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Mitch Pearlstein

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Mitch Pearlstein

Mitch Pearlstein, Ph.D.

Mitch Pearlstein's new title is Founder and American Experiment Senior Fellow, having served until 2015 as the Center's president for its first quarter century. Center of the American Experiment, is 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

Apr 21, 2016
I participated on a panel earlier this week on the stubborn persistence of achievement gaps, and as you might guess, at the first opening I jumped in and started talking about the importance of giving parents more opportunities to send their children to private schools, if they believe doing so is in their children’s best interest. I said what I said because research is clear that many lower-income and minority kids (not all) do better in private schools, very much including religious ones, than they otherwise might in public schools.
Apr 15, 2016
The Metropolitan Council released a report this week statistically documenting, once again, disparities between “persons of color and White, non-Latinos” in regards to poverty rates, home ownership, employment, and levels of education in the 16-county Twin Cities region. All four sets of disparities are among the biggest in the country. The report relies on regression analysis, a research method I’m not nearly expert in, but about which I know two key things in this instance.
Apr 6, 2016
How might you answer the two questions below dealing with religion, ethnicity, and race, keeping in mind the PC police may pay a distasteful visit if they decide that what you say is, at the very least, “insensitive,” no matter how inscrutable and ridiculous their reasoning may be?
Apr 1, 2016
Much of what can be said about the Jamar Clark case in Minneapolis, particularly in regards to Minnesotans’ wildly varied reactions to it from its start last November to its not-yet end, also can be said about the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 and the Trayvon Martin shooting in Sanford, Florida in 2012. Differences of opinion notwithstanding in each event, the common conceptual threads running through all three, as well as through similar cases nationally, are thicker than thin.
Mar 18, 2016
Google the names of this season’s presidential contenders alongside terms such as “family breakdown,” “family fragmentation, and “single parent” and you come up with hardly anything.
Mar 16, 2016
The Minnesota Legislature won’t deal in any comprehensive way with education spending until next year, but any legislative session is a good time to take a look at the connections, if any, between how much money Minnesotans and other Americans spend on public education and how much students actually learn.
Mar 9, 2016
In a theatrically rich juxtaposition last Sunday night, the second half of the Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders debate in Michigan overlapped with the first hour of the final episode of Downtown Abbey, filmed in England. What exactly was the instructive contrast?
Mar 3, 2016
A few bulleted, campaign-inspired thoughts about political correctness, which I started writing about in the 1970s. One of the best things I wrote in graduate school back then was a paper titled “Academic Values and Liberal Orthodoxy,” in which the latter two words were stand-ins for PC. It was a paper that my professor – a wonderful scholar but no right-winger – called a “contribution to the sociology of ignorance,” which she really did mean as a compliment.
Feb 25, 2016
This is the newest installment in Dr. Pearlstein’s year-long review of how well Minnesota and U.S. students are doing in various international and other comparisons. This one takes a different tack as it highlights how much better American girls and young women are doing compared to American boys and young men, educationally and in other ways.
Feb 18, 2016
On Tuesday of this week, the Star Tribune ran a story about how sizable proportions of public school teachers in St. Paul would not recommend their school to parents seeking a place for their child. More precisely, more than a third of them described their “commitment” to their respective schools as either “weak” or “very weak.” Interestingly and for whatever reason, a larger proportion, more than half, were negative if their school had preschool programs.