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Jack Jennings
Jack Jennings is the author of Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools (Harvard Education Press, 2015).

He also is the former president and CEO of the Center on Education Policy (CEP), a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan, nonprofit education research organization. He founded CEP in 1995.

Prior to that position, from 1967 to 1994, he served as subcommittee staff director and then as a general counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and Labor.

He is a member of the National Academy of Education and served on the board of governors of the Phi Delta Kappa Foundation as well as on other boards and committees of various organizations..

He has received many awards, most recently from the American Educational Research Association and from the Learning First Alliance.

In March 2015, his new book was released: Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools (Harvard Education Press). This book summarizes a half-century of the history of federal aid to education and proposes for the future a different, research-based approach to school improvement.

Mr. Jennings' web site is

Entries by Jack Jennings

A Good Idea That Will Again Fail

(1) Comments | Posted July 14, 2016 | 8:11 AM

Should schools with student bodies primarily from low-income families spend less on the education of those children than is spent on the education of other students in the same school district?

Of course not! That practice violates common sense norms of justice and equity. If anything, children from poor families...

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Politics From Both Sides Hampering Public Education

(1) Comments | Posted May 18, 2016 | 8:06 PM

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 teachers' unions became involved with endorsing candidates for public...

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Who's Responsible for Student Indebtedness?

(0) Comments | Posted April 26, 2016 | 12:40 AM

"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 season.

Colleges and universities are blamed for...

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From Complaining to Helping

(0) Comments | Posted February 9, 2016 | 10:50 AM

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 unless higher education gets much more involved in helping....

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A Strong Voice from the Classroom

(1) Comments | Posted January 22, 2016 | 1:29 PM

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 until at the age of 39 he decided to become a...

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Career/Technical Education Helping High Schoolers

(1) Comments | Posted December 9, 2015 | 10:47 AM

The U.S. has a cookie-cutter approach to secondary education: Stay in school; go to college; and we'll be happy. Those who don't go along are considered "victims." They must be helped to see the benefits of college.

This is the judgement of Harold L. Sirkin, a business consultant...

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Multilingualism Is a National Asset, Not a Personal Shame

(0) Comments | Posted October 1, 2015 | 6:36 PM

The United States has a great strength: people in our country understand the languages of nearly every nation in the world. Large scale immigration--almost 30 million people during the past three decades--has brought us that advantage.

The ability to speak other languages is sorely needed for our national...

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National Leaders Fail in School Reform

(9) Comments | Posted August 24, 2015 | 4:12 PM

The American public has given its grade to national elected leaders for their attempts to improve the country's public schools. The verdict is an "F" for failure.

The public's alternative to the present policies, however, is also lacking according to the American public's very own views as shown in the...

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A Nation Adrift

(0) Comments | Posted July 14, 2015 | 4:32 PM

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 a new agenda to improve the nation's...

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Title I: Replace the 'Belle of the Ball'?

(0) Comments | Posted June 11, 2015 | 4:53 PM

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 Education Act of 1965.

In subsequent years, Title...

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After Cleaning up the NCLB Mess, Then What?

(1) Comments | Posted April 15, 2015 | 4:30 PM

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 improvement policy will remain with nothing...

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An "Informed Consumer" of Students' Test Scores

(0) Comments | Posted February 9, 2015 | 3:37 PM

When shopping for a car, dishwasher, or cell phone, a prospective buyer will often go to the Consumer Reports to learn about important aspects of the possible purchase. How does the product's performance compare to that of its competitors--and why? What are an item's best and worse features? What should...

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An Obituary for an Unattained Education Goal

(2) Comments | Posted December 22, 2014 | 4:03 PM

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, within a few days, 2014, the year for...

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What Should Parents Expect in the New School Year?

(0) Comments | Posted August 19, 2014 | 8:46 AM

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...

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When Something Goes Right...

(0) Comments | Posted May 6, 2014 | 4:30 PM

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 United States recorded its highest ever graduation...

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Are Current School Reforms Imperiling Long-Term Gains?

(0) Comments | Posted December 19, 2013 | 1:39 PM

A blizzard of education reports and studies appears every year. This swirl of information, analysis, and commentary -- some of which is contradictory -- makes it difficult to understand the condition of America's public schools. In short, are the schools getting better or worse?

In December...

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Privileging the Few over the Many in Education

(15) Comments | Posted September 9, 2013 | 9:40 AM

Ideas matter. In education, an under-appreciated but powerful example of the impact of ideas can be found in the influence of Ayn Rand, a Russian-American novelist and polemicist who died in 1982. In Rand's case, her ideas have helped to shape an environment where the well-being of the few is...

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Why Tests Should Not Be Used to Measure Teacher Performance

(12) Comments | Posted July 9, 2013 | 3:46 PM

Many states have reformed their teacher evaluation systems to hold public school teachers accountable for the academic achievement of their students. The hope is that if teachers are measured by the improvement -- or lack thereof -- in their students' achievement, they will work harder to ensure their students learn...

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The Neglected Purpose of Education

(7) Comments | Posted May 5, 2013 | 12:12 PM

"To prepare all citizens to become responsible members of a democratic society"

"To develop socialization and citizenship skills in children"

"Preparing students for responsible, productive citizenship and imbuing them with values common to one democratic society"

These similar phrases were developed by diverse groups of citizens in...

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Proportion of U.S. Students in Private Schools is 10 Percent and Declining

(9) Comments | Posted March 28, 2013 | 12:31 PM

One in 10 U.S. students in grades preK-12 attends a private school, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education. Surprised it's not a higher share?

Perhaps even more surprisingly, the private school share of total enrollments has decreased over the past 15...

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