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

Rich Insights On Poverty

by Michael J. Petrillivia Education Next
Monday, September 26, 2016

Low-income Baltimore youth claw their way to success.

Analysis and Commentary

"Why Do I Have To Explain My Answer?" Advice For Parents In The Age Of Common Core

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

As regular readers of this blog know, I’ve been a long-time, energetic, enthusiastic defender of the Common Core standards. That’s because those of us at the Fordham Institute believe these academic standards to be much stronger, in a variety of ways, than what preceded them in most states.

Analysis and Commentary

Common Confusion

by Michael J. Petrillivia Education Next
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Most kids in America aren’t on track for success. Why don’t they and their parents know it?

Analysis and Commentary

To Improve Education, Focus On Excellence—Not Failure

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, September 14, 2016

School failure is no longer the United States’ most pressing educational problem—mediocrity is. Both Trump and Clinton could do a lot of good by changing the tone of the education reform debate—and backing it up with a few discrete changes in policy. 

Analysis and Commentary

N.Y. Needs To Help Kids Aim Still Higher

by Michael J. Petrilli, Brandon L. Wright via New York Daily News
Thursday, September 8, 2016

Education has been mostly missing in action in this bizarre election year, yet the quality of our schools will in large part determine whether New York — and the United States as a whole — have the bright future that we all want.

Analysis and Commentary

Can Evidence Improve America's Schools?

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, September 7, 2016

It is not reasonable to expect research to resolve all issues or to erase all differences of opinion. We can but supply some information that we think reliable, and we will continue in the future to supply more. But it is up to the American people to decide what to do. The better their information, the wiser will be their decisions.

Analysis and Commentary

To Improve Education, Focus On Excellence — Not Failure

by Michael J. Petrillivia The Washington Post
Tuesday, September 6, 2016

School failure is no longer the United States’ most pressing educational problem — mediocrity is. Both Trump and Clinton could do a lot of good by changing the tone of the education reform debate — and backing it up with a few discrete changes in policy. Specifically, they could shift the conversation from “failure” and focus it instead on “excellence.”

Analysis and Commentary

High Stakes For High Achievers

by Michael J. Petrilli, David Griffith, Brandon L. Wright , Audrey Kim, Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Gadfly (Thomas B. Fordham Institute)
Wednesday, August 31, 2016

State accountability in the age of ESSA.

Analysis and Commentary

The High Flyer Takes Off

by Michael J. Petrilli, M. René Islasvia Education Gadfly (Thomas B. Fordham Institute)
Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A robust communications channel for gifted education has taken flight. Designed to illuminate conversations on gifted and talented children and mobilize support for them to reach their potential, The High Flyer is a unique collaboration between the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

Analysis and Commentary

The Child Poverty Rate Plummeted After Welfare Reform. What That Means for Education

by Michael J. Petrillivia The 74 Million
Monday, August 29, 2016

A new analysis from the Manhattan Institute’s Scott Winship shows that, measured correctly, the U.S. child poverty rate declined from 13.1 percent in 1996 to 7.8 percent in 2014—a drop of almost two fifths.

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