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

Finding The Right Role For Social And Emotional Learning

by Paul E. Peterson with Chester E. Finn Jr.via The Education Exchange
Monday, April 15, 2019

What is social and emotional learning, how does it relate to academic learning, and how much should schools focus on it? Chester E. Finn, Jr., a distinguished senior fellow and president emeritus at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, joins Paul E. Peterson to discuss “What Social and Emotional Learning Needs to Succeed and Survive,” a new paper co-written with Rick Hess.

In the News

All That US Help To Poor Kids In School Makes No Difference At All

quoting Eric Hanushek, Paul E. Petersonvia Continental Telegraph
Sunday, April 14, 2019

At least, no great difference in the gap between poor kids and richer kids in achievements at school. Which is something of a pity because the US does spend a fortune on these things.

In the News

Haven’t We Learned Our School Spending Lesson?

mentioning Eric Hanushek, Paul E. Petersonvia Patriot Post
Thursday, April 11, 2019

Here’s a perspective check for you: When I first came to Washington, D.C., more than 50 years ago, the big question when it came to schools was “Should the federal government have any role in financing education?”

In the News

Achievement Gap Between Rich And Poor Public School Students Unchanged Over 50 Years

quoting Eric Hanushek, Paul E. Petersonvia Reason
Monday, April 8, 2019

Half a century of trying hasn't closed one of schooling's most vexing achievement gaps. According to a new paper, the gap in educational achievement between public school students in the bottom 10th socioeconomic status (SES) percentile and those in the top 90th SES percentile has remained essentially unchanged over the last 50 years.

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Analysis and Commentary

The Education Exchange: Do Students Learn More With Better Math Textbooks?

by Paul E. Petersonvia The Education Exchange
Monday, April 8, 2019

Some studies have found that schools can get substantial gains in achievement by changing textbooks. But a new analysis by the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard finds little evidence of differences in achievement gains for schools using different math textbooks.

In the News

Can We Fix The Schools? (Maybe Not.)

quoting Eric Hanushek, Paul E. Petersonvia The Washington Post
Sunday, April 7, 2019

You can count on one familiar refrain in the 2020 presidential campaign: Fix the schools. Faith in education is one of the nation’s bedrock values. Better schools would (we think) narrow economic inequalities and help people reach their personal potential. Promises to revitalize schools are inevitable.

In the News

Lindsey Burke, Mary Clare Amselem: Trump’s Education Budget Cuts Justified

mentioning Eric Hanushek, Paul E. Petersonvia Fox News
Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Since 1965, federal taxpayers have poured an estimated $2 trillion into education programs associated with President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.

Analysis and Commentary

The Education Exchange: Fixing The Culture Of Contempt

by Paul E. Petersonvia The Education Exchange
Monday, April 1, 2019

In a new book, Love Your Enemies, Arthur Brooks describes the rise of a “culture of contempt”—a habit of seeing people who disagree with us not as merely incorrect or misguided, but as worthless--and considers what we can do to bridge divides and mend relationships.

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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?

In the News

U.S. Has A Head Start On Throwing Good Money After Bad

quoting Eric Hanushek, Paul E. Petersonvia Boston Herald
Friday, March 22, 2019
Imagine this scenario: You’re looking at your cable TV bill one day, and you notice a charge for the Smart Kids channel. You’ve never watched it, so you pick up the remote and click over and … nothing. No programming. Or — worse — it’s reruns of “Baywatch” and “Beavis and Butthead.”