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

Go For Heaven On Seven: Leverage The Title I School Improvement Set-Aside For New School Creation

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Monday, March 20, 2017

Taken from us too soon, after a valiant fight with ‘local control.’” So tweeted Morgan Polikoff after the Obama Administration’s ESSA accountability regulations succumbed to the Congressional Review Act. The rules shouldn’t go to heaven alone, however.

Analysis and Commentary

Poor And Working-Class Americans Have Gotten Hammered. Here's How To Help Their Children Do Better.

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Thursday, March 16, 2017

Nobody knows how this year’s wild presidential campaign is going to end. But one thing’s for sure: It has exposed some fundamental rifts in American society that won’t easily be resolved.

Analysis and Commentary

A Common Core Curriculum Quandary

by Michael J. Petrillivia Education Next
Wednesday, March 8, 2017

One of the most ambitious educational improvement projects in recent years was the adoption of new, more rigorous college- and career-ready academic standards by more than 40 U.S. states. Though the Common Core label has suffered greatly from a populist backlash, the reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated.

Analysis and Commentary

Louisiana's Increased Attention To Student Growth Deserves Applause, Not Criticism

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Pop quiz! Try to solve this word problem. If students in Louisiana make more progress over time than almost any other state’s, does that mean Louisiana’s education policies are working or failing? What if I tell you that Louisiana, despite its impressive gains, still has a long way to go in terms of its students’ absolute performance? Now would you say that its policies are failing?

Analysis and Commentary

Senate Republicans: Save The Regs! (At Least Some Of Them.)

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

It doesn’t quite have the same resonance as Save the Children, or even Save the Whales, but Save the Regs is the cri de cœur in education wonk circles today. And for good reason: Congressional Republicans’ intent to repeal but not replace the Obama Administration’s accountability regulations via the Congressional Review Act is about to make ESSA implementation a whole lot more difficult than it needs to be.

Students raising their hands
Analysis and Commentary

Louisiana’s Increased Attention To Student Growth Deserves Applause, Not Criticism

by Michael J. Petrillivia The Advocate
Thursday, February 23, 2017

Pop quiz! Try to solve this word problem. If students in Louisiana make more progress over time than almost any other state’s, does that mean Louisiana’s education policies are working or failing? What if I tell you that Louisiana, despite its impressive gains, still has a long way to go in terms of its students’ absolute performance? Now would you say that its policies are failing?

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? 

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