishi has laid out a vision and approach to schooling that is comprehensive, forward-looking, and versed in strong evidence. This is must-reading for educators, leaders, policymakers, and researchers. It also serves as the core foundation for the work ahead in making strong schools a reality for all children."
—Arthur Reynolds, University of Minnesota