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

An Obituary for an Unattained Education Goal (December 2014)

Who wouldn’t want every child in the country well-educated? In 2001 national leaders adopted that as the guiding principle for American education, but then married it to an unworkable system of ineffective techniques and insufficient funding. The result was the quiet burial in 2014 of the No Child Left Behind Act. The blog that I wrote at that time follows.

Read more . . .

by Jack Jennings, first published by the HuffPost on December 23, 2014.

* Oldies But Goodies Archive

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

* Literary Works Archive

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


Rowman & Littlefield



Will Education Flourish After NCLB’s Repeal?

No other federal law has generated more hostility from teachers and other educators than the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). That statute has been denounced for causing too much testing of school children, making teachers “teach to the test” to avoid penalties, and...

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A Nation Adrift

Today, attention is on the Congress as it addresses changes to the No Child Left Behind Act. That action is overdue since the law expired eight years ago. But, it must be understood that congressional amendments are merely removing unpopular requirements, not creating...

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Title I: Replace the “Belle of the Ball”?

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson launched a campaign to improve education, especially of children from low-income families. An unprecedented billion dollars of new aid was sent to the schools under the first part or "title" of the Elementary and Secondary...

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After Cleaning up the NCLB Mess, Then What?

Congress is finally grappling with which parts of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) ought to be repealed or retained. Various officials, and the president who must sign the final agreement, have different lists. After the squabbling, a shadow of a national school...

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Interviews about Jack Jennings’s new book, Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools: The Politics of Education Reform

In the last six months, there have been four radio and webinar interviews with Jack Jennings about Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools. This list of the interviews contains the working web connections as of May 23, 2015. At times, those web addresses change...

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Presentation and Signing: Jack Jennings’s new book, Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools: The Politics of Education Reform

Invitation to a presentation and signing of Jack Jennings’s new book, Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools: The Politics of Education Reform

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ESEA at 50

The Phi Delta Kappan magazine (April 2015) contains an article written by Jack Jennings on the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the fundamental federal law in the area of education. ESEA at 50 should be available through http://pdk.sagepub.com/content/96/7.toc.

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From Negative to Positive School Reform

Test-driven accountability has produced a negative atmosphere for school reform, without fulfilling its promise of general improvement. The country must move to a positive, long-term improvement strategy based on research and educators’ experiences. The following article by Jack Jennings, which appeared in Education Week the week of February 23, 2015, describes this need drawing from his book, Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools (Harvard Education Press).

Jack Jennings Positive School Reform Reimagining the ESEA

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New Book by Jack Jennings Available: Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools

In March the Harvard Education Press released a new book by Jack Jennings. Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools analyzes a half century of national school improvement efforts, such as Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the No Child Left...

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An Obituary for an Unattained Education Goal

By 2014, every child should be proficient in reading/English language arts and mathematics. In so many words, this noble purpose was established in 2002 by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) as the Nation's guiding principle for improving public education. But,...

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What Should Parents Expect in the New School Year?

It's late August, and thoughts are turning toward getting the kids ready for school. It seems hardly a few weeks ago that school was over for the summer, and here it is time for them to go back. Kids will be in a higher grade than last year, and they are speculating...

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When Something Goes Right…

When something goes right for the country, we should first thank those who made it possible. And then, enjoy the moment before being overwhelmed again by reports of wars, mud slides, and unemployment. In April, the U.S. Department of Education announced that the...

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