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


‘No-Racially-Disparate-Discipline’ Policies Opposed By Both Teachers And General Public

by Paul E. Petersonquoting Richard A. Epsteinvia EducationNext
Monday, August 31, 2015

In 2014 the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice, acting together, sent every school district a letter asking local officials to avoid racial bias when suspending or expelling students.

Analysis and Commentary

Why Do Two Good Polls Get Different Results?

by Paul E. Peterson, Martin R. Westvia EducationNext
Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Two major public opinion polls have just been released. First, Education Next (EdNext) released its ninth annual survey of over 4,083 respondents, which is administered by Knowledge Networks. (Along with Michael Henderson, we are responsible for the design and analysis of this survey.)


Federal Meddling In School Discipline

by Paul E. Petersonquoting Richard A. Epsteinvia National Review
Monday, August 24, 2015

The feds have not convinced parents, teachers, or the general public.


Common Core: How Much Do People Know About Its Real Impact?

by Paul E. Petersonvia EducationNext
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Earlier this week, my colleagues and I reported, as part of the 2015 Education Next survey of public opinion, that the level of support for the Common Core had slipped over the past two years from about two thirds to about half of the public. Yet opponents still number only about a third of the public, with the rest offering no opinion one way or the other.


Teachers And Schools Are Funded At A Higher Rate Than Most People Know

by Paul E. Petersonvia Washington Times
Thursday, August 13, 2015

In its 2016 budget, the Obama administration has proposed a new billion-dollar federal program, Teaching for Tomorrow, which requests an additional $1 billion in federal funding for services to children from low-income families. It also calls for more money for English language acquisition programs, civil rights enforcement, and special education services.

Education and testing
Analysis and 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.

Analysis and 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.

Analysis and 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.

Analysis and 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.

Analysis and Commentary

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.”