Michael J. Petrilli

Visiting Fellow

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

What Schools Can Learn From OrangeTheory About Differentiating Instruction

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

Almost a decade ago, I wrote that “the greatest challenge facing America’s schools today isn’t the budget crisis, or standardized testing, or ‘teacher quality.’ It’s the enormous variation in the academic level of students coming into any given classroom.”


Michael Petrilli & Chester Finn Jr.: Is Checker Going Soft On “Social And Emotional Learning”?

interview with Michael J. Petrilli, Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Gadfly
Thursday, April 11, 2019

Hoover Institution fellows Michael Petrilli and Chester Finn discuss with David Griffith, his new paper with Rick Hess, how the social and emotional learning movement can avoid going off the rails.

Analysis and Commentary

Two New School Choice Studies Offer Nuanced Findings About Test Scores And Long-Term Impacts

by Michael J. Petrillivia Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Monday, April 8, 2019

Warning: this one’s going to get super wonky. A year ago, I published a five-part (!) series digging into the question of whether school choice programs’ impacts on test scores were predictive of their students’ long-term success—in other words, whether higher test scores among participants in such programs foreshadowed positive outcomes like high school graduation, college enrollment, college completion, and gainful employment.


Michael Petrilli: The Education Gadfly Show: CTE And Local Labor Markets

interview with Michael J. Petrillivia Thomas Fordham Institute
Friday, April 5, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Michael Petrilli discusses the findings of Fordham’s newest report, How Aligned is Career and Technical Education to Local Labor Markets?

Analysis and Commentary

Are Career-Tech Students Preparing For Jobs That Actually Exist?

by Amber M. Northern, Michael J. Petrillivia Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Not long ago, the New York Times ran a revealing article titled “The Typical American Lives Only 18 Miles From Mom.” Based on a comprehensive survey of older Americans, the authors reported that, “Over the last few decades, Americans have become less mobile, and most adults—especially those with less education or lower incomes—do not venture far from their hometowns.” In fact, “the median distance Americans live from their mother is eighteen miles, and only 20 percent live more than a couple of hours’ drive from their parents.”


Michael Petrilli On The Education Gadfly Show: Are Schools Ready For An Economic Downturn?

interview with Michael J. Petrillivia Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Michael Petrilli talks about reminding schools to prepare for a rainy day, which is likely coming soon.

Analysis and Commentary

A Moonshot For Kids

by Michael J. Petrillivia Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Spring may be coming, but our “policy winter” continues. That’s my forecast, anyway, as today’s crazy politics combined with leftover fatigue from the Bush-Obama era has led most of the nation’s leaders to shy away from anything that looks or sounds like a big new move to reform K–12 education, outside showering our broken system with lots more money.

Analysis and Commentary

NJ'S Challenge Is To Maintain Standards For High School Graduation

by Michael J. Petrillivia NJ Spotlight
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Recent turmoil over graduation requirements in Garden State must not open the door to less rigorous expectations for students.

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Analysis and Commentary

The Education Exchange: How Declining Birth Rates Could Affect Schools

by Paul E. Peterson interview with Michael J. Petrillivia The Education Exchange
Monday, March 25, 2019

A decline in birth rates in the U.S. could mean that the school-aged population will spiral downward in the next decade and beyond. Would this be a disaster for schools? Or could there be a silver lining?


Michael Petrilli: The Education Gadfly Show: Education’s Philanthropic Shift

interview with Michael J. Petrillivia Education Gadfly (Thomas B. Fordham Institute)
Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Michael Petrilli discusses philanthropy’s shift to the left on education policies.