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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 Marriage Opportunity Council.  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. 

May 2015

Mitch Pearlstein's Archive

Nov 24, 2015
I think occasionally about a Star Tribune column I wrote 20 years ago, immediately after the Oklahoma City bombing, wondering how well it might still apply. Provoked by radical Islamic mass murders in Paris a few days ago, I just reread it for the first time in a few years and the answer, I'm afraid, is it holds up too well. This is the case even though the OKC muderers turned out to be very white and very ugly Americans. Here's a passage from the column, "There's No Choice But to Look Hard at Those Who Look Different," which ran on April 23, 1995:
Nov 13, 2015
Sen. Marco Rubio said during the Republican presidential debate Tuesday night that the United States needs more welders and fewer philosophers. This may well be the case, though I’m sure he didn’t take into account Woody Allen’s long-ago admission about how he once cheated on a metaphysics exam by “looking into the soul of the boy sitting next to me.” While seemingly less practical than knowing how to solder well, knowing now to pry without needing judges to sign off clearly has great law enforcement and national security possibilities.
Nov 9, 2015
When people say they believe a particular institution is racist, or are convinced that they, their children or others have been treated unfairly for reasons of color — by educators or the police or anyone else — I’m in no position to disagree with what’s in their hearts. My history is not theirs; their shoes are not mine, and if that is what they sincerely believe, that is what they sincerely believe.
Nov 5, 2015
If you’re reading this blog I assume you’re of the mind that ideas matter. Or, jumping right to the nub, you likely agree that when a person who’s running for office takes notes “nonstop” at an all-day policy seminar, and very shortly thereafter winds up serving two terms as the most successful American mayor in recent history, that the ideas he heard discussed at that seminar might have carried some potency.
Oct 29, 2015
I’m very pro police for a variety of reasons, the most important being that cops are our last line of defense against barbarism.
Oct 23, 2015
For all you Minnesotans out there, you’ll be pleased to note we’ve once again shown up near the top – sorry, not the very top – of a national ranking.
Oct 22, 2015
10.21.15: Mitch Pearlstein is panelist in first hour responding to keynote of Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) at this American Enterprise Institute event.
Oct 9, 2015
The Star Tribune yesterday (October 8) ran a story about how high school graduation rates in Minneapolis are the lowest among 50 American cities, as cited in “Measuring Up: Educational Improvement & Opportunity in 50 Cities,” a study conducted by the Center for Reinventing Public Education. The group is affiliated with the University of Washington – Bothell.
Oct 1, 2015
Minneapolis Public Schools had one of its board meetings interrupted and closed down prematurely Tuesday night by protesters objecting to a book for little kids which had an American Indian character named “Neiko, the Hunting Girl” and an African American character named “Lazy Lucy.” School officials readily agreed with protesters that the two characters are unacceptable in their stereotyping and that the book wouldn’t be used, but they disagreed about ending all ties to the Utah-based publisher.
Sep 25, 2015
I can’t say my wife woke me on Wednesday morning to tell me Yogi Berra had died, but she did tell me seconds after I woke up. Consider it a sequence metaphorically akin to the vital, although less than life and death, role played by sports in American lives, mine very much included.