Paul E. Peterson

Senior Fellow
Research Team: 
Awards and Honors:
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
National Academy of Education
Biography: 

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

Students In Large Urban Districts Making Gains

by Paul E. Petersonvia The Education Exchange
Monday, June 10, 2019

Students attending school in big cities made significant gains on NAEP in the years between 2003 and 2013 but those trend lines have flattened in recent years. Paul Peterson talks with Kristin Blagg, a research associate in the Center on Education Data and Policy at the Urban Institute, about what the data show, and about which districts made the greatest gains.

Analysis and Commentary

What Explains Gains In Miami-Dade County Schools?

by Paul E. Petersonvia The Education Exchange
Monday, June 3, 2019

In the most recent ratings put out by the state of Florida, Miami-Dade County Public Schools earned an "A" designation and had no "F" rated schools, unusual achievements for a large urban district. Ron Matus, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Step Up For Students, sits down with Paul E. Peterson to discuss some factors behind the school district's success: dynamic and stable leadership, an understanding of how to intervene in and support the most struggling schools, and many different options for families if they are not satisfied.

Analysis and Commentary

School Choice Is Plentiful In Milwaukee But Students Still Struggle

by Paul E. Petersonvia The Education Exchange
Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Families in Milwaukee gained access to the nation's first private school vouchers nearly three decades ago. Today the educational landscape in Milwaukee also includes charter schools and many other forms of public school choice. But standardized test scores are still low and the achievement gap between black and white students remains large.

Analysis and Commentary

Working Together For Charter Schools In Indianapolis

by Paul E. Petersonvia The Education Exchange
Monday, May 20, 2019

Robin J. Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, sits down with Paul E. Peterson to discuss what Indianapolis has done to make charter schools work.

Analysis and Commentary

The U.S. Department Of Education Touts Tax Credits, Title IX Reform

by Paul E. Petersonvia The Education Exchange
Monday, May 13, 2019

Jim Blew, assistant secretary for planning, evaluation and policy development at the U.S. Department of Education, sits down with Paul E. Peterson to discuss some of the work of the department, including a new federal tax credit initiative and proposed changes to Title IX.

Analysis and Commentary

The Education Exchange: A Different Desegregation Story In Boston

by Paul E. Petersonvia The Education Exchange
Monday, May 6, 2019

For over 50 years, a limited number of black students living in Boston have been able to enroll in schools in the suburbs as part of the METCO program, run by the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity. Charles Glenn sits down with Paul E. Peterson to discuss who benefits from the program and whether it distracts from larger issues related to urban schools.

Analysis and Commentary

The Education Exchange: Private School Participation In School Choice Programs Affected By Regulation

by Paul E. Petersonvia Education Next
Monday, April 29, 2019

A new study finds that students who receive vouchers to attend private schools in Louisiana are outperformed by students in a control group.

Policy InsightsFeatured

Education

featuring Eric Hanushek, Margaret (Macke) Raymond, Russell Roberts, Paul E. Peterson, Chester E. Finn Jr., Tom Churchvia PolicyEd
Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Education policy is complicated in the United States because of our federalist system. The federal government’s role in education is more advisory than operational. It provides a lot of guidance on the standards and goals for students, but allows states and local governments the flexibility to achieve them with varying methods. The federal government is in a position to know what we need in order to be competitive internationally. It can also be valuable in compensating students who need extra help. 

In the News

The Socioeconomic Achievement Gap Hasn’t Budged In Half A Century. Now What?

featuring Eric Hanushek, Paul E. Petersonvia AEI
Monday, April 22, 2019

For over half a century, Americans have relied on public schooling as the nation’s core strategy for promoting social and economic mobility across generations, giving every child a fair start regardless of family income and zip code. But a groundbreaking new study has found that despite enormous public investment — now at over $700 billion annually — achievement gaps between wealthier and poorer children have remained unchanged over the past 50 years.

Analysis and Commentary

The Education Exchange: Congress, The Weakest Branch?

by Paul E. Petersonvia The Education Exchange
Monday, April 22, 2019

Jeff Bergner, author of The Vanishing Congress, joins Paul E. Peterson to discuss how Congress has stopped doing its job and how that could change.

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