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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 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

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.
Jan 30, 2012
Madame Chair, Senator Nelson, and Members of the Committee: My name is Mitch Pearlstein and I’m founder and president of Center of the American Experiment, a conservative and free market think tank up and running in Minneapolis for 22 years now. My previous lives in education have included service on the staffs of University of Minnesota President C. Peter Magrath and Gov. Albert H. Quie, as well as in the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education. My doctorate is in educational administration from the University of Minnesota and my most recent book[i] spends a considerable amount of time on ways in which we might improve the educational achievement of all children, but especially our most disadvantaged young people.
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.