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

Flexibility Can Boost Education

by Michael J. Petrilli, Brandon L. Wright via Post Bulletin
Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Minnesota needs to improve its accountability system for K–12 education. A relic of the No Child Left Behind era, it has a critical flaw: It encourages schools to narrowly focus on the progress of their lowest-performing students. That's a worthy and important objective, but it shouldn't be the only outcome schools are held responsible for.

Analysis and Commentary

Twenty Questions For Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s New Education Secretary

by Michael J. Petrillivia EducationNext
Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Reading the tea leaves of presidential appointments is always a fun spectator sport in the swamp that is Washington, DC, but more so this year, with a President-Elect whose campaign was light on policy details, and especially on education, where Donald Trump uttered hardly more than a slogan or two.

Analysis and Commentary

Petrilli And Wright: Virginia Shouldn’t Waste Its Unique Opportunity To Overhaul Its School Accountability System

by Michael J. Petrilli, Brandon L. Wright via Roanoke Times
Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Virginia needs to improve its accountability system for K–12 education. A relic of the No Child Left Behind era, it has a critical flaw: It encourages schools to narrowly focus on the progress of their lowest-performing students. That’s a worthy and important objective, but it shouldn’t be the only outcome schools are held responsible for.

Analysis and Commentary

Red States And Blue Cities: The Precarious Politics Of Charter Schooling Today

by Michael J. Petrillivia EducationNext
Tuesday, November 22, 2016

For those on the right, the Light of Donald Trump plus two-thirds of governors and state legislative chambers, Republicans all, will shine on the charter sector, ushering in an early spring of hope.

Analysis and Commentary

How States Should Redesign Their Accountability Systems Under ESSA

by David Griffith, Michael J. Petrillivia Education Next
Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Those of us at the Fordham Institute have long held that there’s no one best way to design a state accountability system. It’s not just that we can’t even agree amongst ourselves about the relative importance of measuring student growth vs. student proficiency (though that’s true). It’s also because we understand that, as with all policy endeavors, this one amounts to a series of trade-offs.

Analysis and Commentary

Now What?

by Michael J. Petrillivia Education Next
Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Like most of you I am in shock and more than a little worried. I can’t pretend to be a neutral policy analyst today; I made my deep concerns known about a Donald Trump presidency, and they haven’t gone away.

Analysis and Commentary

Op-ed: Measure Schools' Success With Both High And Low Achievers

by Michael J. Petrilli, Brandon L. Wright via Salt Lake Tribune
Saturday, November 5, 2016

Utah needs to improve its accountability system for K–12 education. A relic of the No Child Left Behind era, it has a critical flaw: It encourages schools to narrowly focus on the progress of their lowest-performing students. That's a worthy and important objective, but it shouldn't be the only outcome schools are held responsible for.

Analysis and Commentary

Rich Insights On Poverty

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Education leaders and policymakers should be just as concerned about what happens to young people after they exit their schools, I would argue, as they are about what happens to these students before they cross the dais on graduation day.

Analysis and Commentary

Elizabeth Warren, The Prisoner Of ‘Powerful Interests’

by Michael J. Petrillivia Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Massachusetts liberal rails against money in politics—so she should pay back union help.

Featured

What A Democratic Wave Election Would Mean For Education Reform

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Tuesday, October 25, 2016

If the latest polls are to be believed, Hillary Clinton may be heading toward a landslide victory, especially as far as the Electoral College is concerned. If that happens, it will likely reverberate through down-ballot races—for the Senate and House of Representatives but also for gubernatorial and state legislative offices, too. 

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