Skip to content

Mitch Pearlstein

- Hide Bio

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 New York-based Commission on Parenthood’s Future.  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. 

January 2015

Mitch Pearlstein's Archive

Jan 26, 2012
Show your support for educational equality through more quality options for ALL children. Join us for a press conference and rally at the State Capitol during National School Choice Week to support legislation that will expand school choice in Minnesota.
Jan 18, 2012
Minneapolis, MN—Two influential Minnesota-based conservative public policy organizations—Center of the American Experiment and Minnesota Free Market Institute—today announced they are joining forces to form one new organization.
Jan 10, 2012
When it comes to government’s essential role in funding education, the holiest of grails is significantly improving quality while simultaneously constraining costs.
Jan 6, 2012
In her watershed 1993 article in the Atlantic, “Dan Quayle Was Right,” Barbara Dafoe Whitehead wrote of how “every time the issue of family structure has been raised, the response has been first controversy, then retreat, and finally silence.” That decisively had been the case 28 years earlier in the aftermath of the 1965 release of what quickly became known as the “Moynihan Report” on family breakdown in the African American community. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then an assistant secretary of labor in the Johnson administration, never once attributed blame to African Americans themselves, but rather, indicted the nation’s history of slavery and racism. His analysis, in fact, was exquisitely progressive, laying the conceptual foundation, for example, for affirmative action.
Dec 24, 2011
The Golden Strings—a group Variety once called the “longest running violin show in the world”—first appeared at the old Radisson Hotel in downtown Minneapolis on Valentine’s Day 1963. To be more exact, they performed in its famous Flame Room. They continued playing there until the hotel closed in 1981, consistently before big and appreciative audiences, as more than two million people heard the legendary group at the landmark hotel over nearly two decades.
Dec 21, 2011
C. Peter Magrath, who served as president of the University of Minnesota from 1974 to 1984, previously served two years as president of Binghamton University in Upstate New York. Without getting into the long and winding story, he’s finishing off his second stint as president there later this month—just a short of 40 years after he arrived the first time. The fact that I worked for him at both institutions and that he’s a great friend and mentor is personally important, albeit not vital to this story, which has to do with how public universities have come to elect presidents. Or, more precisely, it’s about the constrained pools from which presidents get picked.
Nov 22, 2011
About 30 years ago I wrote a two-part package about Thanksgiving for the old Minneapolis Star, the first piece running right before the holiday and the second shortly afterwards. As many recall, and as many others who weren’t around at the time don’t, the Star was the Cowles family’s afternoon paper in town and the Tribune was the morning paper. The two combined into a single morning paper soon afterwards. After a brief introduction, the first article was actually a questionnaire, with open-ended questions about television viewing on Thanksgiving. More specifically, it asked a series of questions about watching football games on that day. As with now, the Detroit Lions had long hosted an early game on Thanksgiving (routinely against the Green Bay Packers), and the Dallas Cowboys hosted another game later in the afternoon.
Nov 11, 2011
As you may recall, another Texas governor not too long ago – someone who actually did wind up in the White House – also was known to occasionally commit syntactical violence when speaking in front of big crowds with cameras, among other situations and places.
Oct 24, 2011
Herman Cain recently said he was not terribly familiar with neoconservatism. For a serious presidential candidate, this frankly was not impressive. Then, again, one might fairly grant that the term has been conceived in different ways over the last nearly five decades, with at least one definition used more as an indictment than a description. One might also grant that only folks who type for a living – not successful captains of industry – generally have the time to keep track and decipher such matters.
Oct 3, 2011
People on the right tend to be enthusiastic about yoking men and women in marriage and about locking bad guys up in prison. To what extent, however, does the latter practice undermine the former? Research verifies common sense by showing that married men are less likely than single men to break the law. Getting married is thus a good way for a man to help himself avoid getting locked up. But what about single men who have already been charged with committing crimes? They are less attractive marriage partners, not just because they may be incarcerated, but because rap sheets are not conducive to good-paying, family-supporting jobs. By not marrying, they lose a major source of support in straightening out their lives. How can they escape this trap?