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

With Betsy DeVos As Education Secretary, Parents And Teachers Can Focus On Changing Policies Closer To Home

by Michael J. Petrilli
Thursday, February 9, 2017

The major charge against Betsy DeVos—and certainly the one that the writers at “Saturday Night Live” recently ran with—was that she doesn’t know enough about “school” to be Secretary of Education. She hasn’t been a teacher, a principal, or a superintendent. 

Analysis and Commentary

Accountability To Parents Is Necessary But Not Sufficient

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Ten days ago, Jason Bedrick wrote that I was mistaken to equate school “accountability” with “top-down government regulations."

Analysis and Commentary

Here's Why Betsy DeVos Will Be A Great Education Secretary

by Michael J. Petrillivia Fox News
Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The major charge against Betsy DeVos—and certainly the one that the writers at "Saturday Night Live" recently ran with—was that she doesn’t know enough about “school” to be Secretary of Education. She hasn’t been a teacher, a principal, or a superintendent. She doesn’t know how to pick a curriculum, evaluate an instructor, or write an Individual Education Plan for students with disabilities.

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Grading on an Invisible Curve

by Michael J. Petrillivia Hoover Digest
Friday, January 27, 2017

Evidence, not habit, should guide how we develop the best schools. Why is evidence so scarce? 

How Might Trump’s School Choice Plan Work?

by Michael J. Petrilli
Thursday, January 26, 2017

The seventh annual National School Choice Week is here, and it has special resonance, and prominence, this year. That’s because President Donald Trump has made expanding school choice the centerpiece—really the only piece—of his education agenda.

Analysis and Commentary

Trump's $20 Billion School Choice Plan Likely To Leave Details To The States

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The seventh annual National School Choice Week is here, and it has special resonance, and prominence, this year. That’s because President Donald Trump has made expanding school choice the centerpiece—really the only piece—of his education agenda.

Analysis and Commentary

Are Voucher Schools Unaccountable?

by Michael J. Petrillivia EducationNext
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Betsy Devos’s confirmation hearing was quite a spectacle, what with its “gotcha” questions, grizzled answers, and endless debates about precedent and procedure. But for all of the theatrics, one useful outcome of this process is already apparent: It has surfaced an important debate about the appropriate contours of school-choice policy.

Analysis and Commentary

Federal Tax Credits For K-12 Scholarships Are Coming. Is Your State Ready?

by Michael J. Petrillivia Education Commission of the States
Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The seventh annual National School Choice Week is here, and it has special resonance, and prominence, this year. That’s because President Donald Trump has made expanding school choice the centerpiece—really the only piece—of his education agenda.

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.

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