Paul E. Peterson

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    Author Bio:
    Paul E. Peterson is the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government and Director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University, a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and Senior Editor of Education Next, a journal of opinion and research. Peterson is a former director of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and of the Governmental Studies Program at the Brookings Institution. He received his Ph. D. in political science from the University of Chicago. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Education, and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the German Marshall Foundation, and the Center for Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He is the author of the book, Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning (Harvard University Press, 2010). He is also the author or editor of numerous other publications including the following: School Choice International: Exploring public private partnerships (co-editor with Rajashri Chakrabarti) School Money Trials: The Legal Pursuit of Educational Adequacy (co-editor with Martin R. West) Reforming Education in Florida: A Study Prepared by the Koret Task Force on K-12 Education (editor) The Education Gap: Vouchers and Urban Schools (with William G. Howell) Generational Change: Closing the Test Score Gap (editor) No Child Left Behind? The Politics and Practice of School Accountability (co-editor with Martin R. West) The Future of School Choice (editor) Our Schools and our Future (editor) City Limits The Urban Underclass (co-edited with Christopher Jencks) Price of Federalism Welfare Magnets (with Mark C. Rom) The New American Democracy (with Morris P. Fiorina, Bertram Johnson, and William G. Mayer) Four of his books have received major awards from the American Political Science Association. Most recently, he was awarded the Martha Derthick Best Book Award for The Price of Federalism. The award is presented to the author of a book published at least ten years ago that has made a lasting contribution to the study of federalism and intergovernmental relations. Peterson is a member of the independent review panel advising the Department of Education’s evaluation of the No Child Left Behind law and a member of the Hoover Institution’s Koret Task Force of K-12 Education at Stanford University. 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.


Have States Maintained High Expectations for Student Performance?

An analysis of 2017 state proficiency standards

FALL 2018 / VOL. 2018, NO. 4

The Politics of Choice When the Public School was Born

A review of Public vs. Private by Robert N. Gross

SUMMER 2018 / VOL. 18, NO. 3

Partisanship and Higher Education: Where Republicans and Democrats Agree

In our most recent public-opinion survey, we find sharp differences between Democrats and Republicans about the value of a bachelor’s degree (as distinct from a two-year associate’s degree).

WINTER 2018 / VOL. 18, NO. 1

The 2017 EdNext Poll on School Reform

Public thinking on school choice, Common Core, higher ed, and more

WINTER 2018 / VOL. 18, NO. 1

Changing Our Teens One Family at a Time

A review of “The Vanishing American Adult” by Ben Sasse

WINTER 2018 / VOL. 18, NO. 1

What Do Parents Think of Their Children’s Schools?

EdNext poll compares charter, district, and private schools nationwide

SPRING 2017 / VOL. 17, NO. 2

How Satisfied are Parents with Their Children’s Schools?

New evidence from a U.S. Department of Education survey

SPRING 2017 / VOL. 17, NO. 2

Ten-year Trends in Public Opinion From the EdNext Poll

Common Core and vouchers down, but many other reforms still popular

WINTER 2017 / VOL. 17, NO. 1

Not Leaving, Just Changing Jobs

This is the last issue of Education Next for which I will serve as editor-in-chief.

Summer 2016 / Vol. 16, No. 3

The End of the Bush-Obama Regulatory Approach to School Reform

Choice and competition remain the country’s best hope

Summer 2016 / Vol. 16, No. 3

Blog Posts/Multimedia

Studies Find No Effects

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (Jan. 7) about whether randomized field trials in education should be abandoned, since they so rarely find that the treatments have any effects.


New York Times on the Wall Street Journal: The Stove Pot Calling the Mixing Bowl Black

In what is certain to be the top hilarity story of the week, New York Times columnist David Carr “thoughtfully” reveals what he sees as the drift to the right on the part of his company’s great rival, the Wall Street Journal.


Focus of School Reform Shifting to Teachers

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week about whether teacher quality is eclipsing accountability and choice as a reform strategy and what role research plays in this.


Are Middle Schools or Middle Schoolers the Problem?

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (Dec. 10) about why it is so hard to talk to adolescents
about school and what schools can do to encourage parent involvement.


Technological Innovation is Our Best and Final Hope for Saving High Quality Math and Science Education

More than half of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are immigrants, wrote Paul Kedrosky and Brad Feld in a Wall Street Journal editorial last Wednesday. Kedrosky and Feld cite this fact to argue that visas for talented foreigners are desperately needed to sustain the growth sectors in the American economy. Their point is well taken, but the fix is only short term. The United States needs to begin growing its own creative talent by educating the best of our young people in science, math, and cognitive science skills from an early age.


Biggest Spender in Politics: The NEA

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (Dec. 4) about what the National Education Association is buying with its campaign contributions, which total $56.3 million and exceed the campaign contributions made by any other organization in America.


Is the Decline of the Mainstream Press Bad for Education?

Education is the top in only 1.4 percent of news coverage by television, radio, newspapers and news web sites, a report issued by the Brookings Institution tells us. Should we be distressed? Perhaps, but we shouldn’t be surprised.


Race to the Top Versus the Money Chase

The National Education Association (and its local affiliates) gave $56.3 million dollars to state and federal election campaigns in 2007 and 2008, more than any other entity. The much smaller American Federation of Teachers tossed in another $12 million dollars into political campaigns. This enormous cash nexus that swamps anything any business entity has contributed creates a huge problem for Arne Duncan.


Saving Jobs or Stimulating Reform?

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (Nov. 24) about the effect of the stimulus package on education, a sector that has proven to be very good at job creation.


Election Postmortem

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (Nov. 19) about what the results of the 2009 off-year elections mean for education.


Will Congress Reroute the Preschool Juggernaut?

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (Nov. 4) about a bill passed by the House that would send $8 billion to states to boost the quality of preschools and expand the number of preschool spots for disadvantaged children.


Stimulating Stagnation in Education

According to a New York Times report, the Obama Administration admits that over half of the jobs it created or saved by its stimulus package were in the field of education. Had that money really been spent in ways to promote educational productivity, it would have been faithful to the investment goals of the stimulus package.


Voters Choose Neighborhood Schools over Socioeconomic Diversity

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (October 29) about Wake County, North Carolina, where voters earlier this month elected new school board members who have pledged to undo the county’s controversial policy of assigning students to schools based on income (to achieve diversity).


In Memoriam: Theodore Sizer

What is most important is that Sizer, as establishment a figure in education as any, never forgot what was most important: searching for the successful ways of educating the next generation.


The Nobel Committee Isn’t the Only One Giving Speculative Prizes

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (October 22) about wishful thinking in the education reform community. Do school reformers need to temper their enthusiasm about the reform du jour?


Instead of Creating Charters, Just Incarcerate the Students

A Massachusetts state commission has solved the high school drop-out problem. Just incarcerate the students. That’s the thrust of its recommendation.


Nobel Prize Winner Elinor Ostrom and Her Theory of Co-Production

The selection of political scientist Elinor Ostrom as worthy of a Nobel prize in economics has been as astonishing to many economists as was the choice of President Obama as peacemaker of the year. In her case, the question is not “What has she done?” but “Who is she?” To those of us influenced by her work, however, her selection has been deeply satisfying.


Will Michelle Rhee Triumph?

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (October 14) about education politics in Washington, D.C., where Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee recently fired 229 teachers.


Will the Federal Role in Education Double?

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week about Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s recent speech, the future of federal education spending, and making NCLB’s successor tighter about ends and looser about means.


Charter Schools Narrow Achievement Gaps in New York City

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk about Caroline Hoxby’s random assignment study of student achievement in charter schools in New York City.


Evaluation of D.C. Voucher Program

Video: Patrick Wolf talks with Education Next about his “gold standard” evaluation of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and about the likely future of that program.


Liberating Learning

Political scientists Terry Moe and John Chubb have shifted their bets from that spoke of the school-reform roulette wheel named “school voucher” to one marked “technological innovation.”


How Much Support Is There for Merit Pay?

Opinion on merit pay has yet to consolidate in one direction or another, as a lot of people have yet to make up their mind.


Charter Schools, Unions, and Linking Teachers with Student Achievement Data

Podcast: Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. discuss the week’s education news, including an announcement that a charter school in Massachusetts has signed a collective bargaining agreement with its teachers, an agreement that includes merit pay.


When it Comes to Supporting NCLB, It’s the Way You Ask the Question That Counts

In polls, the way you ask the question can sometimes determine the answer you get. If the public has no strong opinion, they can be swayed by the question itself.


Polls Seem to Differ on Charters, But In Fact They Agree

According to the Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll, 64 percent of all Americans “favor the idea of charters.” But according to the Ednext poll, only 39 percent “support the formation of charter schools.”


Health Lessons from Schools

If the public-school analogy holds, the public option in health-care insurance won’t create a system of choice and competition, as the White House claims; it will slowly — or not so slowly — give way to a (nearly) single-payer system.


When It Comes to Charter Schools, What Do Americans Really Care About?

A look at the latest Ednext poll convinces me that the charter school movement needs to do one and only one thing to succeed—prove that charters can be effective in the classroom.


Rhetoric and Reality in the Education Stimulus Bill

Video: Interview with Paul E. Peterson on the education portion of the Stimulus Bill


Voucher Controversy

Video: Hoover Institution senior fellows and members of Hoovers Task Force on K12 Education Terry Moe and Paul Peterson comment on the controversy surrounding the Washington, D.C., voucher program.

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