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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

Feb 11, 2016
More than most people who write about academic achievement and reform, I focus on what’s going on in the lives of children and adolescents outside of school. This is certainly not to say I’m oblivious to often immense differences in quality among schools. It is to say that debates and efforts about how to improve learning in Minnesota and the rest of the United States routinely downplay (as I’ve been known to note) immense rates of family fragmentation and other social and cultural impediments to learning.
Feb 5, 2016
When it comes to matters such as celebrating (or not celebrating) holidays in elementary schools, or seeing a need to take out full-page ads about treating everyone with dignity regardless of their faith, I ask myself questions such as: “Who are we as a people?” And then voicing assertions such as: “This is what we are as a nation.”
Jan 12, 2016
Mitch Pearlstein of the Center of the American Experiment cautions that the disintegration of the family, if not addressed today with an appropriate sense of urgency, will continue to cause our society's most serious problems. He presents statistics that support this assertion and offers ideas for action that could help to stem the decline of traditional family structure that he believes inevitably threatens the stability of our communities.
Jan 6, 2016
One of the toughest chores in comprehending and critiquing American education is getting the balance right between focusing on the weaknesses of schools versus those of families and students. In a handful of words, I would argue that the right balance goes something like this: While student shortcomings of various kinds are often correctly seen as bigger factors in their poor performances than the far-from-perfect schools they attend, this does not mean that other kinds of schools can’t help many of them learn measurably more, because they can.
Dec 23, 2015
For your reading pleasure this holiday season here are book recommendations from your friends at American Experiment:
Dec 17, 2015
I’ve always been intrigued by car commercials this time of year urging people to buy one for Christmas, usually a husband for his wife or a wife for her husband. Or occasionally a father for one of his kids, perhaps more often than not a daughter, as she’s more likely to provoke a paternal tear.
Dec 11, 2015
Having been rendered just about speechless this past week by a presidential candidate’s heretofore unimagined faith-based proposal, I figured it might be wise to defer to three former leaders who also had things to say about campaigning, governing, security, and religion.
Dec 3, 2015
Never mind trying to excise the name of a mere vice president from a Minneapolis lake, as is the case with John C. Calhoun, students at Princeton University want to excise the name of a full-fledged U.S. president from its campus, Woodrow Wilson.