Paul E. Peterson

Senior Fellow
Research Team: 
Awards and Honors:
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
National Academy of Education

Paul E. Peterson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a member of the Koret Task Force on K–12 Education, and editor in chief of Education Next: A Journal of Opinion and Research. He is also the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government and director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University. His research interests include educational policy, federalism, and urban policy. He has evaluated the effectiveness of school vouchers and other education reform initiatives.

In 2006, Peterson was appointed leader of the Florida state Education Citizen Review Group and is a member of the Department of Education’s independent review panel, which is evaluating No Child Left Behind. In 2003, he was awarded the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation Prize for Distinguished Scholarship. Among the many other honors and fellowships Peterson has received are a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a German Marshall Fund of the United States Fellowship, and a Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award from the American Political Science Association for the best book published in politics, government, or international relations. The Editorial Projects in Education Research Center reported that Peterson’s studies on school choice and vouchers were among the country’s most influential studies of education policy.

Peterson is a former director of governmental studies at the Brookings Institution and has been elected to the National Academy of Education and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

His most recent book, with Eric Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann, Endangering Prosperity: A Global View of the American School, documents the large economic costs of a stagnant K-12 education system. Other works include Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning, School Money Trials: The Legal Pursuit of Educational Adequacy; The Education Gap: Vouchers and Urban Schools; Reforming Education in Florida: A Study Prepared by the Koret Task Force on K-12 Education; Generational Change: Closing the Test Score Gap; and Choice and Competition in American Education.

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Recent Commentary

Education and testing
Featured Commentary

Public Supports Testing, Opposes Opt-Out, Opposes Federal Intervention

by Paul E. Peterson, Martin R. Westvia EducationNext
Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Testing and accountability have become a focal point of the congressional debate over the new federal education bill designed to replace No Child Left Behind (NCLB), originally scheduled to expire in 2007. The Senate and the House have each passed a bill revising the law, but disagreement persists on a key testing provision.

Featured Commentary

Diane Ravitch, Union Shops And The Education Next Poll

by Paul E. Petersonvia EducationNext
Monday, July 27, 2015

An ancient Armenian King, Tigranes the Great, when told Roman General Lucius Lucullus and his army were en route to Armenia, had the messenger beheaded. Unfortunately, that made it difficult for Tigranes to gather any further intelligence, Plutarch tells us.

Featured Commentary

Even Teachers Are No Fans Of Forced Union Payments

by Paul E. Peterson, Martin R. Westvia The Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

An ‘agency fee’ levied on those who refuse to join a union isn’t popular in schools or with the public.

Featured Commentary

States Raise Proficiency Standards In Math And Reading

by Paul E. Peterson, Gary Ackermanvia Education Next
Wednesday, May 27, 2015

In this paper we extend the five prior analyses by identifying the changes in state proficiency standards between 2011 and 2013, the last year for which the relevant information is available. We show that many states have raised their proficiency bars since 2011. Overall, 20 states strengthened their standards, while just 8 loosened them. In other words, a key objective of the CCSS consortium—the raising of state proficiency standards—has begun to happen.


Racial Controversies Are As Misleading Today As They Were When The Moynihan Report Was Written

by Paul E. Petersonvia Education Next
Wednesday, March 4, 2015

In its Spring issue, Education Next takes note of the 50th anniversary of a 1965 publication issued by the U. S. Department of Labor entitled “The Negro Family.”


Nathan Glazer On Revisiting The Moynihan Report

by Paul E. Petersonvia Education Next
Monday, March 2, 2015

Fifty years ago the U.S. Department of Labor issued a report, titled “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” that identified a surprising rate of growth in the percentage of African American children born into single-parent families.

Featured Commentary

No Child Left Behind And Testing Help Hold Schools Accountable

by Paul E. Petersonvia Los Angeles Times
Monday, February 23, 2015

The controversial education law known as No Child Left Behind is up for reauthorization, and amid the nuances under debate one question stands out: Will pressures from the left and right force the federal government to abandon its annual, statewide testing requirements?

Featured Commentary

A Rescue Plan For The Black Family

by Paul E. Petersonvia New York Daily News
Monday, January 19, 2015

Far from addressing the marriage problem, the federal government exacerbated it.

Jeb Bush

Simply By Forming an Exploratory Committee, Jeb Bush Places School Reform On The National Agenda

by Paul E. Petersonvia Education Next
Wednesday, December 17, 2014

With the announcement by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush that he is exploring a run for the presidency in 2016, school reform has suddenly leaped to the political front page.


Do Teachers Support the Vergara Decision?

by Paul E. Petersonvia Education Next
Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In June, a California court ruled, in Vergara v. State of California, that the state’s tenure and seniority laws are unconstitutional. Minority students have filed a similar case in New York, with more to come elsewhere.