David J. Johns

Guest Blogger

Former Executive Director, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans

Washington, D.C.

David J. Johns is the former executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. The Initiative works across federal agencies and with partners and communities nationwide to produce a more effective continuum of education programs for African American students.

Prior to joining the Department, Johns was a senior education policy advisor to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) under the leadership of Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. Before working for the Senate HELP committee under Chairman Harkin, Johns served under the leadership of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. Johns also was a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Fellow in the office of Congressman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y.

Johns has worked on issues affecting low-income and minority students, neglected youth and early childhood education and with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). His research as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow served as a catalyst to identify, disrupt and supplant negative perceptions of black males within academia and society. Johns is committed to volunteer services and maintains an active commitment to improve literacy among adolescent minority males.

Johns obtained a master’s degree in sociology and education policy at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he graduated summa cum laude while simultaneously teaching elementary school in New York City. He graduated with honors from Columbia University in 2004 with a triple major in English, creative writing and African American studies. Johns was named to the Root100 in both 2014 and 2013, selected as a member of the Ebony Power 100 in 2015 and received an early career award from Columbia University, Teachers College in 2016.

RECENT POSTS

Posted Feb. 21, 2017

#MyBlackHistory: Why I’m Celebrating Every Black Genius From City Blocks to the White House

We will never meet a Black child who is not a genius and there is no secret to how we support them: We first treat them as human and then we then support them with love. …

By David J. Johns

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Posted Nov. 10, 2016

7-Year-Old Jordan West on Writing a Book, a Literacy Princess Party at the White House and Why Every Girl Is Smart, Beautiful and Special

Jordan West wants every girl—regardless of circumstance—to feel smart, beautiful and special. Wearing a tiara, Jordan read the book she…

By Lauren Mims, David J. Johns

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Posted Sep. 13, 2016

Here’s a Teacher Who Shows Teaching Is a Profession of Love

Robert Gardley may be new to the teaching profession, but his energy and enthusiasm in working with youth is second…

By David J. Johns, Cierra Kaler-Jones

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Posted Aug. 30, 2016

5 Ways Schools and Communities Can Support Homeless and Foster Care Youth

The experiences of homeless students are often rendered invisible. Students often hesitate to share that they are homeless due to…

By Justin Lang, David J. Johns

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Posted Aug. 11, 2016

3 Reasons Why Every Kid Should Be Financially Literate

Discussing finances can be uncomfortable, especially in households that are in debt or struggling to make ends meet. What could…

By Norman West, David J. Johns

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Posted Aug. 3, 2016

Here’s How We Keep Kids in School and Stop Chronic Absenteeism

Each year, the best part of my job is shaking the hands of our almost 8,000 high school graduates. I…

By S. Dallas Dance, David J. Johns

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Posted July 19, 2016

5 Reasons the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Is Just as Relevant Today

Sixty-two years ago this month, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation in public places and prohibited discrimination on…

By Andrene Jones-Castro, David J. Johns

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Posted July 15, 2016

5 Things You Can Do to Support First-Generation College Students

The elation I felt upon my acceptance to Ohio State University felt too distant to recall as I walked out…

By Caitlyn James Homol, David J. Johns

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Posted June 17, 2016

Here’s How We Can Ensure Educational Opportunities to Support Black Women and Girls

There are very few spaces where women are affirmed and acknowledged as mothers, sisters, partners and leaders. There are even…

By Andrene Jones-Castro, David J. Johns

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Posted June 6, 2016

Here’s A Baltimore Teacher Who Champions Students Inside and Outside of the Classroom

Corey Carter, more affectionately known by his students as Mr. Carter, didn’t always envision himself as a science teacher. Sitting…

By David J. Johns, Cierra Kaler-Jones

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Featured Posts

Posted Nov. 13, 2017

The Worst Thing About Being a Homeless Student Was the Hunger

Have you ever been so hungry that it caused you physical pain? I’m not talking the kind of hunger that sneaks up when you’ve realized…

By Lizzy Shoben

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Posted Nov. 10, 2017

Could This Teacher and Leadership Program Be Part of the ‘Secret Sauce’ for Chicago Schools?

In most urban school districts, “turnaround” is a dirty word. Turnaround schools are first identified as failing and left to languish for some time in…

By Maureen Kelleher

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Posted Nov. 13, 2017

I Didn’t Want My Students to Have to Choose Between Hunger and Making Friends

I have a weakness. I’m not good at saying no. Last summer, I was invited to attend a focus group on school breakfast at the…

By Angela Homan

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