Paul E. Peterson

Senior Fellow
Research Team: 
Awards and Honors:
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
National Academy of Education

Paul E. Peterson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a member of the Koret Task Force on K–12 Education, and editor in chief of Education Next: A Journal of Opinion and Research. He is also the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government and director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University. His research interests include educational policy, federalism, and urban policy. He has evaluated the effectiveness of school vouchers and other education reform initiatives.

In 2006, Peterson was appointed leader of the Florida state Education Citizen Review Group and is a member of the Department of Education’s independent review panel, which is evaluating No Child Left Behind. In 2003, he was awarded the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation Prize for Distinguished Scholarship. Among the many other honors and fellowships Peterson has received are a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a German Marshall Fund of the United States Fellowship, and a Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award from the American Political Science Association for the best book published in politics, government, or international relations. The Editorial Projects in Education Research Center reported that Peterson’s studies on school choice and vouchers were among the country’s most influential studies of education policy.

Peterson is a former director of governmental studies at the Brookings Institution and has been elected to the National Academy of Education and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

His most recent book, with Eric Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann, Endangering Prosperity: A Global View of the American School, documents the large economic costs of a stagnant K-12 education system. Other works include Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning, School Money Trials: The Legal Pursuit of Educational Adequacy; The Education Gap: Vouchers and Urban Schools; Reforming Education in Florida: A Study Prepared by the Koret Task Force on K-12 Education; Generational Change: Closing the Test Score Gap; and Choice and Competition in American Education.

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Recent Commentary

Opportunity Knocks

by Paul E. Petersonvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Upward mobility is alive and well—at least where schools, families, and neighborhoods flourish.

Black students in a classroom
Other Media

Not Just the Problems of Other People's Children: U.S. Student Performance in Global Perspective

by Eric Hanushek, Paul E. Peterson, Ludger Woessmannvia Harvard's Program on Education Policy and Governance (PEPG)
Thursday, May 15, 2014
“The big picture of U.S. performance on the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is straightforward and stark: It is a picture of educational stagnation.... Fifteen-year-olds in the U.S. today are average in science and reading literacy, and below average in mathematics, compared to their counterparts in [other industrialized] countries.”
Education and finance
Featured Commentary

Six Keys to Economic Opportunity

by Paul E. Petersonvia Washington Times
Sunday, February 9, 2014

When the president declared in his State of the Union address that "social mobility has stalled" and "our job is to reverse these trends," he overlooked six major findings from two equal-economic-opportunity studies recently released by Harvard economist Raj Chetty and his colleagues.

Higher Grades, Higher GDP

by Eric Hanushek, Paul E. Petersonvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The stronger the student performance, the more prosperous the nation.


Common Core and the War on Self-Deception

by Paul E. Petersonvia Education Next
Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Learning the truth about schools helps the school reform cause


America’s Schools Earn a ‘C’ on Their Report Card

by Eric Hanushek, Paul E. Petersonvia Education Next
Sunday, December 8, 2013

NCLB needs a variety of (obvious) fixes, but abandoning accountability is not among them.


Schools Improve When Leaders Stop Rationalizing Mediocrity

by Eric Hanushek, Paul E. Petersonvia Education Next
Friday, December 6, 2013

If the superintendents of failing school districts were as adept at fixing schools as they are at making excuses for their poor performance, America would have the best education system in the world.

Featured Commentary

Spinning America's Report Card

by Eric Hanushek, Paul E. Petersonvia Wall Street Journal
Friday, November 8, 2013

ObamaCare isn't the only thing the Obama administration is spinning these days. In education, too, accomplishments on the ground don't match the rhetoric coming out of Washington.