Expertise: 

Michael J. Petrilli

Visiting Fellow
Biography: 

Mike Petrilli is an award-winning writer and president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, one of the country’s most influential education policy think tanks. He is the author of The Diverse Schools’ Dilemma: A Parent's Guide to Socioeconomically Mixed Public Schools and coeditor of Knowledge at the Core: Don Hirsch, Core Knowledge, and the Future of the Common Core. Petrilli is also a visiting fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and executive editor of Education Next. Petrilli has published opinion pieces in the New York Times, Washington Post Bloomberg View, Slate, and Wall Street Journal and has been a guest on NBC Nightly News,, ABC World News Tonight, CNN, and Fox, as well as several National Public Radio programs, including All Things Considered, On Point, and the Diane Rehm Show. Petrilli helped create the US Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement, the Policy Innovators in Education Network, and Young Education Professionals. He lives with his family in Bethesda, Maryland.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

Betsy DeVos Will Approve Whatever Policymakers Put Forward; Make Sure It's Good For Kids

by Brandon L. Wright , Michael J. Petrillivia Alabama Media Group
Friday, August 18, 2017

After months of mixed signals, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos appears poised to do what the Every Student Succeeds Act expects of her and approve state-developed school accountability plans. "My criteria for approval is clear," she said recently. "Does the state's plan adhere to the law?" If so, she is "happy to approve it."

Analysis and Commentary

Support For Common Standards Has Rebounded

by Michael J. Petrillivia EducationNext
Thursday, August 17, 2017

The big news out of this year’s Education Next poll is the sharp decline in support for charter schools, even among Republicans, which is going to leave us wonks scratching our heads for months. But don’t miss the findings on what we used to call “standards-based reform.”

Analysis and Commentary

Charlottesville

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Monday, August 14, 2017

My memory is a little hazy, but I’m pretty sure the first time I heard the term “Nazi” was when I was nine or ten and watching the “Blues Brothers” on TV. All I remember is that the neo-Nazis were having a parade, and getting in the Blues Brothers’ way, and the whole thing was treated as farce. They were clearly a bunch of losers and idiots, not even worthy of fear. They were a punchline, the butt of a joke.

Analysis and Commentary

Let’s Fight Complacency By Recognizing Excellent Schools

by Michael J. Petrillivia EducationNext
Thursday, August 10, 2017

What if we could scale up evidence-based practices, shift the reform conversation in a more positive direction, and boost student outcomes, all at the same time?

Analysis and Commentary

Federal Education Policy: Now Deferring To States Like Minnesota

by Brandon L. Wright , Michael J. Petrillivia Star Tribune (MN)
Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Whatever plan our policymakers put forward likely will be approved. Make sure it's good for kids. 

Analysis and Commentary

The First 17 ESSA Accountability Plans Correct Many NCLB-Era Errors

by Brandon L. Wright , Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) grants states more authority over their school accountability systems than did No Child Left Behind (NCLB)—meaning that states now have a greater opportunity to design improved school ratings. In Fordham’s new report, Rating the Ratings: Analyzing the First 17 ESSA Accountability Plans, we examine whether states are making the most of the moment.

Analysis and Commentary

The Next Big Thing In Education Reform May Be Practice, Not Policy

by Michael J. Petrillivia EducationNext
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The era of hyperactive education policymaking is about to come to an end. That might be hard to believe, given this summer’s high-decibel policy disputes, both in Washington and in the states. The implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA); debates about a potential large-scale federal school-choice initiative; and deep disagreements about civil rights enforcement continue to captivate—and roil—all of us involved in education policy, in D.C. and around the nation.

Analysis and Commentary

Education Philanthropy And The Unfinished Business Of Policy Reform

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The era of hyperactive education policymaking is about to come to an end. That might be hard to believe, given this summer’s high-decibel policy disputes, both in Washington and in the states. The implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA); debates about a potential large-scale federal school-choice initiative; and deep disagreements about civil rights enforcement continue to captivate—and roil—all of us involved in education policy, in D.C. and around the nation.

Analysis and Commentary

How Should Racial Disparities In School Discipline Be Investigated?

by Michael J. Petrillivia Education Next
Thursday, June 29, 2017

The national press jumped all over the news last week that the Office for Civil Rights in the Trump Department of Education will be taking a different tack on federal civil rights enforcement than it did under the Obama Administration. As Andy Rotherham wrote, “not surprisingly, with those words—Trump, civil rights, federal—in the same sentence, people are alarmed.” And sure enough, the mainstream media published articles with alarming headlines, like “Education Dept. Says It Will Scale Back Civil Rights Investigations.”

Analysis and Commentary

What Teens Want From Their Schools

by Michael J. Petrilli, Amber M. Northernvia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Boredom. We’ve all experienced it many times. Though we tend to think of it as unpleasant but endurable and harmless tedium, some research now suggests boredom may be harmful to our health—it is potentially linked to everything from weight gain, to depression, to physical pain—even to cheating on one’s spouse!

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