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

Analysis and Commentary

Latest NAEP Results: Obama Administration Fails U. S. Students

by Paul E. Petersonvia Education Next
Tuesday, April 10, 2018

D minus. That’s the generous grade to give the Obama Administration—based on student test performances in math and reading over the eight years it held office (2009-2017). Its final grade became apparent just this week when the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the official report card for U. S. schools nationwide, released the 2017 results.

Analysis and Commentary

Exclusive Analysis: New Harvard Study Shows Public Support For Charter Schools Has Jumped 10 Points In Last Year

by Paul E. Peterson, Albert Chengvia The 74 Million
Tuesday, March 27, 2018

For Democrats and Republicans alike, charter schools have long provided a happy compromise between vouchers for religious schools and no school choice at all. Charters give families an alternative schooling option but remain publicly funded, secular institutions authorized by government agencies. They have been warmly endorsed by Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.


Secret Finding From PDK Poll: Support For Vouchers Is Rising

by Paul E. Petersonvia EducationNext
Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The just released PDK survey of U. S. adults reveals an upward shift in public support for vouchers of 12 percentage points over the past four years, with 8 of those percentage points gained since 2015. Meanwhile, voucher opposition fell by 18 percentage points over this same four-year time...

Featured CommentaryFeatured

California’s Board Of Education Ignores Teacher Effectiveness– But One In Ten Teachers Are Ineffective, Claim Fellow Instructors

by Paul E. Petersonvia Eureka
Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ever since a California superior court determined three years ago that teacher tenure and seniority rights concentrated inexperienced teachers in disadvantaged communities (Vergara v. California), the state’s Board of Education has been trying hard not to think about teacher effectiveness. An appeals court overturned the lower court decision, but the state board remains worried about other legal and political attacks.


When It Comes To Education, Are Californians Unique?

by Paul E. Petersonvia EducationNext
Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Of all the 48 continental states, the Grizzly Bear State, as it was originally known, has the hottest, driest valley (Death Valley), the highest hill (Mt. Whitney), the largest living tree (Sequoia), the most people, and the greatest number of domestically raised turkeys living outside the state capital (Sacramento). But when it comes to K-12 education, are the views of Californians any different from those living elsewhere across the United States?


Americans May Be More Tolerant Of Muslims Than Ever

by Paul E. Petersonvia Wall Street Journal
Monday, August 14, 2017

How would you feel about an Islamic after-school club at a public school? Support has been rising.

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A Chance for Choice

by Paul E. Petersonvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 24, 2017

By appointing Betsy DeVos education secretary, President Trump shows he’s listening to parents. 


Trump’s Education Pick: A Win For Public-School Parents

by Paul E. Petersonvia Wall Street Journal
Monday, December 12, 2016

School choice might be the answer for parents who want more for their kids.

Analysis and Commentary

Pence, Trump, And The Ed Reform Agenda

by Paul E. Petersonvia Education Next
Thursday, November 10, 2016

With Donald Trump set to enter the Oval Office, Vice President-elect Michael Pence seems likely to shape the federal role in education for the next four years. As a former governor who made school reform a top priority, Pence will interpret the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as a barrier to federal oversight of state and local decisions.

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One Brainchild Left Behind

by Paul E. Petersonvia Hoover Digest
Friday, October 21, 2016

The federal drive for school reform has ground to a halt. Now the long struggle is back in the hands of states and communities.