Michael J. Petrilli

Research Fellow

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 research 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

Can Policymakers Fix What Ails Online Charter Schools?

by Dara Zeehandelaar, Michael J. Petrillivia Education Next
Monday, August 8, 2016

A major development of recent years has been the explosive growth of online learning in K–12 education. Sometimes it takes the form of “blended learning,” with students receiving a mix of online and face-to-face instruction. 

Analysis and Commentary

Two Tweaks For ESSA Accountability Rule

by Michael J. Petrillivia EducationNext
Thursday, August 4, 2016

This post reproduces a letter sent to Secretary of Education John King on July 29.

Analysis and Commentary

Can Strong Leaders Succeed When Their Hands Are Tied?

by Michael J. Petrillivia EducationNext
Monday, August 1, 2016

As readers may recall, I’m in the middle of a series of posts about ways we can improve our schools beyond changing public policy. If this is only mildly familiar, it might be because of the hiatus since my last contribution, which is due to my procrastinating.

Analysis and Commentary

Two Changes To The Department Of Education's ESSA Implementation Rule

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Monday, August 1, 2016

This post reproduces a letter sent to Secretary of Education John King on July 29.

Analysis and Commentary

Petrilli: When Only Some Kids Can Afford Summer Camp — Why We Must Close The 'Enrichment Gap'

by Michael J. Petrillivia The 74 Million
Monday, July 18, 2016

Late July might be famous for potato chips and trips to the beach. But it’s also, arguably, the time when America’s inequality, like the hot summer sun, is at its zenith, particularly for our children. 

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From Working Class to Middle Class

by Michael J. Petrillivia Hoover Digest
Monday, July 11, 2016

In enabling the children of the poor to escape low-skill, low-wage work, schools really matter.

Analysis and Commentary

College Readiness Versus College Completion: Variations By Race

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Helping lots more young Americans get “to and through” four-year college degrees is a major goal of public policy and philanthropy. In 2009, President Obama set the target of leading the world in college completion by 2020. 

Analysis and Commentary

Forum: Discipline Practices In America's Charter Schools

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Friday, July 1, 2016

At the National Charter Schools Conference last week, Secretary of Education John King challenged U.S. charter operators to rethink their approach to discipline and “lead the way on professional reflection and growth.” 

Analysis and Commentary

What Teachers Really Think Of Common Core Math: Lessons From A New Fordham Study

by Amber M. Northern, Michael J. Petrillivia Education Gadfly (Thomas B. Fordham Institute)
Wednesday, June 29, 2016

In 2010, when the final Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were unveiled, our content experts found them worthy of praise, awarding the math standards an A-minus and the English language arts standards a B-plus. That meant that CCSS was “clearly superior” to the standards in the vast majority of states—and that the vast majority of American children would be better off if their schools taught them the content and skills they set forth.

Analysis and Commentary

A Scholarly Approach To School Accountability

by Michael J. Petrilli, Brandon L. Wright via EducationNext
Thursday, June 23, 2016

Though it sometimes appears that Education Secretary John King didn’t get the memo, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) represents a significant devolution of authority from the federal government to the states.