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

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Whose Standards?

by Michael Henderson, Paul E. Peterson, Martin R. Westvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Parents of schoolchildren certainly support standardized tests; the Common Core, not so much. Highlights of the latest Education Next poll.

Analysis and Commentary

Public School Teachers More Likely To Use Private Schools For Their Own Kids

by Paul E. Peterson, Samuel Barrowsvia Education Next
Monday, January 11, 2016

The Supreme Court, in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA), is now considering whether all teachers should be required to pay union determined “agency fees” for collective bargaining services, whether or not the teacher wants them. 


James S. Coleman: Education’s North Star

by Paul E. Petersonvia Education Next
Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A star has at least five points. So I was told by a senior colleague at a time in my life when I was desperately trying to figure out how to burnish just one. Even by that standard, James S. Coleman is securely situated in a celestial constellation, as five points can be discerned even if one looks only at his research on schools.

Analysis and Commentary

Why Do German Students Learn More, When Their Schools Get Less Money?

by Paul E. Petersonvia EducationNext
Monday, November 9, 2015

Education analysts often compare U.S. schools to those in Finland, Korea, Poland, even Shanghai. Surprisingly, the nation of Germany rarely appears in this discourse, even though it has much in common with the United States.

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Analysis and Commentary

Republicans And Democrats Disagree On The Relative Importance Of Reading, Math, And The Arts

by Paul E. Petersonvia Education Next
Friday, September 4, 2015
Americans have generally wanted much the same things taught in their public schools. Elementary students should learn three “R’s”—reading,’riting and ‘rithmetic. In high school, it’s time to prepare for college or a career by studying core subjects, such as English, history, algebra, biology, and a foreign language.

Does The Partisan Divide Include The K-12 Curriculum?

by Paul E. Petersonvia Education Week
Friday, September 4, 2015

Americans have generally wanted much the same things taught in their public schools. Elementary students should learn three “R’s”—reading,’riting and ‘rithmetic.


‘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.