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

Vouchers Have Changed. Maybe Your Position Should Change, Too.

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The one-week delay in Betsy DeVos’s confirmation hearing gives all of us extra time to speculate about her position on this or that wrinkle in federal education policy, and for the politicos to practice their attacks and counter-attacks. All in all, it’s quite a spectacle.

Analysis and Commentary

Don't Leave High-Achieving Poor, Minority Students Behind

by Michael J. Petrilli, Brandon L. Wright via The Northwest Indiana Times
Friday, January 6, 2017

Indiana needs to improve its accountability system for K–12 education. A relic of the No Child Left Behind era, it has a critical flaw, encouraging schools to narrowly focus on the progress of their lowest-performing students.

Analysis and Commentary

2017: The Year We Could Come Back Together Again

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Last month, I explained why 2016 was “The Year We Came Apart”—both the nation, and the education reform movement. Now, rejuvenated by the holiday break, let me suggest that 2017 can be the year we come back together again.

Analysis and Commentary

Boost Achievers At R.I. High Schools

by Michael J. Petrilli, Brandon L. Wright via Providence Journal
Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Rhode Island policymakers should act immediately to overhaul the state's high school accountability system. A relic of the No Child Left Behind era, it has a critical flaw: It created strong incentives for schools to focus all their energy on helping low-performing students get over a modest "proficiency" bar while ignoring the educational needs of high achievers, who were likely to pass state reading and math tests regardless of what happened in the classroom.

Analysis and Commentary

New Federal Law Gives State Chance To Improve School Accountability

by Michael J. Petrilli, Brandon L. Wright via Charlotte Observer
Saturday, December 24, 2016

North Carolina needs to improve its high school accountability system. A relic of the No Child Left Behind era, it has a critical flaw: It encourages schools to focus on their lowest-performing students’ progress. That’s a worthy and important objective, but it shouldn’t be the only outcome for which they’re held responsible.

Analysis and Commentary

2016: The Year We Came Apart

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Thursday, December 22, 2016

It’s become a cliché to say “good riddance to 2016,” what with its nasty presidential campaign, tragic world events, and general ill feelings of strife and conflict, here and abroad. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Father Time!

Analysis and Commentary

Undue Process: Why Bad Teachers Rarely Get Fired

by Dara Zeehandelaar, Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Monday, December 12, 2016

The research on “what matters” when it comes to a child’s academic success has been clear for decades: more than anything else that a school can control, the classroom teacher matters most.

Analysis and Commentary

Reformers And School Choice: Not A Split But A Spectrum

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Ever since our president-elect nominated school choice champion Betsy DeVos to be education secretary, there’s been a vigorous debate amongst us education nerds about the proper way to think about school choice. It’s a civil war! Another divide in the reform movement!

Analysis and Commentary

Flexibility Can Boost Education

by Michael J. Petrilli, Brandon L. Wright via Post Bulletin
Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Minnesota needs to improve its accountability system for K–12 education. A relic of the No Child Left Behind era, it has a critical flaw: It encourages schools to narrowly focus on the progress of their lowest-performing students. That's a worthy and important objective, but it shouldn't be the only outcome schools are held responsible for.

Analysis and Commentary

Twenty Questions For Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s New Education Secretary

by Michael J. Petrillivia EducationNext
Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Reading the tea leaves of presidential appointments is always a fun spectator sport in the swamp that is Washington, DC, but more so this year, with a President-Elect whose campaign was light on policy details, and especially on education, where Donald Trump uttered hardly more than a slogan or two.

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