Expertise: 

Michael J. Petrilli

Visiting 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 visiting 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

The Kids Who Had Been “Left Behind” Are Doing Much Better Today Than 25 Years Ago. But What About Everyone Else?

by Michael J. Petrillivia Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Student outcomes rose significantly for the lowest-performing students and students of color from the late-1990s until the Great Recession—especially in reading and math, but in other academic subjects, too. There’s also been big recent improvement in the high school graduation rate for these groups.

Interviews

Michael Petrilli: Should All Students Be Prepared For Both College And Career?

interview with Michael J. Petrillivia The Education Gadfly Show Podcast
Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Michael Petrilli discusses whether we should change the conjunction in “college and career readiness” to “or.”

Interviews

Michael Petrilli: Is It Time To Reform Discipline Reform?

interview with Michael J. Petrillivia The Education Gadfly Show Podcast
Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Michael Petrilli discusses school discipline reform in America, and the new Fordham study of educators’ views on the issue.

Analysis and Commentary

Teachers Get Real About Discipline Reform

by Amber M. Northern, Michael J. Petrillivia Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Last December, a headline in Chalkbeat announced the end of a contentious two-year debate among school discipline reformers and other ed-policy aficionados: “It’s official: DeVos has axed Obama discipline guidelines meant to reduce suspensions of students of color.”

Classroom students
Analysis and Commentary

Education Policy Helped These States Beat The Socioeconomic Curve

by Michael J. Petrillivia EducationNext
Thursday, July 25, 2019

Earlier this summer, I presented a hypothesis: that the rapidly improving economic conditions for the country’s poorest families during the 1990s may have been responsible for much of the progress in student achievement we saw in the 2000s. As you can glimpse in the figure below, it appears that significant economic downturns, and upticks, were followed by similar movements on the National Assessment of Educational Progress—about seven years later for fourth grade scores and thirteen years later for eighth grade.

Interviews

Michael Petrilli: What Rural Americans Think About Charter Schools

interview with Michael J. Petrillivia The Education Gadfly Show
Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Michael Petrilli discusses how information affects attitudes toward charter schools in rural America.

Analysis and Commentary

A Rising Economic Tide + Reform + Resources = Better Results

by Michael J. Petrilli quoting Eric Hanushek, Margaret (Macke) Raymondvia Education Next
Monday, July 22, 2019

Recently, I argued that much of the progress of the No Child Left Behind era may have stemmed from the dramatically declining child poverty rates of the 1990s. But much does not mean all. Other things were happening back then, too, things that deserve at least some of the credit—namely more education reform and more education resources. Let’s look at the evidence for both.

Analysis and Commentary

A Rising Economic Tide + Reform + Resources = Better Results For Kids

by Michael J. Petrillivia Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Last week I argued that much of the progress of the NCLB era may have stemmed from the dramatically declining child poverty rates of the 1990s.

Featured

One Small Step For Man, One Giant Leap For Our Schools?

by Chester E. Finn Jr., Michael J. Petrillivia The Education Gadfly Show Podcast
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Hoover Institution fellows Checker Finn and Michael Petrilli discuss how the moon landing relates to American education.
Analysis and Commentary

Perhaps Progress Against Poverty Helped Test Scores Rise

by Michael J. Petrillivia Education Next
Wednesday, July 17, 2019

This is the fourth in a series of posts looking at whether the nation’s schools have improved over the past quarter-century or so—what might be considered the modern “reform era” of American education. The first two posts demonstrated that student outcomes rose significantly from the mid-1990s until the Great Recession —especially in reading and math, but in other academic subjects, too. 

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