Posted on March 21, 2013

Department of Ed Creates New Six-Figure job, While Wielding Sequester Ax

Fox News, March 20, 2013

The Department of Education’s sequester cuts are taking a brutal toll on federally-funded schools on Native American reservations, but the federal agency still found money to create a new six-figure job promoting “Educational Excellence for African-Americans.”

School officials on reservations across Minnesota have begun making painful cuts to the current budget in anticipation of sequester cuts, adding students to classrooms, slashing course offerings and leaving vacant jobs unfilled, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. At least one reservation is considering shortening the school year to save money.


State education advocates say the cuts could threaten hard-won progress made by Native Americans. Last year saw graduation rates at 22 Native American school districts rise 3 percentage points, up to about 45 percent.


But in Washington, education funding cuts did not stop the appointment this month of a former elementary school teacher and aide to Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. to the job of executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans. David Johns was given the newly created job, where he will be “asked to identify evidence-based best practices to improve African-American student achievement from cradle to career,” according to the Department of Education.

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.”

Previously, the White House has created similar initiatives to serve Hispanics, Asian-American and Pacific Islanders and American Indian and Native Americans and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. {snip}

Johns had been serving as a senior education policy adviser to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Before that, he was a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Fellow in Rangel’s office. Johns’ salary in the new job is $123,758, according to a department official.

{snip} While most school districts are funded with local taxes, those on tax-exempt Native American lands depend on federal funding.