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


What’s Next On ESEA?

by Michael J. Petrillivia Education Next
Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tell me if you disagree, my fellow wonks and pundits, but I don’t think anyone predicted a 22-0 vote from the Senate HELP committee on ESEA reauthorization. What an amazing tribute to the bipartisan leadership of Chairman Lamar Alexander and ranking member Patty Murray.


Patty Murray And The Return Of Wishful Thinking

by Michael J. Petrillivia Education Next
Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Everyone is right to laud the impressive work of Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander and ranking member Patty Murray in producing a strong bipartisan bill to update the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).


Alexander-Murray: This Is What Compromise Looks Like, In A Single Table

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Monday, April 13, 2015

I’m back from a week’s vacation and pleased to find that ESEA reauthorization is still (if just barely) alive. The release of a compromise bill from Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander and ranking member Patty Murray gives me an excuse to bring back my beloved color-coded ESEA table.


College Preparedness Over The Years, According To NAEP

by Michael J. Petrilli, Chester E. Finn Jr.via Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, April 8, 2015

For almost a decade, the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress, studied whether and how NAEP could “plausibly estimate” the percentage of U.S. students who “possess the knowledge, skills, and abilities in reading and mathematics that would make them academically prepared for college.”


Not Meeting Standards: A Warning Light, Not A Death Sentence

by Michael J. Petrillivia Education Next
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Last week, I complained that Eva Moskowitz and other reformers weren’t being fair when they described schools as “persistently failing” because they didn’t get many of their students to the ambitious levels built into the Common Core.


Eva et al. Flunk The Fairness Test

by Michael J. Petrillivia Education Next
Thursday, March 19, 2015

In the pre-Common Core era, we had a big problem. Most state tests measured minimal competency in reading and math. But we failed to communicate that to parents, so they reasonably thought a passing grade meant their child was pretty much where they needed to be.

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Featured Commentary

Take Back Our Schools

by Michael J. Petrillivia National Review
Thursday, March 12, 2015
The Student Success Act would end ‘big-government conservatism’ in education

How To End The Education Reform Wars

by Michael J. Petrillivia Education Next
Wednesday, March 11, 2015

On Sunday, Mike spoke to the New York State Council of School Superintendents. These were his remarks as prepared for delivery.


What Schools Can Do To Address America's Marriage Crisis, Part II

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Last week, I argued that single parenthood is a major impediment to upward mobility for low-income youth, especially when parenthood starts in one’s teens or early twenties.


Marriage As A Springboard To The Middle Class

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Friday, February 27, 2015

Regular followers of Fordham know that, over the past few years, I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about “education for upward mobility,” starting with a series of posts on Deborah Meier’s Bridging Differences blog and culminating in last December’s conference on the subject. Now I’ve got a new essay in Education Next, “How Can Schools Address America’s Marriage Crisis?