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

Illinois’ School Accountability Plan Needs Work

by Michael J. Petrilli, Brandon L. Wright via The State Journal-Register
Thursday, April 27, 2017

Illinois’ plan to hold schools accountable for student outcomes does some things right, and is a significant improvement on the state’s previous framework, but it doesn’t do enough to meet the educational needs of high achievers — especially those growing up in poverty.

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Use Your Words—And Your Ideas

by Michael J. Petrillivia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 24, 2017

Arguments over education have divided America. Here’s how reformers can swap acrimony for action.

Analysis and Commentary

Is A Charter School Likely To Fail? Look At The Application.

by Amber M. Northern, Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Some charter schools do far better than others at educating their students, a reality that has profound implications for charter-goers, and for the charter sector writ large. Painful experience also shows that rebooting or closing a low-performing school is a drawn-out and excruciating process that often backfires or simply doesn’t happen. 

Analysis and Commentary

3 Ways That States Can Improve Low-Performing Schools Under The Every Student Succeeds Act

by Michael J. Petrilli, Ethan Grayvia The 74 Million
Sunday, April 16, 2017

As education reform advocates know, the Every Student Succeeds Act got rid of the School Improvement Grants program and replaced it with a requirement that states spend 7 percent of their Title I allotment (about $25 million annually for a typical state) on efforts to “serve schools implementing comprehensive support and improvement activities or targeted support and improvement activities.” Behind that jargon is a rare opportunity to help millions of kids.

Analysis and Commentary

Schools Should Tell Parents Whether Their Middle Schoolers Are On Track For College

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Today’s conventional wisdom says that kids are too stressed out by the burdens we parents are placing on them, and we need to help them relax. Maybe that’s true for the tiny sliver of students who attend hothouse high schools in the bubbles where many of us happen to live. But for America at large, it’s exactly the wrong advice. 

Analysis and Commentary

How To Improve D.C.’s Flawed School Accountability Plan

by Michael J. Petrilli, Brandon L. Wright via The Washington Post
Thursday, April 6, 2017

D.C.’s recently approved plan to hold schools accountable for strong student outcomes fails to meet the educational needs of high achievers — especially those growing up in poverty.

Analysis and Commentary

How To Improve New Jersey’s Flawed School Accountability Plan

by Michael J. Petrilli, Brandon L. Wright via Trentonian
Monday, April 3, 2017

New Jersey’s proposed plan to hold schools accountable for strong student outcomes fails to meet the educational needs of high achievers—especially those growing up in poverty.

Analysis and Commentary

Madame Secretary, May I Offer You A Screwdriver?

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Friday, March 31, 2017

Secretary DeVos can be explained and forgiven—especially in these wee early days of her tenure—for bringing many of her public statements back to the theme of school choice. After all, that was President Trump’s one big education idea on the campaign trail, and the public-policy cause to which DeVos has dedicated her life.

Why A Trump School Choice Initiative Is Unlikely To Succeed

by Michael J. Petrilli
Thursday, March 30, 2017

For months now, the buzz inside the beltway swamp has been that President Trump intends to propose a huge tax-credit scholarship program as part of his tax reform initiative. That expectation has led to lively debates, both on the page and on the stage, and earlier this month was the focus of Fordham’s annual Wonkathon.

Analysis and Commentary

The Three Miracles Required For Donald Trump To Become The Patron Saint Of School Choice

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, March 29, 2017

For months now, the buzz inside the beltway swamp has been that President Trump intends to propose a huge tax-credit scholarship program as part of his tax reform initiative. That expectation has led to lively debates, both on the page and on the stage, and earlier this month was the focus of Fordham’s annual Wonkathon.

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