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 Best Educational YouTube Channels For Kids

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, August 8, 2018

I’ve long had a complicated relationship with screen time for my young sons, but have come to see its benefits, especially if the focus is on quality over quantity. This has inspired me to publish lists of my favorite TV shows for young kids and for families; a compilation of educational videos; and a list of recommended apps. Now for the next frontier: YouTube. My ten-year-old LOVES “Geography Now!” and “Extra History,” from which he’s learned at least ten times more social studies than he has from Montgomery County Public Schools.

Analysis and Commentary

Opinion: It's Time To Irrigate Charter School Deserts

by Amber M. Northern, Michael J. Petrillivia Cincinnati Enquirer
Monday, July 30, 2018
In a country built on the freedom to choose – whether that's Verizon or AT&T, Hulu or Netflix, iPhone or Android – it's hard to understand why we don't give poor families the opportunity to choose their schools, just as middle- and upper-income families can do via private schools or buying into the right neighborhood.
Analysis and Commentary

A Compromise On Discipline Is At Hand

by Michael J. Petrillivia Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Monday, July 16, 2018
I won’t lie: I was disappointed to see so many education-reform leaders and organizations sign onto a letter circulated by Educators for Excellence and the Discipline Revolution Project urging the administration to keep the Obama-era school discipline policy in place. But I remain optimistic that a commonsense resolution can be found—and implemented.
Analysis and Commentary

Where Education Reform Goes From Here

by Michael J. Petrillivia EducationNext
Thursday, July 12, 2018

After two decades of mostly-forward movement and many big wins, the last few years have been a tough patch for education reform. 

Education Image
Analysis and Commentary

Where Education Reform Goes From Here

by Michael J. Petrillivia Medium
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

After two decades of mostly-forward movement and many big wins, the last few years have been a tough patch for education reform. The populist right has attacked standards, testing, and accountability, with particular emphasis on the Common Core, as well as testing itself. The election of Donald Trump and appointment of Betsy DeVos, meanwhile, have made school choice and charter schools toxic on much of the progressive left.

Analysis and Commentary

Crowdsourcing Request: Best Educational YouTube Channels For Kids

by Michael J. Petrillivia Ed Excellence
Monday, June 25, 2018

As a recovering Waldorf parent, I’ve long had a complicated relationship with screen time, but have come to see its benefits, especially if the focus is on quality over quantity. This has inspired me to publish lists of my favorite TV shows for young kids and for families; a compilation of educational videos; and a list of recommended apps. Now for the next frontier: YouTube.

Analysis and Commentary

Why Don't Districts Do The Easy Things To Improve Student Learning?

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, June 20, 2018

I’ve never led a school, run a school system, or served on a school board. So maybe I am about to ask something that is incredibly naïve and possibly insulting. But here goes: Why are so many of our school districts so complacent? I understand why they don’t always do the hard things, like firing ineffective veteran teachers, or expensive things, like starting one-on-one tutoring programs. But I can’t fathom why so many don’t do the easy, more or less no-cost things, either.

Analysis and Commentary

Self-Discipline: Yet Another Catholic School Advantage

by Amber M. Northern, Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, June 6, 2018

How does self-discipline develop? Certainly it comes in part from institutions of civil society such as home, family, and church. But schools can make a difference too, and over the years Catholic schools—the largest provider of private education in the United States—have been particularly committed to the development of sound character, including the acquisition of self-discipline.

Analysis and Commentary

Seven Do's And Don't's Of School Discipline Reform

by Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, June 6, 2018

It seems likely that the Trump administration will soon revise or rescind an Obama-era directive intended to address racial disparities in school disciplinary actions. The "Dear Colleague" letter in question, issued by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice in 2014, has been the subject of much debate. 

Analysis and Commentary

7 Suggestions For Better School Discipline

by Michael J. Petrillivia Education Week
Tuesday, May 29, 2018

It seems pretty likely that the Trump administration will revise or rescind an Obama-era directive intended to address racial disparities in school disciplinary actions. The "Dear Colleague" letter in question, issued by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice in 2014, has been the subject of much debate of late. 

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