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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

Aug 4, 2011
In just one week, I will have been a Minnesotan for 37 years, having moved here in 1974 from Binghamton, New York to work at the U of M. While I’m no longer as adept at outdoor activities as I should be in order to impersonate a native – the last time I went fishing I broke my rod by sitting on it – I would like to think I’m still reasonably sophisticated when it comes to our state’s most distinctive athletic and cultural institution. Meaning hockey.
Jul 29, 2011
It’s would be a stretch to say that any kid in Minneapolis Public Schools will wind up doing less well in ninth-grade algebra or tenth-grade English because of the district’s new controversy over the granting of recalculated back pay to 35 central administration officials—some of whom don’t even work there anymore—at the very same time teachers and others were being laid off. But the episode is very much reflective of the kinds of fights and diversions that routinely complicate and subtract from learning in big-city and formerly big-city school operations.
Jul 12, 2011
Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner have combined on an invaluable new book, City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era. The fact they are both Evangelical Christians makes many of their arguments all the more important and brave
Jun 27, 2011
Don’t look now, but the fiscal mountain blocking our path is rockier than usually advertised. Why? Because even if House Budget chairman Paul Ryan prevails on every contentious detail of his long-term plan for prosperity, family fragmentation​—​more severe in the United States than in any other industrialized nation​—​will make it more difficult than generally assumed to balance our books.
Jun 27, 2011
Reporter Baird Helgeson had a very good piece in the Star Tribune late last week about how Minnesota Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers is the “Man in the Middle” these hard days.
May 24, 2011
While all sides have less-than-ecumenical clergy (I seem to recall the president's former minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright), as someone who leads a conservative organization, my responsibility for speaking out when supposed conservatives say vile things is greater than when others do so.
May 24, 2011
It is really quite amazing – or maybe it really isn’t – for the national media and other fancy observers to continue dwelling on Tim Pawlenty’s supposed vanilla. “Pawlenty is polenta,” a perpetually cited political scientist from Virginia was quoted in the Pioneer Press this morning. “It’s bland, and that’s kind of where he is.” Another scholar, this one from always-scintillating Iowa, stuck with earth tones by describing Pawlenty as “beige.” Combining the two descriptions, one can only wonder if the new presidential candidate turns no deeper than lilac when he gets angry.
May 18, 2011
This excellent video reveals how Carpe Diem School in Yuma, Arizona boosts student achievement through blending traditional instruction with technology and extended learning opportunities.
May 17, 2011
The Star Tribune had a pretty good and balanced story on Sunday (May 15, 2011) about whether Minnesota should continue spending large amounts of money busing a fair number of students from one school and district to another in order, mainly, to improve the academic performance of minority and low-income boys and girls.
May 2, 2011
Here’s a guaranteed way of saving almost real money on health care costs. If a provider, such as a lab, winds up owing a patient under two cents, it should refrain from sending him a check for that amount, because if I had to guess, the stamp alone costs at least that much.