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Jean Johnson  

Editor of Webby-Award Winning Public Interest Site

Jean Johnson is Executive Vice President of Public Agenda and head of its Education Insights division which focuses on education issues. At Public Agenda, she has authored or co-authored opinion studies on education, higher education, families, religion, race relations, civility, and foreign policy. Working with Public Agenda colleague Scott Bittle, Johnson is the co-author of a series of books designed to explain complex public policy issues for general readers. The New York Times said their first book, Where Does the Money Go? Your Guided Tour to the Federal Budget Crisis (Harper Paperbacks) is "a book that manages to be entertaining and irreverent while serving as an informative primer on a subject that is crucial to the future of all Americans." Johnson and Bittle released a revised verison of Where Does the Money Go in 2011. The second book in the series, Who Turned Out the Lights? Your Guided Tour to the Energy Crisis (Harper Paperbacks), helps readers understand the basic terms shaping the debate.

With the United States on the verge of a crippling energy crisis that will change our way of life and possibly jeopardize our national security, Johnson and Bittle offer a much needed reality check - and a refreshingly nonpartisan one. In Who Turned Out the Lights? they help define the fundamental concepts that shape the debate and explain the three risks we face: that we won't be able to afford energy; that we'll run out of it; and that we'll destroy the planet before we have a chance to solve the problem. They guide readers through a range of ideas on the agenda, including alternative fuels, nuclear power, conservation, alternative forms of transportation, and alternative living patterns. They'll answer questions that people pretend to understand, but don't, including:

    What exactly are biofuels and carbon sequestration, and why do they matter?

    Why are we making ethanol from corn when there are worldwide food shortages?

    Is nuclear power so dangerous that it should be taken off the table as an option?

Johnson is the principal author of Life After High School: Young People Talk about their Hopes and Prospects and Reality Check, which tracks attitudes among parents, students, teachers, and administrators on key education topics. She has also published articles and opinion pieces on education issues in USA Today, Education Week, School Board News, and Columbia University's Teachers College Record.

Johnson has appeared on CNN, Bill Moyers' Journal, NPR's Fresh Air, the Today Show, Lou Dobbs Tonight, and The O'Reilly Factor and is a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College and holds master's degrees from Brown University and Simmons College. She is also managing director of Sugal Records, a small classical music recording company based in New York.

Who Turned Out the Lights? Your Guided Tour to the Energy Crisis


Where Does the Money Go? Your Guided Tour to the Federal Budget Crisis


Why the U.S. Has to Shift Gears on Energy Starting Now – And Why It’s Not Just About Climate Change


What Most Americans Don’t Know About How the U.S. Uses Energy – And How It Could Hurt Us


How Politics and Finger-Pointing Have Derailed the Country’s Ability to Solve Its Energy Problems


The Looming Federal Budget Crisis and National Debt, and How Politics and Lack of Public Understanding Got Us to Where We Are Today


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