Skip to content

Mitch Pearlstein

- Hide Bio

Mitch Pearlstein

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; a research fellow at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota; assistant to University of Minnesota President C. Peter Magrath (pronounced Ma-grah); 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 From Family Collapse to America’s Decline: The Educational, Economic, and Social Costs of Family Fragmentation (2011).  He is also author of Riding into the Sunrise: Al Quie and a Life of Faith, Service & Civility (2008); co-author (with Katherine A. Kersten) of Close to Home (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). He is currently working on a follow-up to From Family Collapse to America’s Decline, tentatively titled Drawn & Quartiled: What Will America Look Like if Massive Family Fragmentation Continues?

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 a director of the Greater Twin Cities United Way; Minneapolis-based MicroGrants; and Veritas et Lux Preparatory School in St. Peter, MN.  He formerly served as chairman of Minnesotans for School Choice and the St. Paul-based Partnership for Choice in Education, as well as a director of the General John Vessey Jr. Leadership Academy.  He is a member of the New York-based Commission on Parenthood’s Future and the Dean’s Advisory Council at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.  He 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 Minneapolis Police chaplain.  They live in Minneapolis and have four adult children, four grandchildren, and currently only two dogs.

August 2013

Mitch Pearlstein's Archive

Aug 15, 2010
There's serious talk once again in policy circles about whether too many Americans are going to college. For example, in introducing a roundtable on the subject late last year, the Chronicle of Higher Education (known as the bible in the field) noted a "growing sentiment that college may not be the best option for all students" in light of students' rising indebtedness and the increasing number of them "failing to graduate in four years."
Jul 17, 2010
No sympathy, please, as nonprofit organizations like American Experiment lose donors all the time for a variety of reasons; that's the nature of the fund-raising beast. But on the same day last week that gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton released his 2009 tax return, including an itemization of his charitable gifts for the year, a long-time Center donor coincidentally (or not) announced he couldn't contribute anymore, as he was moving to Florida. A business owner nearing retirement age, he told me a few years ago that it made no tax sense for him to remain a Minnesota resident much longer. So after a spell, he's now formally on his way out.
Jun 1, 2010
Whenever I stay at a hotel and ask a doorman to kindly hail a cab, I tip him a buck. For under a minute's work, I figure it's fair. Problem is, I've been figuring this way for a long time now, and if a dollar was fair a decade ago, it can't still be, given not only inflation but unusually rough economic times recently for many service workers.
Apr 26, 2010
Know the difference between an optimist and a pessimist? An optimist is someone who believes that this is the best of all possible worlds. A pessimist is someone who agrees.
Mar 17, 2010
A lot has been said and written about alternative teacher certification over the last several decades, with Minnesota only beginning to adequately engage on the issue. As many are fond of pointing out, this state has long helped lead the national way in any number of educational areas. Making it more feasible, however, for talented non-education majors to contribute as teachers has not been one of them.
Mar 7, 2010
We are think-tank presidents -- one conservative, the other progressive. When our views converge, we know we've hit on an idea that most Minnesotans will support. Here's one: protecting the integrity and impartiality of Minnesota's state court system.
Feb 9, 2010
Relying more on technology—which is not to suggest relying exclusively on it—is already demonstrating that boys and girls can learn substantially more while potentially taxing their parents measurably less.
Dec 22, 2009
Merry Christmas, one and all. Or, as Mel Torment and the rest of us down here at the deli serenade Garrison Keillor every year, "Ich bin ein Irving Berliner." Did Keillor really tell Jews to scram because he doesn't like listening to Christmas songs written by Chosen Composers while at the Dales?
Dec 21, 2009
By this stage, many people around town—and not a few across the country—have heard of the controversy surrounding a task force report on “Race, Culture, Class, and Gender” coming out of the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) at the University of Minnesota.
Dec 19, 2009
On behalf of the board of Directors of center of the American experiment, it is my honor and pleasure to introduce this remarkable anniversary publication, a fitting way of celebrating 20 years of first-rate writing – and as the following pages make clear, many other important contributions as well.