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Jack Jennings
Jack Jennings is the former president and CEO of the Center on Education Policy, a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan, nonprofit education research organization.

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 of the board of governors of the Phi Delta Kappa Foundation.

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).

Mr. Jennings' web site is

Entries by Jack Jennings

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Congress is finally grappling with which parts of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) ought to be repealed or retained.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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California Is Back!

(3) Comments | Posted February 15, 2013 | 1:45 PM

Educators in the Nation's largest state are breathing a deep sigh of relief that public schooling has been freed from the political and economic morass in which it has been mired for over a decade. Bottles of champagne are not yet being popped because educators want to be sure that...

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Breaking the Congressional Logjam on Education

(1) Comments | Posted January 23, 2013 | 3:21 PM

Daily, members of Congress orate on the need for American schools to improve. Yet today, the legislation authorizing every major federal program to assist education has expired or will soon lapse due to the lack of action by Congress. The only way these programs continue temporally is under a Congressional...

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Mind the Gap!

(0) Comments | Posted December 19, 2012 | 11:08 AM

American tourists are often amused when traveling on the London "tube" to hear the announcement at each station to "mind the gap." This attention-getting advice is meant to warn passengers exiting the subway car to step over the space between the car and the platform.

American education has its own...

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Making Neighborhood Schools Better: Hard Work, Not Magic

(3) Comments | Posted November 20, 2012 | 12:10 PM

Many people hope that magic solutions can be found to improve low-performing schools. Philanthropists, hedge fund millionaires, and others interested in reform have put their funds and faith in charter schools or virtual learning, as though these approaches have special powers that will produce a sudden breakthrough to educational excellence.

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'Heroes' Aren't Just Men and Women in Military Uniforms

(5) Comments | Posted October 13, 2012 | 1:59 PM

Two basic functions are essential to democratic societies: educating the young and defending citizens from attack. But in the U.S. today, quite different attitudes have developed about each of these functions.

In a nutshell, our nation's schools are considered failures, while the armed forces are beyond reproach.

This double...

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When Politics Comes First: The Reasons Republicans Shifted to Supporting Private Schools

(2) Comments | Posted September 12, 2012 | 12:17 PM

Mitt Romney has pledged that if elected president he will enact a voucher program that would allow parents of low-income and special needs students "to choose from any district or public charter school, or a private school where permitted by state law." This position has become the norm...

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The Power to Motivate

(0) Comments | Posted June 5, 2012 | 5:13 PM

The classic scene from a sports movie occurs in the locker room at half time when the coach delivers a rousing speech to motivate the players to win. Beneath this cliché lies a basic truth -- that in sports, the desire of the players to do their best is as...

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A Civil Right to a Good Education

(1) Comments | Posted January 30, 2012 | 10:35 AM

American schools are not as good as they need to be, according to President Obama, the Republican presidential candidates, business leaders, and many others. It has not been for want of trying to improve education, so the problem must be the way we have gone about it.

Over the last...

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Coal for Christmas

(1) Comments | Posted January 10, 2012 | 12:13 PM

In 19th century England, children were told by their parents that if they didn't behave, Father Christmas would bring them coal for Christmas instead of nice presents.

Two weeks ago, American children in large urban school districts did not produce the higher test scores hoped for by adults. Does this...

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