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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

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.”
Apr 15, 2015
New poll numbers gauging what Minnesotans think about various education issues, including different kinds of school choice, are remarkably similar to two other clusters of numbers I recalled from the 1990s.
Mar 31, 2015
Over the last four years, thousands of low-income parents in Minnesota have been able to use state-backed scholarships in choosing where their pre-K boys and girls might attend pre-school, including religious schools and houses of worship. A lot of politicians, educators, and other players on various sides of various aisles deserve large credit for creating a program which has not relied wholly on public schools and which likewise has not been under the heavy thumbs of the educational bureaucracy, starting with Education Minnesota, the teachers union. Programs, moreover, which have been certified as strong by what has come to be known as Parent Aware Ratings. Gov. Mark Dayton had been one of the main guardians of this excellent approach, which is a kind of voucher program.
Mar 19, 2015
I’ve long believed marriage can be strengthened, and nonmarital birth rates measurably reduced, if we find ways of taking greater advantage of our nation’s religious institutions and traditions. More than a few observers think I’m wrong for thinking as I do: some because they gauge the power of faith as insufficient in such matters, and others because they believe marriage as we have come to know it in the United States and other key parts of the world is beyond rescue.
Mar 2, 2015
It occurred to me the other day that I may have learned more about how American families really work by being addicted to novelist Anne Tyler than by pouring over anything written by social scientists. This should not be interpreted as any kind of slam at sociologists, psychologists, and political scientists, many of whom are brilliantly insightful, but as recognition of the power of great storytelling.
Feb 23, 2015
We’re coming up on another 50th anniversary in March, this time of a report, which while on-target and remarkably prescient, was slandered when first released, leading to what might be called its public and scholarly excommunication—which led in turn to a catastrophic exacerbation of the already serious problem it described.
Feb 12, 2015
Let’s consider Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposed 2016-17 budget for Minnesota education through the lens of a February 7th Star Tribune editorial titled “Leading Change in Challenged Districts.” Here are three germane passages from the editorial, which focuses on Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools:
Jan 28, 2015
In honor of National School Choice Week, a very quick review of Minnesota gubernatorial history regarding educational freedom going back to 1971, all aimed at answering the question: What longstanding and telling pattern is Mark Dayton threatening to end?