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Mitch Pearlstein

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Mitch Pearlstein

Mitch Pearlstein, Ph.D.

Mitch Pearlstein is Founder and President of Center of the American Experiment, a nonpartisan, tax-exempt, public policy and educational institution which brings conservative and free market ideas to bear on the hardest problems facing Minnesota and the nation.  A think tank, for short.

Before his 1990 return to the Twin Cities, Dr. Pearlstein served for two years in the U.S. Department of Education, during the Reagan and (first) Bush administrations, where he held three positions, including Director of Outreach for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement.  Just prior to his federal service in Washington, Dr. Pearlstein spent four years as an editorial writer and columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, where he focused on foreign and national affairs.    

He also has been special assistant for policy and communications to Gov. Albert H. Quie of Minnesota; assistant to University of Minnesota President C. Peter Magrath (pronounced Ma-grah); a research fellow at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs; director of public information at Binghamton University; a reporter for The Sun-Bulletin, again in Binghamton; and a columnist for CityBusiness and Twin Cities Business Monthly.

Dr. Pearlstein’s most recent book is Broken Bonds: What Family Fragmentation Means for America’s Future (2014).  He’s also author of From Family Collapse to America’s Decline: The Educational, Economic, and Social Costs of Family Fragmentation (2011); Riding into the Sunrise: Al Quie and a Life of Faith, Service & Civility (2008); co-author (with Katherine A. Kersten) of Close to Home: Celebrations and Critiques of America’s Experiment in Freedom (2000); co-editor (with Wade F. Horn and David Blankenhorn) of The Fatherhood Movement: A Call to Action (1999); co-editor (with Annette Meeks) of Minnesota Policy Blueprint (1999); and editor of Certain Truths: Essays about Our Families, Children and Culture from American Experiment’s First Five Years (1995). 

A former adjunct professor of public administration at Hamline University in St. Paul, he earned his Ph.D. in educational administration, with an emphasis on higher education policy, at the University of Minnesota.  He did his undergraduate work in political science at Binghamton University.  In 2006, the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota named him one of 100 “Distinguished Alumni” from the college’s first 100 years.

Dr. Pearlstein is president of OAK (Opportunity for All Kids); a director of Minneapolis-based MicroGrants; a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs; a member of the Advisory Committee for the Master’s Program in Public Policy at the University of St. Thomas; and a member of the New York-based Commission on Parenthood’s Future.  He’s a former director of the Greater Twin Cities United Way; chairman of Minnesotans for School Choice; chairman of the St. Paul-based Partnership for Choice in Education; and a director of the General John Vessey, Jr. Leadership Academy.  He also was a member of the Aspen Institute’s Domestic Strategy Group; the Citizens League Higher Education Study Committee; the Steering Committee of Minnesotans for Major League Baseball; and a founder of the Washington-based Center for New Black Leadership. 

He is married to the Rev. Diane Darby McGowan, a police chaplain and deacon of an Episcopal parish.  They live in Minneapolis and have four adult children, six grandchildren, and currently only two dogs. 

January 2015

Mitch Pearlstein's Archive

Jul 13, 2015
In announcing his presidential bid last month, Donald Trump said Mexico was shipping rapists and other diseased undesirables north. Sensing that he might have been a tad too encompassing, and in arguably the worst all-time attempt to parenthetically make nice, he threw in: “And some, I assume, are good people.”
Jun 29, 2015
Calling all people who were thrilled about last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court that same-sex marriage is constitutional.
Jun 28, 2015
Up until a couple of years ago, and for about a decade, my wife, who is white, was the deacon of a nearly all-black Episcopal church in the Twin Cities. My role as “Senior Auxiliary Member, Self-Appointed” was significantly less official. But while I did not engage nearly as much as Diane did, I was involved more than enough to become good friends with many of the parishioners, many of whom were much older than me, even though I was then in my late 50s and early 60s
Jun 23, 2015
I once wrote a column about how I aspired to be Norwegian. This had something to do with my having served several years earlier on Al Quie’s gubernatorial staff. But as a New York native who had moved to Minnesota in 1974, my interest in being Norwegian also had to do with preferring the stereotypical Scandinavian way Diane Keaton’s family in Wisconsin celebrated Thanksgiving in “Annie Hall” instead of how Woody Allen’s family did so, presumably in Brooklyn.
Jun 23, 2015
Well, it’s been a couple of weeks since the Minnesota Legislature’s one-day special session and I had been hoping against hope they would reconvene again, having been inspired perhaps by the remarkable progress states as diverse as Nevada and New York have made over the last year in expanding school choice.
Jun 2, 2015
Video shown at Center of the American Experiment's 25th Anniversary Dinner on June 2, 2015 in Minneapolis. We are celebrating 25 years as Minnesota's Conservative Think Tank.
Jun 2, 2015
In celebration of American Experiments 25th anniversary, the Center has published “25 Years: Looking Back and Aiming Forward,” 50-plus pages jammed with year-by-year highlights from our first quarter century. Released in early June at American Experiment’s 2015 Annual Dinner, keynoted by humorist P. J. O’Rourke, it also discusses what’s coming up next and contains salutes from more than 30 Minnesota and national leaders. If you would like a copy sent to you please contact Samantha Peterson at or 612-584-4559.
May 6, 2015
On the day it ran last week, April 29, a friend sent me a blog that the Washington Post’s Philip Bump wrote criticizing Rand Paul, albeit reasonably gently, for what the latter reportedly said on Laura Ingraham’s radio talk show about the connection between the Baltimore riots and missing fathers.
Apr 28, 2015
Minnesota’s Ted Kolderie has been studying and re-conceiving schools and school systems for more than a few decades and is rightly respected both here and around the country for doing so with both uncommon creativity and measure, which is a pretty a good combination. So it carried weight when, in a recent column in the Star Tribune (April 19), he acknowledged: “Openly now, it is said there is no successful urban [school] district anywhere in the nation – not one.”