Welcome

I’m Jack Jennings. My web site is dedicated to the improvement of public education by using objective analyses based on sound data.

Several years ago, at a congressional hearing which I had organized, committee chair Gus Hawkins asked the disputing witnesses if they could at least agree on what the data showed. The witnesses were taken aback and did not know how to respond. They could only repeat their earlier testimony which was irrelevant to the question. In fact, they were using data not as a guide but rather as a way to support their previously determined positions.

My beliefs were greatly influenced by my experiences in the 27 years I worked for the U.S. Congress. This career was made possible by four Congressmen who were leaders of the Committee on Education and Labor in the House of Representatives. Although these men represented very different parts of the country, they shared a belief that the federal government had a role in education.

Roman Pucinski of Chicago, Carl Perkins of Kentucky, Gus Hawkins of Los Angeles, and Bill Ford of suburban Detroit each believed that the federal government ought to work to improve education and to encourage people to gain as much schooling and training as possible.

Congressman Pucinski, hired me just out of law school, Congressmen Perkins, Hawkins, and Ford retained and promoted me although they had no obligation to do so. In 1995, that portion of my career ended when I retired. I am grateful for the opportunity to create legislation to improve education despite obstacles as seen in the earlier reference to the Hawkins hearing. A specially critical area is aid for poor children, with controversies over accountability, tuition vouchers, and many other ideas.

To help you with your research, the material is arranged by topic and by date published. Also, the newest entries are shown below.

The idea behind Oldies But Goodies is that earlier postings which are still relevant in today’s policy debates ought to be brought back for another viewing. Several times a month different ones will be posted mostly from a pool of 43 blogs that I wrote for the HuffPost. If you can’t wait and want to read all those blogs, go to https://www.huffpost.com/author/jackjenningsdc-435

Oldies But Goodies

Girlie, a stageplay by Jack Jennings

Whether to run off with her lover or stay in a difficult but comfortable marriage is the question facing the heroine of this two-act play written by Jack Jennings in 2021.

Literary Works by Jack Jennings

I have had three careers in my life: working for Congress for 27 years, establishing and running a Washington-based think tank, and writing fiction. My first attempt in this new career was the following article on getting older.

Thoughts on Being Old

Los Pensamientos de un Anciano

Three students in public school classroom
Jack Jennings | Education Policy and Reform | Education Legislation and History #jackjenningsdc
Teacher and three students in public school classroom

Fatigued by School Reform

Latest book by Jack Jennings available online and at many bookstores.

Jack Jennings's new book, Fatigued by School Reform

Fatigued by School Reform, by Jack Jennings

After a half-a-century of school reform, a majority of Americans consider the public schools as worse today than when they attended them. This book concludes that the country’s major reforms missed the mark because they did not address adequately the great influence of family backgrounds on school success, as the Coleman Report of 1966 clearly documented.

Fatigued by School Reform shows the importance of involving parents in their children’s education, and helping poor and lower middle class students to overcome the limitations of low socio-economic status. Also essential is raising teacher quality.

A fundamental part of school reform, however, has been ignored by almost all reformers. If economic and social conditions are improved leading to better family backgrounds, student performance should also improve. Students’ family backgrounds are that influential.

This book was published in 2020. A year later President Biden secured one-year funding that would reduce the number of poor children in school by nearly one-half. Senator Bennet (Dem. Colo.) said that this change was really school reform.

As of summer 2022, Biden and Bennet’s one-year funding has not been extended; both, however, have said they will continue to press forward. Fatigued by School Reform shows the need for this policy or for similar changes.

Long-lasting school improvement is dependent on factors outside the school building. That is the key conclusion of this book.

Available now at:

Barnes and Nobles

Amazon

Rowman & Littlefield

 


 

Girlie — How the play came about

An article written by Jack Jennings, published in The Clarion "I wonder what became of the other folks?" was a comment from one of the first people to read "Girlie," a play that I finished writing in October. Elly, Tommie, Birch, Mrs. Herrity, and Mrs. Sweeney are...

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Girlie, a play by Jack Jennings

Whether to run off with her lover or stay in a difficult but comfortable marriage is the question facing the heroine of this two-act play written by Jack Jennings. The script for the stageplay Girlie is downloadable, below. Also, "Girlie", an article written by Jack...

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Narrative Biography

The New York State Archives maintains a trove of information on the relationship between the federal and the state governments on their dealings in education. In 2013-14, Jack Jennings was one of the advisors to that project. This is the biography the Archives used...

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The American Rescue Plan Act: The Most Significant School Reform Since the 1960’s

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed legislation to deal with the pandemic and the Nation’s economic problems. Included in this measure are provisions meant to reduce the number of children in poverty by one-third to one-half. Un-noted in this debate has been the...

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Los Pensamientos de un Anciano

Ser anciano es ser más débil, un recuerdo que el carácter de una persona, ni fuerza ni belleza, es la cosa más importante. Ser anciano es conocer la muerte, por lo tanto el tiempo pasado con los seres amados es precioso. Ser anciano es sufrir el dolor física y...

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Thoughts on Being Old

To be old is to be physically weaker, a reminder that a person’s true character, not strength or beauty, is what counts. To be old is to be familiar with death, showing the value of spending time with loved ones. To be old is to suffer pain both physical and...

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An Honor

“The 100 Best Education Reform Books of All Time,” includes Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools written by Jack Jennings. On July 10, 2020. the BookAuthority, which had developed this listing of the best books, displayed on its web site their titles and...

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Jack Jennings | Education Policy and Reform | Education Legislation and History #jackjenningsdc