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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

May 3, 2012
I read in the Star Tribune on Tuesday that an old University of Minnesota friend, Prof. Norman Fruman, recently died of cancer in California at 88.
Apr 23, 2012
Chuck Colson’s life, as many people will recall, was entwined in Al Quie’s, about whom I was privileged to write a book four years ago. As very much continues to be the case with Minnesota’s former governor, Nixon’s uncelebrated “hatchet man,” who later founded Prison Fellowship following his own Watergate prison stint, was an American original. Better than that in regards to Chuck, who died Saturday at 80, it’s fair to say that few people ever make contributions so important following prologues so problematic. With a salute to what turned out to be a life invaluably lived, you may be interested in this excerpt from the Quie book, Riding into the Sunrise about how the two first became friends and brothers in Christ.
Apr 16, 2012
Reporting on one of last week’s more irritating “get out of my face” events, the Star Tribune ran a piece about how an outfit in Boston, something called “Corporate Accountability International” had urged Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis to get rid of its McDonald’s restaurant, which has been onsite for more than 20 years. A spokesman for the group was quoted as saying how having such a restaurant in a hospital “really runs counter to the goals of a health institution.”
Apr 11, 2012
Rare is the news story about right-side-of-the-aisle attempts to improve Minnesota education which doesn’t note the agitated disapproval of Education Minnesota, the state’s teachers union. Be the issue expanding educational options, alternatively licensing teachers, stressing accomplishment more and seniority less in making tough personnel decisions, or virtually any other aim other than substantially upping budgets, one can be reasonably confident that Education Minnesota will rise up so as to hunker down in opposition.
Apr 4, 2012
Permit me to introduce a new and, I'm afraid, necessary acronym: KSB. Or, if you prefer the long form: "Kicking Sociological Butt."
Mar 30, 2012
Editor's note: We asked the heads of two local think tanks, one liberal and one conservative, to describe what they like or admire about each other's sides of the political divide.
Mar 20, 2012
My American Experiment colleague Kathy Kersten recently wrote a column in the Star Tribune (March 11) about a consulting firm, the Pacific Education Group, which many local school districts already have paid a lot of money to, which argues that white people are “intellectual” and “capable of quantitative thinking,” but that black and brown people are “emotional” and “interested in feelings” and communicate through “body motions” like “rolling of the eyes.”
Feb 27, 2012
Please note that what follows is intended for you to buy a very good new book by my friend and colleague Steve Rothschild, The Non Nonprofit: For-Profit Thinking for Nonprofit Success. Click here for more information (
Feb 27, 2012
The Obama administration recently botched it with many American Catholics (and others) by bungling whether Catholic hospitals, universities and other institutions should be legally obliged to provide reproductive services and products the church opposes on doctrinal grounds.
Feb 8, 2012
Center of the American Experiment & Minnesota Free Market Institute have joined forces to form on new organization. Join us for a reception celebrating our new organization and to learn about what we will accomplish together.