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Mitch Pearlstein

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Mitch Pearlstein

Mitch Pearlstein, Ph.D.

Mitch Pearlstein's new title is Founder and American Experiment Senior Fellow, having served until 2015 as the Center's president for its first quarter century. Center of the American Experiment, is 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

Sep 22, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS — The summer after Gov. Wendy Anderson held up the northern pike, one of us (Pearlstein) was 25 and getting ready to move from upstate New York to the Twin Cities to work at the University of Minnesota.
Aug 14, 2013
Center of the American Experiment received a letter last week from U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois. We are normally thrilled to hear from any elected official given the fact that we are a policy organization. Our excitement quickly turned to indignation upon reading the letter.
Jul 19, 2013
But instincts and doubts, no matter how deeply rooted in Jim Crow and lynching, should not be more determinative than facts, and based on what I believe to be factually true, I would argue that race did not play a role in Zimmerman shooting Martin or in a jury’s decision to acquit him. On one side of our nation’s most divisive current divide are people who believe that race – mostly Trayvon Martin’s – was the prime reason George Zimmerman followed and shot him that night in Florida 17 months ago. And that race once again – in this instance, both Zimmerman and Martin’s – led to the not-guilty verdict last week. On the other side of the line are those who contend that race simply had nothing to do with either the shooting or verdict.
Jun 26, 2013
Dane Smith has been my worthy counterpart at Minnesota’s major progressive think tank, Growth & Justice, since he assumed the presidency there six years ago. In the same way he generously has written approvingly about some things I’ve written in recent years, I’m pleased to write approvingly about a recent commentary of his in the Star Tribune.
May 7, 2013
Sunday’s Opinion section in the Star Tribune had a lot to like as well as not like, including in the first category Senior Fellow Kathy Kersten’s decisive column about Minnesota’s overspending and overtaxing ways. If you haven’t read “Someone’s Got to Pay for All That Spending” you can do so here.
Apr 8, 2013
Center of the American Experiment’ opened up in 1990 and our first Annual Dinner was in 1992. While early keynoters included great stars and heroes such as Bill Bennett, Robert Bork, and Jeane Kirkpatrick, 1997 with Margaret Thatcher was a breakthrough. She had just been introduced by emcee Norm Coleman that May evening, and there we were, up on the dais together, belting out – accompanied by a sold-out audience of more than 2,200 people at the Minneapolis Convention Center – “God Save the Queen” followed by the “Star Spangled Banner.”
Apr 5, 2013
As columnists and others have recently noted, this month is the 20th anniversary of cultural historian Barbara Dafoe Whitehead’s landmark article in The Atlantic Monthly, “Dan Quayle Was Right.” Simply put, what Whitehead said the Vice President was right about were his strong comments about family breakdown and the pivotal importance of children getting to grow up with both their mother and father; not just one or the other. For reasons described below, Quayle made his May 1992 remarks in what immediately became known as his “Murphy Brown” speech. Ms. Brown, as you may recall, was a television character played by Candace Bergen who had baby as a single woman.
Mar 27, 2013
Here’s a sampling of very good books that have shaped some of my own writing over the years. Other than broad themes of poverty and education, what might their common denominator be? Losing Ground, by Charles Murray The Tragedy of American Compassion, by Marvin Olasky Work over Welfare, by Ron Haskins The War Against Boys, by Christina Hoff Sommers Troublemaker, by Chester E. Finn, Jr.
Mar 26, 2013
I don’t precisely know what current public school practices are when it comes to acknowledging and celebrating Easter, but it’s assuredly true that principals, teachers, and children were afforded substantially more freedom at P.S. 215 in New York when I was a third grader there approaching 60 years ago.
Mar 20, 2013
Our radio friend Hugh Hewitt recently wrote an excellent column about Pope Francis and how American conservatives must realize that his election “will almost certainly make the Catholic vote in America more difficult to appeal to much less win because this pope will talk about the poor always and everywhere, and the GOP has not yet developed the ability to do so with compassion and effectiveness though it ought to welcome the conversation.”