Thanks for starting this. We use R quite a lot at UP. We also use some Python.
We have created several R packages to connect to databases / known flat files and return a well-structured response, which we use to make development faster. I would be happy to demo our approach if folks are interested.
Many of our packages are private because they include queries to databases, and the database provider could consider the field/table names private information. We have connections in either R or Python to Deanlist, Illuminate (private, through there is this), Aspen (private), Massachusetts state education site, and our own database.
I could probably make a very basic public R package to help folks connect to the SchoolZilla database R, if there is interest and if SZ is OK with it.
@shalvorson -- Have you looked at janitor? It was created by a couple of Ed types to handle some similar data manipulation tasks to yours -- some of your functions might make good contributions!
@jstewart -- I haven't found the Tableau / R integration to be very helpful. It's usually easier to take the approach that you are taking, and doing your initial manipulation in R, then either using tabcmd to update extracts or load the result to your own DB for connecting in Tableau.
@amanda_gonzalez -- Check out httr for connecting to APIs in R. It works really well for simple APIs. I use Python when I need better logging, exception handling, or complex json parsing than R offers, but for well-structured, reliable APIs it's pretty simple to use R.