Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools

Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools The Politics of Education Reform

Jack Jennings, Foreword by Michael J. Feuer
cloth, 272 Pages
Pub. Date: March 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-797-2
Price: 70.00

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paper, 272 Pages
Pub. Date: March 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-796-5
Price: 35.00

Add to Cart

Pub. Date: March 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-798-9
April 2015 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the landmark legislation that has provided the foundation of federal education policy in the United States. In Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools, longtime policy analyst Jack Jennings examines the evolution of federal education policy and outlines a bold and controversial vision for its future.
Jennings brings an insider’s knowledge to this account, offering a vivid analysis of federal efforts in the education arena and revealing some of the factors that shaped their enactment. His rich descriptions and lively anecdotes provide pointed lessons about the partisan climate that stymies much federal policy making today. After assessing the impacts of Title I and NCLB, and exploring the variety of ways that the federal government has intervened in education, Jennings sets forth an ambitious agenda for reframing education as a federal civil right and ensuring that every child has the opportunity to learn.


No one knows more about ESEA and especially Title I than Jack Jennings. Here he tells a remarkably unbiased, informed, and crisp story about the politics, battles, and decisions made by Congress over the past fifty years. As Jennings makes clear, the story is not over. His conclusions propose a new and important course for Congress. — Marshall (Mike) Smith, former under secretary, U.S. Department of Education

Jennings has written an admirably bold proposal for overhauling the federal role in K–12 education, with an eye to both student learning and equity. Arguing that NCLB has not lived up to its promise, he presents a blueprint for an improved balance in the federal-state relationship, one providing flexibility and accountability. His ideas merit serious attention and debate. — Elizabeth DeBray, professor of educational administration and policy, University of Georgia

Only Jack Jennings could have written this unique and important account of federal involvement in education. Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools is a must-read contribution to American education policy that will stimulate important conversations about our future. — Gene Wilhoit, founder and executive director, Center for Innovation in Education, and partner, Student Achievement Partners

If you agree with everything in this book you probably didn't read it closely. But if you don't read it you're missing a unique account of federal education policy from someone who was in the middle of it for decades. Jennings offers a concise history and some ideas about new directions that show what federal education policy has accomplished and how much work remains. — Andrew J. Rotherham, cofounder and partner, Bellwether Education

Jennings’s book provides wonderful contributions to our understanding of the federal politics of education. — Gerard Robinson, Journal of School Choice

This is a thorough accounting of past federal education policy that also offers innovative, much-needed solutions to revitalize a troubled national public school system. — Youth Today

This is a great historical read for those interested in the chronology of federal legislation on public education. In light of the current polarization of our political parties and their stances on public education, this book is also a good research tool for the 2016 presidential and congressional elections. — Robert J. Clark, AASA

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About the Author

Jack Jennings is the founder and former CEO of the Center on Education Policy. He served for twenty-seven years as a subcommittee staff director and then as general counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor.

Michael J. Feuer is the dean and professor of education at The George Washington University, and president of the National Academy of Education.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Michael J. Feuer

Interview with Author

Discussion Questions

Blog Post: "Will Education Flourish After NCLB's Repeal?"

E-book available through online booksellers

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