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

Fewer Children Left Behind: Lessons From The Dramatic Achievement Gains Of The 1990s And 2000s

by Michael J. Petrillivia Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Earlier this year, speaking in front of the Education Writers Association, Secretary Betsy DeVos said that decades of reform efforts and increased social spending, both inside and outside of schools, “hasn’t ultimately improved anything for any students, particularly not for the most vulnerable students.” It’s a standard refrain from DeVos, and many other reformers as well, when making the case that past efforts have failed and it’s time to try something different. Even my friend Rick Hess, after acknowledging big gains in math achievement, has argued that “a fair assessment” of the past two decades of reform “would admit that there has been a lot of action, but not much in the way of demonstrated improvement.”

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Better Students and Better Jobs

by Amber M. Northern, Michael J. Petrillivia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, October 9, 2019

A new survey shows that the jobs for which students are training simply aren’t the jobs employers want to fill. How to fix this mismatch.

Interviews

Michael Petrilli: Everything We Know About Effective Teachers

interview with Michael J. Petrillivia Education Gadfly (Thomas B. Fordham Institute)
Wednesday, October 9, 2019
Hoover Institution fellow Michael Petrilli talks about rigorous research and what it says about identifying, developing, and retaining effective teachers.
Interviews

Michael Petrilli: The Education Gadfly Show: Charter Schools Lift All Boats

interview with Michael J. Petrillivia Education Gadfly (Thomas B. Fordham Institute)
Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Michael Petrilli discusses a new Fordham study concerning how the charter market share affects student achievement for kids in both charter and district schools.

Analysis and Commentary

Here’s More Evidence That Expanding Charter Schools In Big Cities Helps All Kids Of Color, Even Those Who Stay In District Schools. Are Critics Willing To Rethink Their Opposition?

by Michael J. Petrilli, Amber M. Northernvia Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Those of us at Fordham have strived over the course of our organization’s two-decade existence to stay open to new evidence and to be willing to change our minds. For example, we shifted from the notion of "letting a thousand flowers bloom" when it came to charter schools to acknowledging that "some weeding is necessary" after multiple studies showed just how poor the achievement of some charters was turning out to be, and just how hard it was to actually shut such failing charter schools down. And there have been other smaller shifts over the years, too, on funding, teacher diversity, and more.

Interviews

2019 Excellence Education Innovation Lab - Mike Petrilli Discusses Grade Inflation

interview with Michael J. Petrillivia BEST NC
Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Michael Petrilli discusses grade inflation.

Interviews

Michael Petrilli: The Meaning Of Success Academy’s Success

interview with Michael J. Petrillivia Education Gadfly (Thomas B. Fordham Institute)
Wednesday, September 25, 2019
Hoover Institution fellow Michael Petrilli and David Griffith talk with Robert Pondiscio about his new book on Success Academy.
Analysis and Commentary

A New Era Of Accountability In Education Has Barely Just Begun

by Michael J. Petrillivia Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Wednesday, September 25, 2019

As we approach the fourth birthday of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), much angst remains around testing and accountability in education. ESSA released some steam from the boiling pot of education politics by turning a number of key decisions over to states and reducing the stakes associated with “high stakes testing.” But those politics still simmer. That’s partly because American children continue to spend lots of time taking standardized tests; because of growing interest in aspects of schools’ mission that go beyond academics, especially social and emotional learning; and because of questions around whether testing and accountability systems are actually helping to make our schools better.

Interviews

Michael Petrilli: The Education Gadfly Show: All About AP

with Michael J. Petrilli, Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Gadfly (Thomas B. Fordham Institute)
Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Michael Petrilli talks with Hoover Institution fellow Checker Finn and Andrew Scanlan about their new book on the past, present, and future of Advanced Placement.

Analysis and Commentary

How Two Personalized Learning Models Accelerate The Progress Of Their High-Achieving Students

by Michael J. Petrillivia Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Last week, we examined how Wildflower and Rocketship ensure that their efforts to tailor instruction to individual kids don’t end up lowering the bar for their struggling students. Both schools are fully committed to making sure all of their charges meet academic standards so they are well prepared for life and further learning. They just don’t think students should have to march through the curriculum in lock-step.

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