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
A Civil Right to a Good Education (January 2012)
The results of the latest student test results were disappointing. Both PISA, an internationally sponsored exam, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the U.S. government tests, found that students’ education suffered during the pandemic. Particularly sad were the low scores of children from the families with the lowest incomes.
American educators are working to reverse these trends, but they need help.
The U.S. should enact a law requiring that every child receive a good education. If necessary, this statute could be limited in its range to class action lawsuits and not permit an individual right to sue. That provision would make the administration of the law more manageable without limiting its effectiveness.
We must do more than we are doing now and we should do it in a different way. How many more reports do we need?
Below is a blog I wrote in January, 2012 about this issue for the HuffPost. Jack Jennings
by Jack Jennings, first published by the HuffPost on January 30, 2012.
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.
Fatigued by School Reform
Latest book by Jack Jennings available online and at many bookstores.
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:
Tolerance of other points of view and respect for others as fellow citizens must be a conscious goal.
I am honored to be part of this celebration of the life of Tom Wolanin. Donna, Andrew, Peter and other members of the family, you have the sympathy of everyone in this room. All of us knew Tom during his long career. We admired his talents. And, today, we salute him...
“(A)n education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge.” President Trump broadcast this biting condemnation in his inaugural address. A short time later, Trump proposed cutting education spending by 13%....
The academic achievement of elementary and secondary students from the 1970s through to the current decade is shown through the unique Long-term Trend Assessments, but the usefulness of that trend line measurement is imperiled by a proposed delay of 12 years until its next administration. This paper argues for greater support for this assessment.
If the U.S. were to value education as much as military activities, the schools would be better funded.
This memorandum explains the methodology used to determine the total amount spent for primary and secondary education by the nations of the world. It also explains how much U.S. expenditures would have to increase to reach a third of that total.
In this interview, Jack Jennings comments on the new U.S. Secretary of Education and the national role in education.
President Trump is violating his pledge to respect state and local control of education by proposing to shift funds from regular public schools to charter schools and private schools.
If competition is good for public education, shouldn’t it be beneficial for the U.S. Armed Forces?
The 2016 elections are now behind us, but what remains is a divided country. Some people are very happy feeling that their voices finally were heard. Others are depressed believing that prejudice and divisiveness won. These strongly held opinions will not fade soon....
A longtime federal education authority concocts a three-part cure for addressing a common school leader’s phobia Psychologists label them phobias. They are a fear of something such as heights, closed spaces or ever-smiling elected officials. Science and medicine...
During the last fifteen years, the reputation of the federal government in education has gone downhill.
A cultural shift from “publish or perish” to “educate students well.”
Boldness needs to be matched by prudence.
Unfortunately, equitable funding is not going to happen.
Fifty Years of Federal Aid to Schools: Back into the Future? Jack Jennings* Excerpts from an article appearing in Volume 3 Education Law & Policy Review 2016 In 1965, the federal government began to provide major financial aid for education to states and local...
Public schools would be better if two major obstacles were removed. Teachers’ unions have injected too much partisanship into schooling, and conservatives have undercut the promise of a good education for all students. These two issues are interconnected. The more the...
“College costs too much!” “My college loans are killing me!” The candidates for the presidency are hearing these complaints as they race around the country. Affordability of a college education is among the few education issues to attract attention in this election...
Higher education has a bone to pick with public schools. Too many high school graduates entering colleges and universities are not prepared for post-secondary education. That complaint is true enough, but the missing element is that lower education cannot improve...
John Thompson is a truth-teller. A Teacher’s Tale, his new book, honestly addresses the toughest issue in American education—how to improve urban schools impacted by concentrations of poor children. Thompson worked in higher education and then did legislative lobbying...