School History

The Nation’s Charter Report Card. Paul E. Peterson, M. Danish Shakeel. Education Next, XXIV/1. 2023. November 14, 2023.

First-ever state ranking of charter student performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress

A Pessimistic View of Public-School Reform. Paul E. Peterson. Education Next. 2022. July 13, 2022.

“They’re not good,” the head of a Fortune 500 company lamented about U.S. schools not long ago. “Students learn little, education gaps are widening, and not much can be done about it.” Pressed on the matter, he relaxed. “It’s not a serious matter. Our universities are excellent, and we can import the talent we need—though we do need to worry about social peace.” Sadly, his public comments (which I’m paraphrasing here) neatly summarize private conversations heard when business and civic leaders gather. A few years back, a prominent U.S.

In New Book, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Emerges as a Modern Alyosha. Paul E. Peterson. Education Next. June 21, 2022.

With much the same characters and plot lines as The Brothers Karamazov, though absent its gripping prose, Hostages No More evokes memories of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s masterwork on good and evil. Former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos admits she does not have “a way with words,” but larger-than-life forces and personalities propel themselves straight through the vanilla writing and overwhelm Horatio Alger-style vignettes about families who chose their schools.

To Critics of The Beautiful Tree, a Pearl of a Reply. Paul E. Peterson. Education Next, XXI/2. 2021. March 03, 2021.

Nuggets of amber occasionally reward patient beachcombers who wade through miles of cold, gray clay on the southern shores of the Baltic Sea. Nuggets likewise await the patient reader who wades through this dense, repetitive private-school apology.

James S. Coleman: Education’s North Star. Paul E. Peterson. Education Next, 16(2). 2016.

A star has at least five points. So I was told by a senior colleague at a time in my life when I was desperately trying to figure out how to burnish just one. Even by that standard, James S. Coleman is securely situated in a celestial constellation, as five points can be discerned even if one looks only at his research on schools.

The Politics of School Reform, 1870 1940. Paul Peterson. University Of Chicago Press, 252 pages. 1985.

Was school reform in the decades following the Civil War an upper-middle-class effort to maintain control of the schools? Was public education simply a vehicle used by Protestant elites to impose their cultural ideas upon recalcitrant immigrants? This work challenges such standard, revisionist interpretations of American educational history. Urban public schools were created by a politically pluralistic society.

Making the Grade: Federal Policy and American Education. Paul Peterson. Twentieth Century Fund. 1983.

Comprehensive description of federal education programs that highlights the change in federal policy that takes place after 1964.