Expertise: 

Michael J. Petrilli

Research 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 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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Analysis and Commentary

Proposed ESSA Regulations Limit States On Accountability

by Michael J. Petrillivia Education Next
Friday, May 27, 2016

As everyone knows, the Department of Education released its latest package of proposed regulations today. Among other issues, this round addresses the heart of the Every Student Succeeds Act: its accountability provisions.

Innovations That Bypass School Districts And Go Directly To Teachers And Students

by Michael J. Petrillivia Education Next
Tuesday, May 24, 2016

As regular readers know, I’m in the middle of a series of posts exploring how education reformers can work to improve learning besides pushing for policy changes. One way is to spur “disruptive innovations” that target students, parents, and/or teachers directly.

Analysis and Commentary

When Reformers Get Disruptive

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, May 18, 2016

As regular readers know, I’m in the middle of a series of posts exploring how education reformers can work to improve learning besides pushing for policy changes. One way is to spur “disruptive innovations” that target students, parents, and/or teachers directly.

Analysis and Commentary

The Full Mike Petrilli/Jay Greene Debate On Testing And School Closures

by Michael J. Petrilli, Jay P. Greenevia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The school choice tent is much bigger than it used to be. Politicians and policy wonks across the ideological spectrum have embraced the principle that parents should get to choose their children’s schools and local districts should not have a monopoly on school supply.

Analysis and Commentary

Test Score Gains Predict Long-Term Outcomes, So We Shouldn't Be Too Shy About Using Them

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Friday, May 6, 2016

Shoot, Jay, maybe I should have quit while we were ahead—or at least while we were closer to rapprochement.

Analysis and Commentary

Test Scores Don't Tell Us Everything, But They Certainly Tell Us Something About School Quality And Student Success

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Thursday, May 5, 2016

I think we’re approaching the outline of a consensus, Jay—at least regarding the most common situations in the charter quality debate. We both agree that closing low-performing schools is something to be done with great care, and with broad deference to parents. Neither of us wants “distant regulators” to pull the trigger based on test scores alone. 

Analysis and Commentary

What Reformers Can Do To Expand Charters And Choice Besides Advocating For Policy Change

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A few weeks ago, I argued that policy change is not the only path to education reform, floated five other approaches for improving educational practice, and promised to flesh them out in future posts. Here’s my attempt at the first of those five strategies, just in time for National Charter Schools Week.

Analysis and Commentary

Colorado Parents Should "Opt In" To Higher Standards

by Michael J. Petrilli, Robert Pondisciovia The Gazette
Saturday, April 30, 2016

For too many families, school policy and instructional methods are essentially a black box: Moms and dads drop off their kids each morning, pick them up each afternoon and get a "good" and a shrug when they ask what went on in class that day. Teacher meetings and report cards come a few times a year, but they don't break down the fundamentals of what kids actually learn. 

Analysis and Commentary

Montana Right To Stick With Rigorous Testing

by Michael J. Petrilli, Robert Pondisciovia Billings Gazette
Saturday, April 30, 2016

During his 1864 re-election campaign, Abraham Lincoln famously cautioned voters that “it is not best to swap horses while crossing the river.” It’s not known whether the president came up with the aphorism himself or simply popularized it, but his meaning was as clear as it was folksy: If your course of action is sound, don’t abandon it just because the waters are rising.

Analysis and Commentary

Announcing The Fordham Institute's Third Annual Wonkathon. This Year's Topic: ESSA And Parental Choice

by Michael J. Petrillivia Education Gadfly (Thomas B. Fordham Institute)
Thursday, April 28, 2016

In 2014, we hosted our first-ever Wonkathon, which was dedicated to the subject of charter school policy. Joe Siedlecki of the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation was voted the wisest, wonkiest wonk of all.

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