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Bruce Fuller

Professor *
Ph.D., Stanford University

The distribution of quality preschool slots – spread among diverse neighborhoods – has long preoccupied Prof. Fuller’s research team. The supply of child care and preschool varies dramatically across local markets shaped by maternal employment, family wealth, public funding and local policies. The rapid growth of Latino communities in particular often leaves families with scarce access to preschool options.

Prof. Fuller’s research group recently completed a study (October 7, 2014) of how New York City, under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vigorous effort to widen access, distributed new pre-k slots across boroughs and communities, rich and poor. Read the full study, Expanding Preschool in New York City – Which Communities Benefit from Gains in Supply?

Earlier research on the uneven distribution of preschool slots within states and nationwide appears in Prof. Fuller’s book, Standardized Childhood: The Political and Cultural Struggle over Early Education.

Working inside policy organizations and the academy over the past three decades, Bruce Fuller has asked how public action best strengthens families and schools. He helped to design policy reforms for a free-thinking California governor, and advised opposition leaders on education reform as democracy emerged in southern Africa. Professor Fuller has studied child care programs arising at the grassroots or state run in Latin America. A fundamental question continues to motivate this array of research and writings: How can central governments enrich families and schools when situated in colorfully pluralistic societies? In short, what happens when government confronts culture?

Trained in political sociology, Professor Fuller's recent projects center on small-scale organizations that sprout across diverse communities, such as charter schools and preschools, which often spread in response to the clumsy or gray character of central states. Yet, decentralized institutions can disempower central governments, a worrisome scenario for those concerned with equity. Professor Fuller's current research delves into how young children are socialized in diverse Mexican-American homes, and what neighborhood organizations effectively advance their development. His recent book, Standardized Childhood: The Political and Cultural Struggle over Early Education, examines how elite reformers often push for state incorporation of community programs, even eroding the authority and resources spread across diverse ethnic leaders.

Professor Fuller also looks into fields that have become hyper-centralized, exemplified by his critical work on No Child Left Behind. A college dropout, he eventually received his Ph.D. from Stanford University. Before coming to Berkeley, Professor Fuller was a research sociologist at the World Bank and taught at Harvard's School of Education.

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