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 has evaluated the effectiveness of school vouchers and other education reform initiatives. He is author or editor of numerous books, including Saving Schools, which documents the forces that undermined the effectiveness of a once dynamic educational system. His 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.
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 was a member of the independent review panel advising the Department of Educations evaluation of the No Child Left Behind law and a member of the Hoover Institutions 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.
He is the author of:
In this penetrating book, the authors provide a systematic empirical analysis of an important public policy issue—citizen participation in the Community Action Program of the Johnson administration's "War on Poverty." This Phoenix edition includes a new introduction in which the authors explicate the most important themes in their analysis.