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Hoover Daily Report items by Michael J. Petrilli

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April 1, 2014 | National Review Online

The Two Tracks of School Reform

Standards-based testing and school choice go together.
March 19, 2014 | Slate

“Kid, I’m Sorry, but You’re Just Not College Material”

It’s an article of faith in the school reform community that we should be striving to prepare all students for success in college—if not a four-year degree, then some other recognized and reputable post-secondary credential. The rationale is clear and generally compelling; as a recent Pew study reiterated, people who...
January 24, 2014 | Washington Post

How D.C. Schools Can Ward Off the ‘Big Flip’

The city has a golden opportunity to use gentrification to its advantage.
December 20, 2013 | Atlantic

I Refuse to Feel Bad About Letting my Children Watch TV

Pop culture, even "low-brow" entertainment, paves the way for appreciating the classics, and it'll help my kids connect with people who aren't just like them.
December 12, 2013 | National Review Online

President Obama’s Inequality Speech, Revised

What the president should have said, in his own words.
December 12, 2013 | Daily News (NY)

Little Learners Need Better Curriculum

Find breaking US news, local New York news coverage, sports, entertainment news, celebrity gossip, autos, videos and photos at
September 3, 2013 | Public Sector Inc.

Cities Are For Strivers

July 10, 2013 | Politico

Education Reform A Test For GOP

November 15, 2012 | Bloomberg

What We Learned About School Reform in 2012

October 28, 2012 | USA Today

Urban Middle Class Boosts School Diversity

October 11, 2012 | National Review Online

The Catholic-School Legacy

July 29, 2012 | Room for Debate (New York Times)

Can School Performance Be Measured Fairly? Don’t Rest on Laurels

March 8, 2012 | Huffington Post

Do We Need a Virtual Education Ministry?

We increasingly have good policies in place, but we don't know how to turn them into reality. And because most policies aren't self-implementing, we have to solve the problem of "delivery" if reform is going to add up to a hill of beans...
February 28, 2012 | Huffington Post

The "Teacher Effectiveness Gap" Was Just a Myth: 3 Implications

The finding -- reported by the Times this weekend -- that really good, and really bad, teachers are evenly distributed around New York City is jaw-dropping news...But assume it's true. What are the implications?...
February 22, 2012 | National Review Online

Republicans for Education Reform

Race to the Top deserves some credit, but GOP victories deserve more...
January 5, 2012 | Huffington Post

Five Thoughts About No Child Left Behind on Its 10th Anniversary

The federal law that everybody loves to hate turns ten on Sunday. Here's what to think about it...
December 16, 2011 | Washington Post

Closing the achievement gap, but at gifted students’ expense

At this very moment, millions of high-achievers are waiting to be challenged. Meeting their needs is another objective worthy of a great nation. They deserve our encouragement, not our indifference...
October 14, 2011 | Huffington Post

Accountability's End?

If the debate around the federal role in accountability is coalescing, a much bigger question remains wide open: Could we be watching the beginning of the end for the accountability movement in toto...?
July 11, 2011 | Weekly Standard

Let’s Talk Education Reform

The Republican presidential field is beginning to take shape, and candidates and maybe-candidates are figuring out where they stand and what to say. Sooner or later, they will need to say something about education. May we suggest a few talking points...?
May 27, 2011 | National Review Online

Toward Less Fed in Your Ed

The threat of a federal intrusion is real, but has little to do with a “national curriculum”...
December 1, 2010 | National Review Online

Arne Duncan Talks Tough

For about two years now, President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have been co-opting much of the GOP playbook on education...But on one key issue — spending — they have acted like traditional borrow-and-spend Democrats, only more so...
October 7, 2010 | National Review Online

Congress and Education Reform

Republicans want to eject Uncle Sam from education; Democrats want to micromanage everything from Washington. What we need is Reform Realism...
September 23, 2010 | Education Gadfly

Would a Republican Congress be good for school reform?

We hope that a Republican takeover might lead to a productive policy environment, with the GOP even teaming up with the Administration to promote the “tight-loose” framework. But that’s no sure thing...
July 22, 2010 | National Review Online

The Common Core Curriculum

National education standards that even conservatives can love...
April 20, 2010 | Education Next

Bye-Bye Blackboards

Interactive and expensive, whiteboards come to the classroom...

December 13, 2009 | Wall Street Journal

Whole Foods Republicans

The GOP needs to enlist voters who embrace a progressive lifestyle but not progressive politics. . . .

August 27, 2009 | New York Times

Smart Child Left Behind

AS American children head back to school, the parents of the most academically gifted students may feel a new optimism: according to a recent study, the federal No Child Left Behind law is acting like a miracle drug...

June 25, 2009 | Green Bay Press-Gazette

State testing system must change

According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, a whopping 81 percent of students are now “proficient” in reading and another 77 percent are proficient in math...

March 11, 2009 | Education Week

Stimulating a Race to the Top

Public education stands to receive some $100 billion from the enormous economic-stimulus package enacted last month by Congress, about one-eighth of the total...

February 26, 2009 | National Review

Obama Gives Failing Schools a Pass

President Obama’s address to Congress is earning plaudits for its honesty, candor, and can-do/will-do/must-do spirit...

January 29, 2009 | Forbes

Will The Recession Kill School Reform?

Few doubt that we're living through profound changes on many fronts...

September 24, 2008 | National Review Online

Fire Alarm

Back-to-school time, soaring fuel prices, and a wobbly economy are all upon us, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the papers are brimming with sad stories about schools getting slammed by skyrocketing costs and slumping tax revenues...

September 18, 2008 | National Review Online

From the Lehman Board to the Board of Ed

How refreshing to watch Wall Street reintroduced to “market discipline” this weekend, and how depressing to see “moral hazard” return by Tuesday night...

September 8, 2008 | National Review Online

USA: We’re Number 20!

With the 2008 Summer Olympic Games receding in our memories, there’s still consternation in some parts about the fact that China bested the United States in the gold-medal count...

June 19, 2008 | National Review Online

No Child Gets Ahead

In his seminal 1961 book, Excellence, John W. Gardner posed the question, “can we be equal and excellent too?”...

April 17, 2008 | National Review Online

Catholic-School Rescue

Pope Benedict XVI was still in the air over the Atlantic when he addressed the dominant concern on the mind of many Catholics — and certainly the mainstream media: the clergy sex-abuse scandal...

February 11, 2008 | National Review Online

A Place for Huck?

Now that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has suspended his campaign, Senator John McCain’s nomination as the GOP’s presidential candidate is all but certain...

January 11, 2008 | National Review Online

Teachers Divided

Senator Barack Obama sees a post-partisan future for America, but that doesn’t mean all divisions will disappear...

December 13, 2007 | National Review Online

Why Teachers Like Mike

Mike Huckabee made news — and history — Tuesday when the New Hampshire affiliate of the National Education Association endorsed him for president in the upcoming primary — the first time it ever recommended a GOP candidate...

November 29, 2007 | National Review Online

Parties Like It’s 1999

Senator Barack Obama unveiled his education plan last week, and used the opportunity to promote his presidential campaign theme of bringing people together...

October 20, 2007 | Washington Times

National testing: It's time

A decade ago, when President Bill Clinton's "voluntary national test" proposal was crashing on the rocky shores of a Republican-controlled Congress, scholar Chester E. Finn, Jr. quipped that national testing was doomed because conservatives hate "national" and liberals hate "testing..."

September 14, 2007 | National Review Online

The Suburban Schools Relief Act of 2007

The political strategy of George Miller and Buck McKeon, respectively the chairman and top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, has now come into full relief: to get an NCLB reauthorization bill through Congress by appeasing the suburbs...

August 3, 2007 | National Review Online

Principal Obama

Two weeks ago I escaped from Washington’s oppressive humidity and headed with my in-laws to New Hampshire’s Lake Sunapee...

June 28, 2007 | National Review Online

Eradicating White Guilt

Today’s Supreme Court decision striking down Louisville’s and Seattle’s race-based student assignment plans will surely lead to much gnashing of teeth, recriminations, and accusations of America slipping back to the era of Jim Crow...

April 19, 2007 | National Review Online

Hooked on Hysterics

If you enjoy political theater of the absurd, tune in to a House Education and Labor committee hearing Friday on “Mismanagement and Conflicts of Interest in the Reading First Program..."

October 4, 2006 | National Review Online

Conservatism’s Big Test

In the past few weeks, conservative luminaries including Bill Bennett, Tommy Thompson, and Rod Paige have publicly endorsed national testing for K-12 education, giving some libertarians a fit. Consider Cato’s Neal McCluskey, for instance, who not only attacked national standards in his recent National Review Online piece but went after the entire education-reform strategy that rests on standards and testing...

September 29, 2006 | National Review Online

Reading Last

The brouhaha over the federal Reading First program illustrates everything that’s wrong with government today — not the alleged improprieties, but a twisted government culture that prioritizes “proper procedures” over actual results and that looks for scapegoats and fall-guys when the going gets tough...

September 26, 2006 | National Review Online

Urban Tragedy

During the past few years, scores of impoverished inner-city schools have shuttered their doors...

June 27, 2006 | National Review Online

The Narrowing of the American Curriculum

History, science, and the arts are being de-emphasized by most schools in order to make room for teaching basic reading and math skills, according to a recent study …


February 28, 2014 | Education Next

Common Core in the Districts: An Early Look at Early Implementers

Wherever one stands on the merits of the Common Core, one thing is certain: all of the political posturing and mudslinging distract attention and energy from the crucial work of implementation.
February 24, 2014 | Education Next

The Imperfect “ObamaCore” Analogy

There are vast differences between ObamaCare and the Common Core when it comes to federal involvement.
February 18, 2014 | Education Next

The Common Core Sanity Check of the Day: Estimation Is Not a Fuzzy Math Skill

Those who criticize the Common Core standards for asking kids to estimate the answer to a math problem get a few things wrong.
February 11, 2014 | Education Next

Lies, Damned Lies, and the Common Core

If you want to understand why supporters of the Common Core are frustrated—OK, exasperated—by some of our opponents’ seemingly unlimited willingness to engage in dishonest debate, consider this latest episode.
January 27, 2014 | Education Next

Knowledge at the Core

For thirty years, Don Hirsch has tried to persuade policymakers to undertake perhaps the one reform we’ve never tried: the widespread adoption of a coherent, sequential, content-rich curriculum. What might change the outcome over the next thirty years?
January 8, 2014 | Education Next

Can’t Buy Me Love

The so-called War on Poverty has been fantastically successful at eradicating poverty among the old and devastatingly miserable at eradicating poverty among the young.
January 2, 2014 | Education Next

2014: The Year of Universal Proficiency

No, we did not achieve universal proficiency by 2014. But that doesn’t mean that students haven’t benefited from the law and its associated reforms.
December 20, 2013 | Education Next

Coming Soon: ‘Car-Key Kids’

What autonomous automobiles will mean for adolescence
December 16, 2013 | Education Next

Little Learners Need Better Curriculum

Any gains provided by a massive new investment in preschool will quickly fade away if Mayor de Blasio doesn’t also tackle New York City’s mediocre elementary schools.
December 3, 2013 | Education Next

PISA and Occam’s Razor

What’s a better hypothesis for the lackluster math performance of our fifteen-year-olds? Maybe we’re just not very good at teaching math, especially in high school.
November 22, 2013 | Education Next

Right-Sizing the Classroom

Schools can boost achievement by giving the most effective teachers larger classes than the least effective teachers.
November 20, 2013 | Education Next

Petrilli Testimony on Common Core in Ohio

This testimony was presented in Ohio by Mike Petrilli, executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, on November 20, 2013.
October 24, 2013 | Education Next

What Obamacare, ‘Supplemental Services,’ and Teacher Evaluations Have in Common

It brings me no pleasure to predict that the project to create rigorous teacher evaluations by fiat is likely to fail.
October 17, 2013 | Education Next

Rain of Errors

In her new book, Diane Ravitch commits the exact same errors for which she lambastes reformers. She oversells the evidence; she fails to consider likely unintended consequences; she doesn’t think through implementation challenges.
October 7, 2013 | Education Next

Has the Left Lost Faith in Upward Mobility?

Rather than accept a future of low-skill, low-wage work for our impoverished young people, education reformers aspire to build their "human capital"--their knowledge, skills, capabilities, talents, habits, character--so that the labor market will one day repay their contributions to society with a wage that far exceeds any minimums.
September 30, 2013 | Education Next

Self-Sufficient Citizens: Public Education’s Job No. 1

Is there anything schools can to do to encourage their students to follow the "success sequence"?
September 3, 2013 | Corner (National Review Online)

If You Send Your Kid to a Failing School, You are a Bad Person

A manifesto in response to Allison Benedikt: You are a bad person if you send your children to a failing school (unless you have no choice). Not bad like murderer bad — but bad like sacrificing-your-child’s-future-while-not-actually-doing-anyone-else-any-good bad. So, pretty bad. I am an education-policy wonk; I’m also judgmental. It seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to the best possible school available, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Some children might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good. So, how would this work exactly? It’s simple! Everyone needs to put pressure on our public schools in order for them to get better. Not just lip-service pressure, or I-might-pull-my-kid-out pressure, but real flesh-and-blood-offspring pressure. Your local school stinks but you send your child there anyway? Then its badness is just something you object to in the abstract. Your local school stinks and you send your child elsewhere? If enough parents act like you then you are doing everything within your power to make it better. And parents have a lot of power. In many under-resourced school districts, it’s the mass exodus of parents that has finally forced officials to make necessary changes. Everyone out. (By the way: Banning neighborhood schools isn’t the answer. We need a moral adjustment, not a legislative one.) There are a lot of reasons why bad people send their kids to failing schools. Yes, some do it out of laziness or out of loyalty to a longstanding family tradition. Others literally have no choice, as they cannot afford private schools and because teachers’ unions have blocked all other routes of escape. I believe in public education! you might say. I understand. You want the best for your community, but if you can tell your public school is crappy then you’re not doing anybody any good by propping it up with your child’s attendance (and tax dollars). You might believe that yours is the exact kind of family that can help your crappy public school become less crappy. This is naïve. Your child will not learn as much or be as challenged as she could be. Don’t let anyone tell you to “live with that.” Especially if she is gifted. The world needs her to fulfill her whole potential. I went K–12 to excellent public schools. My high school offered numerous AP classes, and over four years, I read many excellent books. I even played soccer. This is not bragging! I left home well prepared for college, and thanks to that preparation, I left college after learning a lot there too. I’m not saying that my precise educational route is the right one for everyone. But I am grateful that I attended good schools, and want that for everyone. By the way: My parents didn’t send me to these great schools because they believed in public ed. They couldn’t have afforded private schools very easily, so they chose to live where we lived based on the schools. Take two things from this on your quest to become a better person: 1) Your child will probably do just fine without “the best,” but 2) “the best” you can afford is surely what you should aim for. Also remember that there’s more to education than what’s taught. As wonderful as my school’s English, history, science, social studies, math, art, music, and language programs were, going to school with poor kids and rich kids, black kids and brown kids, smart kids and not-so-smart ones, kids with superconservative Christian parents and other upper-middle-class Catholics like me was its own education and life preparation. (I went to school in suburban St. Louis in the 1980s, home to the nation’s largest desegregation program, so my school enjoyed a certain amount of racial and socio-economic diversity that other affluent suburban schools did not.) But remember that there’s more to education than what’s taught. If your local public school doesn’t uphold the values you teach at home, that’s a big problem. Many of my (morally bankrupt) friends send their children to failing public schools. I asked them to tell me why. Here is the response that most stuck with me: “We wanted to live in the city, and these are the schools that are available to us, and that we can afford. And attending school with poor children will be a special experience for our kids.” I get it: You want to keep enjoying nightlife and a short commute and you think your kids will do fine. You like your school’s diversity, hate the suburbs, and figure you can provide whatever enrichment your son or daughter needs at home. Maybe your involvement will make the school a little better. Maybe your child’s large vocabulary will rub off on his or her peers. You know who else wants to believe those things? Scores of social scientists, a deluge of do-gooders, but here’s the thing: Whatever you think your children need—deserve—from their school experience, don’t assume that the parents at the nearby public-housing complex want the same. You want something warm-and-fuzzy and uber-progressive? They want something back-to-basics and akin to a Catholic education. You want more art and music and time for exploration and free play? They want a focus on reading and math and extended time for the fundamentals. If you send your kids to school with their kids, you are likely to use your energy, power, and money fighting to change your school in ways that you prefer but that might actually do less-advantaged children material harm. You might find yourself taking resources away from what they need most — a content-rich curriculum, a strong focus on reading and math, a firm approach to discipline — and hurting their life chances in the process. Don’t just acknowledge your inner consumer — listen to it. Pick the best fit for your child. Let other parents do the same. Everyone will be the better for it. — Michael J. Petrilli is author of The Diverse Schools Dilemma: A Parent’s Guide to Socioeconomically Mixed Public Schools, and research fellow at the Hoover Institution.
August 16, 2013 | Education Next

The Problem with Proficiency

Proficiency rates are terrible measures of school effectiveness.
August 9, 2013 | Education Next

Why the ‘Opt-Out’ is Not a Cop-Out

August 6, 2013 | Education Next

Common Core’s Best-Kept Secret

The Common Core era signals a return of history, civics, literature, science, and the fine arts to the elementary school curriculum.
August 2, 2013 | Education Next

The Tony Bennett Flap: School Grades, Stakes, and Signals

What matters most is how reformers react to the bright spotlight now on school-grading systems.
July 24, 2013 | Education Next

Paternalism and Public Policy

The most paternalist policies in place today require the closure of underperforming schools even if they are popular with parents. Who should decide if the tradeoffs are worth it? A case to be made, but I still don’t quite buy it.
July 23, 2013 | Flypaper

Paternalism and Public Policy

July 12, 2013 | Education Next

Summer School for Republicans

June 19, 2013 | Education Next

The Big Squeeze

June 7, 2013 | Education Next

Poor Children Need a Hand Up, Not Hospice

May 17, 2013 | Education Next

Am I A Part of the Cure … or the Disease?

May 6, 2013 | Education Next

The Open-Source School District

April 23, 2013 | Education Next

Why Don’t Schools Embrace Good Ideas?

April 23, 2013 | Education Next

Why Don’t Schools Embrace Good Ideas?

April 19, 2013 | Education Next

Proud to Be a Private Public School Parent

February 15, 2013 | Corner (National Review Online)

Fact-Checking the President on the Minimum Wage and Poverty

February 12, 2013 | Corner (National Review Online)

Pre-School Talk

January 29, 2013 | Education Next

The Seattle MAP Flap

January 25, 2013 | Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)

The Obama Administration Invents a Right to Wheelchair Basketball

January 22, 2013 | Education Next

Indiana and the Common Core

November 7, 2012 | Education Next

A Not-So-Great Night for Education Reform

November 6, 2012 | Education Next

Education Reform on the Ballot

November 2, 2012 | Education Next

Let a New Teacher-Union Debate Begin

October 11, 2012 | Education Next

The Catholic School Generation

October 5, 2012 | Education Next

What's Next on the School Reform Agenda

September 14, 2012 | Education Next

What the Chicago Strike is Really About

September 12, 2012 | Education Next

Conflict is Unavoidable

September 11, 2012 | New York Times

Not All Issues Can Be Worked Out Amicably

August 23, 2012 | Education Next

The 30 Top Education Policy Tweeters, 2012

August 7, 2012 | Education Next

In Praise of PBS Kids

July 10, 2012 | Education Next

Can Schools Spur Social Mobility?

June 24, 2012 | Education Next

Arne Scorns Iowa: Political Courage or Political Suicide?

...Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has rejected a request from Iowa for flexibility under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. What political courage! What political suicide!...
June 21, 2012 | Education Next

GAO and George Miller Don’t Understand How Special Education Works

Yesterday’s “exquisitely timed” GAO report has set off an avalanche of accusations at charter schools for “discriminating” against students with disabilities...
June 20, 2012 | Education Next

Eli Broad, Conservative Hero?

While some gentle teasing about his non-inconsiderable ego might be in order, Eli Broad deserves something more—namely, a full measure of respect and gratitude...
May 24, 2012 | Education Next

The Romney Education Plan

Replacing Federal Overreach on Accountability with Federal Overreach on School Choice...
May 10, 2012 | Education Next

Common Core Critics Want ALEC to Tell States What to Do

A clique of conservative groups is pushing the message that tomorrow’s ALEC vote is part of a “growing movement” against federal intrusion vis-à-vis the Common Core standards. There’s a problem with that line of reasoning...
May 8, 2012 | Education Next

A States’ Rights Insurrection Led by…California?

Three cheers for California’s governor, state superintendent, and state board chair, for applying for a waiver from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (aka No Child Left Behind) that doesn’t kowtow to Washington...
April 30, 2012 | Education Next

Have Increased Graduation Rates Artificially Depressed America’s 12th-Grade Performance?

One of the great mysteries of modern-day school reform is why we’re seeing such strong progress (in math at least, especially among our lowest-performing students) at the elementary and middle school levels, but not in high school...
April 20, 2012 | Education Next

Stretching the School-District Dollar

Despite some signs of economic recovery, school districts nationwide continue to struggle mightily...
April 10, 2012 | Education Next

We Don’t Judge Teachers By Numbers Alone; The Same Should Go For Schools

When it comes to evaluating teachers, there’s wide agreement that we need to look at student achievement results—but not exclusively...So why do we assume, when it comes to evaluating schools, that we must look at numbers alone?...
April 4, 2012 | Education Next

Is the Media Biased in Favor of Reform? It Depends on the Reform

Paul Farhi of the Washington Post created a stir this weekend with an American Journalism Review article ripping mainstream education reporting for being uncritical of school reform...And Farhi’s not wrong...
March 16, 2012 | Education Next

George Miller and the Do-Gooder Caucus—A Top 10 List

Two weeks ago, when the House Education and the Workforce committee marked-up two major ESEA reauthorization bills, Democrats and their allies screamed bloody murder...
January 27, 2012 | Education Next

Washington Insiders Favor ESEA Flexibility in Theory but Not in Reality

Everybody in Washington claims they favor more flexibility in federal education policy...
January 12, 2012 | Education Next

ESEA Reauthorization: Everyone’s cards are on the table. Now let’s make a deal.

Democrats across and beyond the nation’s capital—in the Administration, on Capitol Hill, in advocacy groups, and in think tanks—are up in arms about the ESEA reauthorization proposals released by House GOP leaders on Friday...
December 15, 2011 | Education Next

Texas Hit the Accountability Plateau, Then the Rest of the Country Followed

Like the meteor that led to the decline of the dinosaurs and the rise of the mammals, results-based accountability appears to have shocked the education system. But its effect seems to be fading now...
December 14, 2011 | Education Next

In Praise of Performance Pay—for Online Learning Companies

Personally, I’d like to see performance-based pay for all schools. That won’t fly anytime soon, but performance-pay for online learning (at the least the full-time, virtual charter school version) could. Which state is ready to give it a try...?
December 9, 2011 | Education Next

The Obama Administration’s War on Stuyvesant and Thomas Jefferson

Last week, the Departments of Education and Justice released new guidance for school districts and institutions of higher education on constitutionally-sound ways to encourage racial diversity and avoid racial isolation...
December 6, 2011 | Corner (National Review Online)

Don’t Blame D.C.’s Woes on School Choice

Rebuilding strong neighborhood schools is certainly part of the solution to the problem...But replicating high-performing charter schools, and expanding the city’s private-school-scholarship program, could help too...
December 2, 2011 | Education Next

Too Many Cooks, Too Many Kitchens

Despite America’s romantic attachment to “local control of public education,” the reality is that the way it works today offers a worst-of-both-worlds scenario...
November 23, 2011 | Education Next

The Future of Educational Accountability, As Envisioned by 11 Leading States

So what do these 11 states want to do differently on the accountability front? Particularly when it comes to identifying schools that should be subject to some sort of sanctions or interventions...?
November 14, 2011 | Education Next

Dealing with Disingenuous Teachers Unions: There Are No Shortcuts

If we want to win the fight for the more immediate future, we’re going to need to take on the unions directly, and take over the school boards. Shall we get started...?
November 4, 2011 | Home Front (National Review Online)

We Have a Parenting Problem, Not a Poverty Problem

It strikes me as highly unlikely that we’re ever going to significantly narrow the achievement gap between rich and poor unless we narrow the “good parenting gap” between rich and poor families, too...
November 1, 2011 | Education Next

A is for Accountability*; What’s at stake in the ESEA debate**

Liberal reformers and prominent editorial pages are raging mad about the Harkin-Enzi bill’s supposedly weak approach to accountability in its ESEA update...
October 22, 2011 | Education Next

It Sure Wasn’t Pretty, but Harkin-Enzi’s Out of Committee

The Senate HELP committee voted Thursday night to send the Harkin-Enzi ESEA bill to the floor. It passed 15-7, with support from all of the Democrats and three Republicans. Now, let the analysis begin! Here are five thoughts...
October 2, 2011 | Room for Debate (New York Times)

Unrealized Potential

Over the past two decades, “tracking” as traditionally practiced has been virtually eliminated from the vast majority of America’s schools — with the exception of mathematics at the middle and high school levels...
September 28, 2011 | Education Next

ObamaFlex: Too much tight, too light on loose

ObamaFlex is in need of improvement. Some additional vetting–via the Congressional process perhaps?–might make it ready for primetime. Too bad the Administration took that option off the table...
September 6, 2011 | Education Next

When public education’s two Ps disagree

It’s long been said that public education must achieve both public and private aims. The public, which foots the bill, has an interest in a well-educated populace. Parents—schools’ primary clients—want a strong foundation for their own children...
August 29, 2011 | Education Next

NY Regents: Stop the madness!

[Their] newfangled evaluation system is going to be miles more rigorous than what virtually all your districts have today, regardless of whether one-fifth or two-fifths of the ratings comes down to test scores...
August 26, 2011 | Education Next

One Size Fits Most

If you step back from day to day vitriol that characterizes the current education-policy “debate,” and glimpse the larger picture, two worldviews on education reform emerge...
August 23, 2011 | Education Next

The Name Game

It’s silly season again, and I’m not referring to the Republican primaries. No, I’m thinking about the all-out battle for proponents and opponents of “reform” to stick a nasty label on the other side and claim the mantle of truth and goodness for themselves...
August 11, 2011 | Education Next

The Lesson from Education Reform Idol: Elections Matter

While they haven’t been twiddling their thumbs , legislators didn’t get religion on reform until now. How come? The answer is obvious: The 2010 elections, which gave Indiana Republicans control of the House and a super-majority in the Senate...
August 8, 2011 | Education Next

If You Support Common Core, Oppose Arne Duncan

Arnius Duncanus is at it again. Unmoved by pleas that he “first do no harm” when it comes to promising reforms like the Common Core State Standards Initiative, he seems compelled to attach mandates to his forthcoming NCLB waivers that will require adoption of the Common Core standards...
August 4, 2011 | Education Next

There’s Good News, and then There’s Really Good News

How about all of us—reformers and skeptics alike—agree to make the most of the good news that falls in our lap every now and then? Poor kids in Florida and a few other states are making HUGE gains. Let’s figure out why...
August 2, 2011 | Education Next

What Ed Sector Gets Wrong

Education Sector is one of my favorite groups in K-12 policy...Which is why I can’t understand why the organization continues to be so wrong about one of the most consequential developments in education today...
July 20, 2011 | Education Next

Our Schools’ Secret Success

Here’s a new problem facing American education policy: Something we’re doing seems to be working...
July 18, 2011 | Education Next

The Myth of the “Good” School

...[D]ifferent parents define “quality education” differently. One person’s “good school” is another person’s “bad fit”...
July 11, 2011 | Education Next

Advice for Chairman Kline on “Flexibility”: Call Democrats’ Bluff

House education chairman John Kline released a bill last week that would provide “unprecedented” flexibility for states and local school districts around how they spend their federal education dollars...
June 23, 2011 | Education Next

Charter School Pensions: The Sum of Teacher Unions’ Fears

As if the teachers unions need another reason to hate charter schools, here’s one: The finding, from a new Fordham Institute report, that when given a chance to opt out of state pension systems, many charter schools take it...
June 10, 2011 | Education Next

Charter Start-ups Are Four Times as Likely to Succeed as District Turnarounds* (Note Big Asterisk)

This raises serious questions about the wisdom of the federal government pumping $3 billion into school turnaround efforts...
May 27, 2011 | Education Next

Toward Less Fed in Your Ed

For the last couple of years—ever since the nation’s governors and state superintendents started working on common academic standards in reading and math—conservative education analysts have engaged in a spirited but polite debate about the wisdom of this development...
May 24, 2011 | Room for Debate (New York Times)

How to Reform Compensation

Raising the “status” of teaching is like chasing a mirage: It looks great from a distance but it never seems to materialize...
May 9, 2011 | Education Next

Margaret Spellings vs. Mitch Daniels: Ms. Hubris vs. Mr. Humble

At first blush, it would appear that former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels have a lot in common...
April 4, 2011 | Education Next

Why the GOP Budget Plan Might Be Good for Education

...[B]efore you reflexively deride this week’s GOP budget proposal consider this: It just might pave the way for greater investments in our schools...
March 31, 2011 | Education Next

What Would Al Shanker Do?

I strongly encourage you to read Richard Kahlenberg‘s brilliant 2007 biography of Albert Shanker, Tough Liberal...What struck me most about the book was the status of the teaching profession before Shanker and his colleagues won the right to collectively bargain in 1960...
March 29, 2011 | Education Next

The Obama Administration’s Shameful Opposition to the DC Scholarship Program

Here’s the “Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 471 – Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act...” A few quick thoughts...
March 27, 2011 | Room for Debate (New York Times)

How to Raise the Status of Teachers: Restructure Compensation

The current budget crisis could pave the way for a restructured teacher compensation system along these lines once the money returns...
March 25, 2011 | Education Next

Getting Back on Track

One of the dirtiest words in American education today is “tracking...
March 23, 2011 | Education Next

Why the Charter School Idea Has Stood the Test of Time

Ever since their creation two decades ago, charter schools have been defined by three fundamental—if somewhat contradictory—ideas: accountability for results, school-level autonomy, and meaningful parental choice...
March 17, 2011 | Education Next

Losing Their Bargaining Rights Won’t Send Teachers to the Poorhouse

Teachers in non-collective bargaining districts actually earn more than their union-protected peers–$64,500 on average versus $57,500...
March 15, 2011 | Education Next

U.S. Performance on PISA: The Rest of the Story

Today, in advance of this week’s International Summit on the Teaching Profession, Fordham is releasing a little paper by Janie Scull and me, American Achievement in International Perspective...
March 10, 2011 | Education Next

The Case for Paying Most Teachers the Same

...[W]hat makes the single schedule so pernicious isn’t just its uniformity; it’s its growth curve...
February 14, 2011 | Education Next

Obama’s Education Budget: It’s About the 2012 Election, Not About the Kids

If Obama is sincere about making “crucial investments” in education, he would call for another education stimulus...Instead, he’s just playing presidential politics. What a shame...
January 28, 2011 | Education Next

A New “Washington Consensus” is Born

This week has witnessed the emergence of a new Washington Consensus, apparent in President Obama’s education-obsessed State of the Union address, a bipartisan conference call with key Senate leaders, and a supportive column by the country’s most widely read conservative...
January 11, 2011 | Education Next

How States Can Stretch the School Dollar

The challenge for education policymakers is not only to cut carefully so as not to harm student learning, but better yet, to transform these fiscal woes into reform opportunities: to cut smart and thereby help our schools and students emerge stronger than ever...
January 11, 2011 | Education Next

Stretch Yourself, Bruce Baker

Rutgers education professor Bruce Baker issued a 4,600 word rebuttal to a 4,000 word policy brief...(It was about how states can “stretch the school dollar.”)...But for all his spilled ink, he fails to offer a single alternative to the budget cuts we recommend...
December 16, 2010 | Education Next

Washington Micro-Managers, There You Go Again

It’s not a pretty picture to watch, particularly as the supposedly reform-friendly Obama Administration sells its soul in order to keep its beloved Race to the Top program alive...
December 15, 2010 | Education Next

Even Under the Best of Circumstances, Turnarounds Fail

...[E]ven low-performing charter schools, which have all the right incentives to improve, and few of the constraints that might get in the way, rarely manage to do so...
November 12, 2010 | Education Next

Want to see ESEA Updated in 2011? Try this Approach

With the votes finally counted almost everywhere, the fancies of education policy wonks turn to ESEA/NCLB, long overdue for reauthorization—and the subject of many aches, pains, and kvetches...
November 10, 2010 | Corner (National Review Online)

A Fond Farewell to Joel Klein

Joel Klein deserves a ton of credit for what he accomplished in New York City. The Big Apple has been the epicenter of education reform for almost a decade now, thanks to him...
November 5, 2010 | Education Next

Disturbing Trend: Reformers as Compliance Police

So there you have it: results-based reform (charter schools) clashing with process-based reform (improved teacher evaluations). Which is it going to be...?
November 5, 2010 | Education Next

Welcome to a New Era of Restraint

What do Tuesday’s election results portend for education? After much palaver in many quarters, I conclude that it’s pretty simple: less money, and less reform from Washington...
November 2, 2010 | Education Next

“Less Money, Less Reform” Goes to Washington

Everyone wants to know what a Republican-controlled House of Representatives will mean for ESEA reauthorization. Here’s my take: it will mean less money, and less reform. And on the whole, that will be a good thing...
November 1, 2010 | Education Next

Less Money, Less Reform?

I’ll admit it: while she’s not perfect, I’m still a huge fan of Michelle Rhee...So it’s not surprising that I found her Wall Street Journal “manifesto” (co-signed with her former boss, Adrian Fenty) to be worthy of several cheers and hurrahs...
October 13, 2010 | Corner (National Review Online)

Rhee-ality Check

It’s no surprise that Michelle Rhee is stepping down as chancellor of D.C.’s public schools...But that doesn’t make the outcome any less unsettling for D.C., and especially for its most vulnerable children...
September 29, 2010 | Education Next


I felt this way even before this week’s surprise ruling by the (oft-overturned) Ninth Circuit. The court invalidated a Bush Administration-era regulation that allowed Teach For America participants (and other alt cert teachers) to be considered “highly qualified” while they worked toward full state certification...
September 29, 2010 | Education Next

Done “Waiting for ‘Superman’”? Send Your Kid to a Diverse Public School

[W]hat if you really want to make a direct impact on the system, and especially on the education of low-income kids? There’s one obvious step you can take: choose a diverse public school for your own children...
September 21, 2010 | Education Next

“Cracking the Code,” or Ed Reformers on Crack?

My friends in the education reform community are feeling triumphant, now that Waiting for Superman is about to hit the theaters with its “to the barricades” message. Count me as worried...
September 15, 2010 | Education Next

DC Election: The Charter Schools–and the Bike Lanes–will Remain

It’s understandable that education reformers will go out of their way to argue that Michelle Rhee’s reforms weren’t determinative in Adrian Fenty’s mayoral re-election bid...But let’s face it: the toughest of tough-minded reforms just aren’t all that popular with the public...
September 2, 2010 | Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)

Finally, some straight talk on the achievement gap

Summers past have brought us front-page firestorms and inane back-to-school stories. But this August might one day be famous for marking the start of a fresh round of honest conversation about the achievement gap—and the relationship between race, poverty and our schools...
August 24, 2010 | Corner (National Review Online)

A ‘Race to the Top’ Flop

The Obama administration prides itself on having the courage to stand up to the teachers’ unions — a pride that’s sometimes warranted. But not today...
August 11, 2010 | Education Next

The Public Thinks That Poor Kids Make for Bad Schools

We all know that when someone says they are moving to a neighborhood with “good schools,” that really means “schools without too many poor kids.” Not that choosing to send your son or daughter to a school with lots of disadvantaged children is an easy decision...
August 9, 2010 | Education Next

The Problem with “School Boards are the Problem”

For two weeks now I’ve been meaning to write about this provocative Washington Post column by Montgomery County (MD) school board member Laura Berthiaume...The truth is that her Op-Ed challenges some of my basic assumptions about school boards, in particular that they are one of the big problems in education...
August 6, 2010 | Education Next

I3 Is “New American Schools” All Over Again

Alexander Russo nailed it this morning* when he wrote that “old school reforms win big in i3.” Indeed...
July 28, 2010 | Education Next

Will We Ever Get Past Race and Class?

For the better part of a week, Washington has been consumed by the Shirley Sherrod pseudo-scandal, leading many pundits to ponder race relations in America circa 2010...
June 24, 2010 | Education Next

Is the Learning Disabilities Epidemic Waning?

Almost a decade ago, Fordham and the Progressive Policy Institute published a phone book-sized treatise, Rethinking Special Education for a New Century...
June 9, 2010 | Education Next

Answering Jay Greene’s Questions about National Standards

Jay Greene is upset that nobody has addressed his concerns about the Common Core State Standards initiative...

April 28, 2010 | Education Next

The Half-Broken Promise of Charter School Autonomy

[H]ow are policymakers and charter school authorizers doing on that score...

April 23, 2010 | Education Next

What Goes Up Must Come Down

Districts are facing real spending cuts for the first time in decades. And once we get past the current challenges, our schools will be facing stiff competition for public funds from the retirement expenses of the baby boomers...

April 14, 2010 | Education Next

Tenure Reform, not Choice, is the Holy Grail

Many of us who support school choice do so because of our hope that competition will force recalcitrant districts and unions to reform. The theory of action goes something like this...

January 20, 2010 | Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)

Great Scott

Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts last night jolted the political world, and may spell the end for President Obama’s health care legislation. . . .

September 1, 2009 | Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)

High achieving kids need options, too

On Friday, Tom Loveless and I published an op-ed in the New York Times that argued that our nation’s highest-achieving students are only making minimal gains in the era of NCLB, while low-achieving students have made huge strides since 2000...


March 24, 2014 | John Batchelor Show

Michael Petrilli on the John Batchelor Show (31:34)

Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents. David Grinspoon, Library of Congress. Michael J. Petri, Hoover.
March 22, 2014 | KTRS Radio (St. Louis)

Michael Petrilli on America Weekend

March 20, 2014 | Lars Larson Show

Michael Petrilli on the Lars Larson Show

March 19, 2014 | Gil Gross Program (KKSF)

Michael Petrilli on the Gil Gross Show

Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, speaks with Gil about why we should not push all students to go to college.
March 11, 2014 | WFAE Radio (NC)

Michael Petrilli on Charlotte Talks (1:23)

Common Core state standards have been adopted by 45 states across the US, including North Carolina. But there are many—both on the right and the left—who
March 5, 2014 | NBC Nightly News

Michael Petrilli on Nightly News (2:08)

The College Board has announced the first major changes to the SAT in nine years, hoping to level the playing field among those taking the exam. - NBC News
January 28, 2014 | Marketplace

Michael Petrilli on PRI's Marketplace

New York teachers have come out swinging against the Common Core. What's next for the controversial curriculum standards?
January 15, 2014 | Alabama Public Television

Bill Evers and Michael Petrilli on Engage

Pam Huff moderates a discussion on the controversial Common Core curriculum standards focusing on how Common Core will impact students. Watch online: Engage - Common Core from Alabama Public Television Specials. On demand, streaming video from APT - Alabama Public Television
December 24, 2013 | Southern California’s Public Radio

Michael Petrilli on Take Two

December 5, 2013 | WABE 90.1

Michael Petrilli on WABE Radio

Georgia is scheduled to adopt new tests for students in grades 3-12 next year to assess the Common Core education standards. However, officials are on a
October 15, 2013 | KPCC 89.3 (Southern California)

Mike Petrilli on AirTalk with Larry Mantle

Advanced placement classes are no longer just nice to have on your high school transcript they are a must have for competitive college applications. In an effort to give more students an opportunity many schools are getting rid of some of the barriers to getting into AP classes. Some critics say it will dilute the standard and content of AP classes.Others say that it gives students who would otherwise not be encouraged a chance to take part in the advanced classes.
October 7, 2013 | MSNBC

Michael Petrilli on The Daily Rundown (1:56)

Video on MSNBC's Craig Melvin takes a closer look at the common core education standards. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who is among a group of mayors working on education reform, then joins The Daily Rundown to discuss those standards.
June 18, 2013 | Rod Arquette Show (KNRS)

Michael Petrilli on the Rod Arquette Show (64:55)

February 27, 2013 | Talk of the Nation (NPR)

Michael Petrilli on Talk of The Nation (2:30)

February 4, 2013 | Kojo Nnamdi Show (WAMU)

Michael Petrilli on the Kojo Nnamdi Show (16:41)

September 14, 2012 | Kudlow Report (CNBC)

Day 3 of Chicago Teachers' Strike

June 12, 2012 | Minnesota Public Radio

New Common Core standards changing U.S. education

How will the Common Core State Standards Initiative change education as we know it? What can we expect going forward? And why is Minnesota one of only five states not adopting the measures?...
May 24, 2012 | Wall Street Journal TV

Romney's Reform School

Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Fordham Institute, on Mitt Romney's education reform proposals...
February 23, 2012 | Wall Street Journal TV

Money for Nothing?

Michael Petrilli of the Fordham Institute on states that received Race to the Top money but haven't implemented education reforms...
February 9, 2012 | All Things Considered (NPR)

States Hope For Relief With 'No Child' Waivers

Six months ago, President Obama directed his secretary of education to give waivers to states seeking much-needed relief from the federal education mandates prescribed under No Child Left Behind. On Thursday, they granted them to ten...
February 9, 2012 | NBC Nightly News

10 states freed from ‘No Child Left Behind’

The new No Child Left Behind waiver may give schools the freedom they need to teach and measure students’ progress. NBC’s Rehema Ellis reports...
October 4, 2011 | Bud Hedinger Show (WFLA)

Michael Petrilli on the Bud Hedinger Show

October 4, 2011 | Morning Show (KCMO)

America In Jeopardy

September 28, 2011 | Varney and Co. (Fox Business)

U.S. Education Policy Doesn’t Support Smartest Children

Mike Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute breaks down the shortfalls of the education system and “No Child Left Behind"...
September 21, 2011 | Jim Bohannon Show

Michael Petrilli on the Jim Bohannon Show

A new study has been released by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute entitled "Do High Flyers Maintain Their Altitude? Performance Trends of Top Students"...We'll discuss the study with the executive vice president of the Fordham Institute, Mike Petrilli...
August 11, 2011 | Opinion Journal (Wall Street Journal)

Waiving Away No Child Left Behind

Fordham Institute education analyst Michael Petrilli on the White House's plan to waive No Child Left Behind provisions for states that adopt their preferred policies...
August 10, 2011 | All Things Considered (NPR)

Teachers Feeling 'Beat Down' As School Year Starts

As students prepare to begin another school year, their teachers are hopping mad. They're facing layoffs and deep budget cuts and many say they're tired of being blamed unfairly for just about everything that's wrong in public education...
August 2, 2011 | Education Next

Ed Next Book Club: Terry Moe’s Special Interest

Mike Petrilli talks with Moe about the book, the union’s rise to power, their influence on all facets of our education system, and whether changes within Democratic Party politics—and the emergence of online learning—create existential threats to these organizations...
January 31, 2011 | Patt Morrison (KPCC)

“No Child Left Behind” Left Behind—for the more flexible “Every Child Counts”?

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Obama said we need to replace No Child Left Behind with a law that’s “more flexible and focused on what’s best for our kids..."
August 2, 2010 | Maine Public Broadcasting Network

New Learning Standards in the Works for Maine Students

Maine education officials today start the process of changing state guidelines on what students should know about math and English by a certain grade level...
July 24, 2010 | ABC News

Battle Over N.C. Busing Heats Up

North Carolina School Board Voted to Stop Busing Students From Lower Income Neighborhoods to Wealthier Ones and Vice Versa...
July 20, 2010 | Education Next

When the Teacher Contract is Not the Problem

Emily Cohen talks with Education Next about state policies governing teacher quality that trump teacher contracts...
July 6, 2010 | Education Next

Tough Love for Charter Schools

Chester Finn and Terry Ryan describe the efforts of the Fordham Institute to rescue struggling charter schools in Ohio while serving as a charter authorizer...
December 15, 2009 | Air America

Ron Reagan Show: Whole Foods Republicans

Ron Reagan talks with Mike Petrilli about what the Republicans need to do to get younger. . . .

Other Media

February 1, 2011 | Education Next

Pyrrhic Victories?

The following essay is part of a forum, written in honor of Education Next’s 10th anniversary, in which the editors assessed the school reform movement’s victories and challenges to see just how successful reform efforts have been...
January 13, 2011 | Education Next

Lights, Camera, Action!

Using video recordings to evaluate teachers...Teachers may scream about infringements on their “professionalism,” but effective teachers will have little to fear...
October 19, 2010 | Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Now What? Imperatives and Options for Common Core Implementation and Governance

This Fordham Institute publication—co-authored by President Chester E. Finn Jr. and VP Michael J. Petrilli—pushes folks to think about what comes next in the journey to common education standards and tests...
February 19, 2010 | Thomas B. Fordham Foundation

America’s Private Public Schools

At the heart of our abiding commitment to the idea of public education is Horace Mann’s ideal of the “common school”: a place whose doors are open to everybody, and where all children, regardless of social class or race or ethnic heritage, can come to learn and play and grow up together. . . .

July 31, 2009 | Corner (National Review Online)

Where Are We Investing Our Education Dollars?

The teachers unions are learning that even their friends within the Democratic party won't defend the indefensible, such as protecting bad instructors from losing their jobs...

July 14, 2009 | Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)

A suggestion for Michelle Rhee: Leave hyperbole behind

Brand-new test score results for the District of Columbia Public Schools show big gains...

June 30, 2009 | Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)

What does the “firefighter case” mean for teacher testing?

A month ago, I wondered what Sonia Sotomayor might think about teacher tests, as the more rigorous ones typically have a “disparate impact” on minorities; African-American and Hispanic candidates fail them at much higher rates than whites do...

June 18, 2009 | Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)

End of schoolyear blow-out!

This week has provided a nice natural experiment about which kinds of studies the media finds newsworthy...

June 10, 2009 | Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)

Duncan talks the talk but can he walk the walk?

I finally watched Charlie Wilson’s War last night (we have a toddler at home; we’re not in the movie-theater stage of our life!)...

June 2, 2009 | Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)


New York state’s test scores in math were released yesterday, and not surprisingly they were up, up, up...

May 10, 2009 | Washington Post

Topic A: Obama's Compromise on D.C.'s School Vouchers Program

The Post asked education and political experts to assess the president's plan for D.C. students...

December 18, 2008 | Thomas B. Fordham Foundation

An open letter to president-elect Obama, secretary-designate Duncan and the 111th Congress

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute appraises the current policy landscape and its main players, and outlines the ideal federal role in K-12 education...

December 15, 2008 | Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)

It’s Arne!

Sometimes the conventional wisdom is right...

December 16, 2008 | Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)

Five thoughts about Arne Duncan

He’s widely (and fairly) seen as the “consensus candidate,” bridging the divides between two camps within the Democratic Party (the reformers and the establishment)...

December 4, 2008 | Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)

Diane Ravitch to Lou Gerstner: Stop lecturing and start listening

The former IBM CEO gets no support for his proposal to eliminate the nation’s 15,000 school boards from Fordham trustee Diane Ravitch in this piece...

July 9, 2008 | Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)

Good study, bad spin

That’s my take on the new Marcus Winters/Jay Greene/Julie Trivitt study on the impact of high-stakes testing on low-stakes subjects in Florida...