The New Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans

david-j-johnsDavid J. Johns has been appointed as the executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. As executive director Johns will be asked to identify evidence-based best practices to improve African American student achievement from cradle to career. The goal of the initiative is to work with federal, state, and local agencies as well as community groups to produce a more effective continuum of education programs for African American students.

Johns has been serving as a senior education policy advisor to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. He is a former elementary school teacher in New York City.

Johns is a graduate of Columbia University where he triple majored in English, creative writing, and African American studies. He earned a master’s degree in sociology and education policy at Teachers College of Columbia University.

Related Articles


  1. My wife and I live near Rochester, N.Y. where the scholastic performance is horrible, despite years of initiatives and money being thrown at the problem. My observation is nothing is going to help without the involvement of the parent(s). Nothing Mr. Johns tries to do will help when the students aren’t even in school! Just check the graduation rates in the Rochester School District! If the family does not value an education enough to make sure their children even go to school, how can we expect the students to value that education.

    • You can organize like-minded individuals in Rochester, NY, to overthrow the status-quo. Don’t accept what is. Build a movement. You seem to know what’s required…

  2. @Kenneth, I echo your sentiments exactly! Parents have to be there to guide their children, otherwise it becomes very difficult for students to care about education or even to succeed.

  3. Obama’s RTTT K-12 policy is destructive, divisive, and toxic. Obama’s education policy is abysmal and it has deleterious effects on Black and Brown students around the country. Appointing Johns (or anyone, for that matter) to reinforce a toxic education policy is ONLY bound to make things worse.

    This is not progress.

    To quote Malcolm X: “You don’t stick a knife in a man’s back nine inches and then pull it out six inches and say you’re making progress.”

    I would caution Black people to stop mistaking vanity for dignity.

    • Brother Zimboni,
      I agree wholeheartedly with you! All this “brother” Johns is going to do or is doing, is stating and restating the problem as most politicians or those who “tout” for politicians do! As a mature African-American male doctoral candidate-Ed.D. Executive Leadership, I’m taking my “education” and becoming more creative and offering Blacks some real viable alternatives to education. Brother you’ve captured the essence of this deceptive practice very well!
      Yours in the struggle,


    • Zomboni, the president can be a conduit for gathering information on “best practices” and disseminating it. Why fault him for this? He can also use his bully pulpit to encourage better; and he has, on numerous occasions. But an “Almighty Obama” doesn’t exist. It is WE THE PEOPLE who must do the heavy lifting. Local communities and the states must do the job. Expecting presidents to do it is a waste of time; it ain’t gonna happen. Just what is it you want them to do that you can’t? Inquiring minds want to know, like yesterday! Let’s get out of our “Twilight Zones” and do what needs to be done…

  4. Congrats to Mr. Johns!

    Often we say that parents are needed, and I agree the value of education must be in the homes. However, since the value of education is not in some homes, we cannot give up the fight.

    We must work with what we have—and many times—it is just the student. Hard to do; but this is the only hope in most situations.

    All efforts cannot be dismissed and must be embraced, regardless of the location and values of parents.

    We have a natural disaster on your hards!

    Read here: copy and paste

  5. Congrats Mr. Johns!

    I’m willing to join your team by working in the Jacksonville, Florida community to accomplish the Initiative’s goal. I’ll be contacting your office.

  6. I’m Kevin Dorival, mentor, author, and host of the Black On Black Crime Solutions Panel. I like what Mr. John is doing because at least its towards the right direction. I would love to get more support in what I’m currently doing because we need more support. I know this is an old article but the problem is prevalent in today’s society. Please, reach out to me.

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Black Film Project and Film Studies Fellowships Established at Harvard University

Henry Louis Gates Jr., professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, will direct the newly established Black Film Project, an initiative aiming to support independent films focusing on Black history and culture.

Higher Education Grants or Gifts of Interest to African Americans

Here is this week’s news of grants or gifts to historically Black colleges and universities or for programs of particular interest to African Americans in higher education.

Yale Library Acquires Digital Collection of Langston Hughes Papers

In a recent December upload, the Yale University Library added a collection of papers from Black poet Langston Hughes to the school's online archive. The collection contains correspondence between Hughes and other authors and civil rights activists of his time.

Academic Fields Where Blacks Earned Few or No Doctoral Degrees in 2022

In 2022, African Americans earned 1.2 percent of all mathematics and statistics doctorates, 1.2 percent of all doctorates in computer science, 1.7 percent of all doctorates in chemistry, and only 1.7 percent of all doctorates awarded in engineering disciplines.

Featured Jobs