Remembering Ruby Takanishi

ECFC and our philanthropic colleagues are terribly saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Ruby Takanishi, a preeminent scholar and powerful advocate who was fundamental to the growth of this nation’s movement to support the development of young children and their families and the field of early childhood and more broadly.

Through her work at New America’s Early and Elementary Education Policy Program, in her former role as President of the Foundation for Child Development (FCD), and through many other prestigious roles, Ruby led the way in our field in many areas – aligning the birth through third grade years, improving the early childhood workforce, using data to inform decisions, and applying a social justice lens.

It was Ruby who, amidst the push for Pre-K expansion, identified that too-many states did not have full or even part-day kindergarten, despite the evidence of kindergarten’s impact on children’s development.   She organized her colleague scientists and researchers to focus their attention on the development of young minds.  She pushed us to articulate what high quality early childhood education is, by arguing that short-term gains are insufficient.  She argued that K-12 doesn’t work without Pre-K, and that early childhood education needed to focus on developmental continuum from birth through age 8 to ensure that PreK through Grade 3 is part of an ECE system.

Nearly two decades ago, Ruby led the development and launch of FCD’s Prekindergarten-3rd Grade Framework, which envisioned a coordinated and aligned system of standards, sequenced curricula, instructional strategies, child assessments, and professional development systems that would enhance and sustain young children’s learning across the Prek-3rd grade continuum. Foreshadowing FCD’s current programmatic focus, Ruby argued that a well prepared and compensated early childhood workforce was pivotal to the success of the preschool movement.  Under Ruby’s direction, FCD also re-instituted its Young Scholars Program, designed to continue to nurture an emerging group of diverse early career scholars, grounded on the principle that the racial/ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity found within America’s children should be celebrated as an asset and a strength for families, communities, and the larger society.  Read the Foundation for Child Development’s memorial to Dr. Ruby Takanishi.

In March, 2020, the Society for Research in Child Development conducted an oral history interview with Ruby exploring her early influences and experiences that shaped her life and contributions to the field of early childhood. Read the interview transcription. 

With deep gratitude and passion, ECFC and our members will continue to pursue our vision, elevated and made possible by Ruby’s legacy – that all children have an equitable opportunity for healthy development and learning, in the context of their families and communities.

ECFC Members Remember Ruby