Biography

Paul E. Peterson
Paul E. Peterson
Paul Peterson is the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government in the Department of Government at Harvard University. He directs the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance, is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and is the Editor-In-Chief of Education Next, a journal of opinion and research.

He received his Ph. D. in political science from the University of Chicago. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Education, he has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the German Marshall Foundation, and the Center for Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He is an author or editor of over 30 books, four of which have been identified as the best work in its field by the American Political Science Association.

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 have been among the country’s most influential studies of education policy.

He is the author of:
Teachers versus the Public - What Americans Think about Schools and How to Fix Them. Paul Peterson, Michael Henderson, Martin R. West. Brookings Institution Press, 177 pages, Available April 29, 2014.

A comprehensive exploration of 21st Century school politics, Teachers versus the Public offers the first comparison of the education policy views of both teachers and the public as a whole, and reveals a deep, broad divide between the opinions held by citizens and those who teach in the public schools. Among the findings:

• Divisions between teachers and the public are wider and deeper than differences between other groups often thought to contest school policy, such as Republicans and Democrats, the young and the old, the rich and the poor, or African Americans and whites.

The Global Debt Crisis: Haunting U.S. and European Federalism. Paul Peterson, Daniel Nadler. Brookings Institution Press, 240 pages, 2014.

Stockton, California, recently became the largest American city in history to declare bankruptcy, having incurred a debt as high as $1 billion. Since 2010, seven U.S. cities, towns, or counties have filed for bankruptcy, while many more teeter on the brink of insolvency. Not since the Great Depression has America witnessed such grand-scale municipal bankruptcies. The Global Debt Crisis looks at this growing crisis and its implications for governance and federalism, both domestically and internationally.

Endangering Prosperity - A Global View of the American School. Eric A. Hanushek, Paul Peterson, Ludger Woessmann. Brookings Institution Press, 147 pages, 2013.

A trio of experts on international education policy compares the performance of students in American schools against those of other nations and shows the extraordinary benefits that can come from improved student performance.

The New American Democracy, Alternate Edition (7th Edition). Morris P. Fiorina, Paul Peterson, Bertram Johnson, William G. Mayer. Pearson, 7th edition, 624 pages, 2011.

Updated in a new 7th edition, The New American Democracy offers a stimulating, analytical approach to American government and a unique perspective on contemporary politics with an emphasis on elections and their importance in the American political system. The authors -- among the most well-known and well-respected scholars working in political science today --propose in their text that politicians today are perpetually engaged in the election process—a “permanent campaign”—which has profoundly affected how our government functions today.

America's New Democracy. Morris P. Fiorina, Paul Peterson, Bertram Johnson, William G. Mayer. Pearson Publishers, 6th edition, 608 pages, 2010.

With an emphasis on elections and their importance in our political system, this groundbreaking text offers a stimulating, analytical approach to American government that engages students as it gives them a unique understanding of their political system as it exists and functions today. (Succinct presentation of material in The New American Democracy)

Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning. Paul Peterson. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 336 pages, 2010.

Traces the story of the rise, decline, and potential resurrection of American public schools through the lives and ideas of six mission-driven reformers: Horace Mann, John Dewey, Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Shanker, William Bennett, and James Coleman. Many of these reformers sought to customize education to the needs of each child. But in ways that were never anticipated, reform efforts centralized power in the hands of those who controlled institutions remote from the concerns of families and local communities—large school districts, states, courts, collective bargaining agreements, and, eventually, the federal government. Now, the possibilities unleashed by technological innovation, when coupled with the economic impact of ever-rising cost of traditional schooling, have created an environment for another educational transformation.

The Education Gap: Vouchers And Urban Schools. William G. Howell, Paul Peterson. Brookings Institution Press; Revised edition, 323 pages, 2006.

The voucher debate has been both intense and ideologically polarizing, in good part because so little is known about how voucher programs operate in practice. In The Education Gap, William Howell and Paul Peterson report new findings drawn from the most comprehensive study on vouchers conducted to date. Added to the paperback edition of this groundbreaking volume are the authors’ insights into the latest school choice developments in American education, including new voucher initiatives, charter school expansion, and public-school choice under No Child Left Behind.

The Education Gap: Vouchers And Urban Schools. William G. Howell, Paul Peterson. Brookings Institution Press, 275 pages, 2002.

While the merits of vouchers have been the subject of intense public debate in recent years, there has been very little available evidence upon which to gauge their efficacy. The first publicly funded voucher plan involving private schools wasn't established until 1990 in Milwaukee; before then, the only data on school choice came from a small, poorly designed program in California. Voucher programs grew dramatically in the latter half of the 1990s. In 2000, about 60,000 students participated in seventy-one programs, most privately funded.

The Price of Federalism. Paul Peterson. Brookings Institution Press, 264 pages, 1995.

What is the price of federalism? Does it result in governmental interconnections that are too complex? Does it create overlapping responsibilities? Does it perpetuate social inequalities? Does it stifle economic growth? The book addresses these questions by developing two theories—functional and legislative—of the workings of the American federal system.

Welfare Magnets: A Case for a National Welfare Standard . Paul Peterson, Mark C. Rom. Brookings Institution Press, 178 pages, 1990.

"The best way of handling the question of how much to give the poor, politicians have discovered, is to avoid doing anything about it at all." This book explains why that is not an accident.

When Federalism Works . Paul Peterson, Barry George Rabe, Kenneth K. Wong. Brookings Institution Press, 243 pages, 1986.

Examines the conventional wisdom about federal grants. Considers the implementation and operation of federal programs for education, health care, and housing in four urban areas to learn which programs worked, when, and why.

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.

City Limits. Paul Peterson. University Of Chicago Press, 284 pages, 1981.

Path-breaking analysis of urban politics that shows why cities cannot be effective agents of redistributive policy.

School Politics Chicago Style. Paul Peterson. University Of Chicago Press, 320 pages, 1976.

Shows how the Daley machine, its reform opposition, and racial change form the context for school policy. Case studies of desegregation, collective bargaining and decentralization reveal how the basis for decisions can change when viewed through different interpretative lenses.

Winner of the Gladys Kammerer Award, American Political Science Association. Award given to the Best Book on American Politics.

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