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

Analysis and Commentary

Heroism And Humility In Education Reform

by Michael J. Petrillivia EducationNext
Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Achilles’ heel of the West, I read not long ago, is that many people struggle to find spiritual meaning in our secular, affluent society. How can we compete with the messianic messages streaming from the Islamic State and other purveyors of dystopian religious fundamentalism?

Analysis and Commentary

On Payday Lending And Parental Choice

by Michael J. Petrillivia RedefinED
Thursday, November 19, 2015

If every school in America was pretty good — if not better — our education policy debates would largely evaporate.


Michael Petrilli: The Fandom Edition

by Michael J. Petrillivia Education Gadfly (Thomas B. Fordham Institute)
Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hoover Institution fellow Michael Petrilli discusses doing good, ESEA's final stretch, Baltimore's high-achievers, and students' reactions to news of their AP potential.

Analysis and Commentary

The New ESEA, In A Single Table

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, November 18, 2015

As first reported by Alyson Klein at Education Week’s Politics K–12 blog, Capitol Hill staff reached an agreement last week on the much-belated reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Analysis and Commentary

Is America’s Poverty Rate Exceptional? It Depends On How You Define Poverty

by Michael J. Petrilli, Brandon L. Wright via EducationNext
Tuesday, November 17, 2015

As a general rule, when scholars call your work “garbage” and “nonsensical,” either you’ve struck a nerve or made a horrible blunder.

Analysis and Commentary

Proper Testing Brings Needed Dose Of Reality To Education

by Michael J. Petrilli, Robert Pondisciovia Albuquerque Journal
Monday, November 16, 2015

Five long years ago, New Mexico and more than 40 other states adopted tough new standards in reading and math, setting dramatically higher expectations for students in elementary and secondary schools.

Analysis and Commentary

The Left Seems To Define Poverty Up To Make America Look Worse Than It Is

by Michael J. Petrilli, Brandon L. Wright via National Review
Monday, November 16, 2015

As a general rule, when scholars call your work “garbage” and “nonsensical,” either you’ve struck a nerve or made a horrible blunder.

Analysis and Commentary

Fordham's Mike Petrilli And Checker Finn On The ESEA Compromise

by Michael J. Petrilli, Chester E. Finn Jr.via Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Friday, November 13, 2015

As the contours of an ESEA deal become clear, the country has much to celebrate.


District And Charter Schools Communicate More Than Before, But True Collaboration Is Limited

by Amber M. Northern, Michael J. Petrillivia EducationNext
Friday, November 13, 2015

Across the nation, charter schools continue to expand. Over the past five years, their enrollment has grown by 70 percent, so that approximately 2.7 million youngsters now attend these schools of choice—over 5 percent of the total number enrolled in public schools.

Analysis and Commentary

Reformers’ Push To Improve Education Is Worthy Of Celebration — But Is There A Dark Side, Too?

by Michael J. Petrillivia The Hechinger Report
Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Changing the good vs evil mindset of the education reform debate.