Peter Meyer

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    Author Bio:
    Peter Meyer is a former News Editor of Life magazine and the author of numerous nonfiction books, including the critically acclaimed The Yale Murder (Empire Books, 1982; Berkley Books, 1983) and Death of Innocence (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1985; Berkley Books, 1986). Over the course of his three-decade journalism career Meyer, who holds a masters degree in history from the University of Chicago, has touched down in cities around the globe, from Bennington to Baghdad, and has written hundreds of stories, on subjects as varied as anti-terrorist training for American ambassadors to the history of the 1040 income tax form. His work has appeared in such publications as Harper's, Vanity Fair, National Geographic, New York, Life, Time and People. Since 1991 Meyer has focused his attentions on education reform in the United States, an interest joined while writing a profile of education reformer E.D. Hirsch for Life. Meyer subsequently helped found a charter school, served on his local Board of Education (twice) and, for the last eight years, has been an editor at Education Next. His articles for the journal include “The Early Education of our Next President” (Fall 2008), “New York City’s Education Battles: The mayor, the schools, and the `rinky-dink candy store’” (Spring 2008), “Learning Separately: The case for single-sex schools” (Winter 2008), and “Can Catholic Schools Be Saved?” (Spring 2007). Meyer also writes and edits, mostly on education, for the American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute, and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, where he is a Senior Visiting Fellow.


New York City’s Small-Schools Revolution

Breaking up large high schools improved graduation rates

Uncommon Success

A conversation with Brett Peiser

SUMMER 2014 / VOL. 14, NO. 3

Will Mayor de Blasio Turn Back the School Reform Clock?

New York City’s charters and small high schools at risk

SPRING 2014 / VOL. 14, NO. 2

Education Activist Pursues an Ambitious Agenda

A conversation with Laura Bush

Spring 2013 / Vol. 13, No. 2

Newark’s Superintendent Rolls Up Her Sleeves and Gets to Work

A conversation with Cami Anderson

Winter 2013 / Vol. 13, No. 1

Advice for Education Reformers: Be Bold!

A conversation with Jeb Bush

FALL 2012 / VOL. 12, NO. 4

Taking on New Jersey

A conversation with Chris Cerf

SPRING 2012 / VOL. 12, NO. 2

“Hedge-Fund Guy” Emails Support to School Reformers

A conversation with Whitney Tilson

WINTER 2012 / VOL. 12, NO. 1

The New Superintendent of Schools for New Orleans

A conversation with John White

Fall 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 4

Assessing New York’s Commissioner of Education

With Steiner’s sudden resignation, will the state continue its Race to the Top?

Summer 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 3

Catholic Ethos, Public Education

How the Christian Brothers came to start two charter schools in Chicago

Spring 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 2

The Middle School Mess

If you love bungee jumping, you’re the middle school type

Winter 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 1

Can Catholic Schools Be Saved?

Lacking nuns and often students, a shrinking system looks for answers

Spring 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 2

Brighter Choices in Albany

Reformers in New York’s capital have brought high-quality charter schools to scale, giving hope to a generation of disadvantaged kids.

Fall 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 4

Learning Separately

The case for single-sex schools

Winter 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 1

New York City’s Education Battles

The mayor, the schools, and the “rinky-dink candy store”

Spring 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 2

The Early Education of Our Next President

Not much in public schools

Fall 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 4

Baby, Think It Over

Technology meets abstinence education

Fall 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 4

A Board’s Eye View

Lessons from life in public office

Spring 2004 / Vol. 4, No. 2

Blog Posts/Multimedia

Beating the Odds: Some School Boards Can Do It

A new study uses survey data from 900 school board members in 419 school districts.


The Pre-K Problem: A Great Investment or Passing the Buck?

What should we be talking about when we talk about universal pre-K?


Grit v. Knowledge: Round 2

Much of what we read in Adam Bryant’s “Corner Office” columns would certainly justify Paul Tough’s applause for persistence and grit. But though certainly gritty and persistent, all of the subjects of the column show signs of having a remarkable background in knowledge acquisition (e.g. professional parents, high SATs, college degrees) probably earned their success by putting their grit at the service of learning.


Paul Tough’s Grit Hypothesis Doesn’t Help Poor Kids

We can only hope that policymakers, teachers, and administrators understand the limitations of the grit hypothesis so we don’t disadvantage yet another generation of hard-working, gritty, and determined poor kids by not teaching them what they need to know to succeed.


The Common Core Conflation Syndrome: Standards & Curriculum

There is no Common Core curriculum, radical or otherwise.


The Quixotic Quest for Good Education through Integration

While there is no secret sauce for creating schools that close the achievement gap in poor urban neighborhoods, there is certainly a great deal that a school can do short of busing in white students.


“The Writing Revolution” May Just Be a Reading Revolution (with thanks to E.D. Hirsch)

A knockout story in The Atlantic by education journalist Peg Tyre describes the wonderful turnaround of a Staten Island high school that the turnarounders attribute to a writing program.


The Fear Factor: Merit Pay with a Punch

The new CTU contract will not have “phony” merit pay (differentiated pay) but will have the “real” thing (school autonomy).


The Strike—and the Stakes

The reason we are so transfixed by Chicago is that the deal being hammered out now will be a game-changer.


Reform v. Rights: The Windy City’s Teachers Walk Out

The walk-out may tell us more about the power of politics than about the issues facing our nation’s schools.


The Best Education for the Best is the Best Education for All

Shouldn’t every American citizen have a right to the best education we can deliver?


Catholic v. Charters: Where’s the God Gene?

A couple of reports last week reanimated the debate about what to do with Catholic schools, which have been hemorrhaging students for the last couple of decades.


The D-Word: Good News from New York, But…

Rigorous and consistent attention to academic discipline helps ensure a culture of respect where behavioral discipline is less necessary.


Teacher Unions: “Pigs at the Trough” or Victims of their Own Success?

We should surely understand how far the reform movement has gone in transforming public perception of teacher unions and their role in education, but we should also appreciate how big and scary the unions still are.


Profit and Loss, Public or Private: Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dee

Given that our public education system is failing too many children, why wouldn’t one consider doing something different? We should at least ask the right questions. Does the free market work? Why not run schools like a business? What’s wrong with profit?


Are the Teacher Unions on the Ropes? New Jersey Scores a Big One for Tenure Reform

This week Chris Christie signed legislation that creates a new teacher-rating scheme and also streamlines the process for firing both teachers and administrators.


Nothing to Lose: Turn Failing Schools Over to CMOs

It started as a fairly typical funding-equity lawsuit and ended with a startling Wall Street Journal headline, “Michigan City Outsources All of Its Schools.”


Poverty and Schools: Finally, Some Lights Go On

The pendulum might be swinging, ever-so-slightly, toward the believers (in school).


Social Mobility Starts and Ends in Schools

Schools can boost social mobility, but only if they value merit and knowledge


The Mobility Dilemma: Have We Lost Faith in the Power of Knowledge?

The terrible consequences of family breakdown are certainly upon us, but if this recent spate of teeth-gnashing over the growing social mobility gap is any indication of where the country is, I’d say the country still doesn’t get it.


The End of Governance Geography: Hess and Meeks Point the Way to the Promised Land

Of the papers presented at Fordham’s Rethinking Education Governance for the 21st Century, one that had particular resonance for me was Rick Hess and Olivia Meeks’s analysis of the school district dilemma.


Five Lessons from Five Years on the School Board

At some low point in my tenure on the board of education in my small school district, a friend advised, “Don’t worry. You are like gravity. They always know that you are there.”


In Search of the Elusive Reform-Minded School-Board Member

It is the existential question of school board membership: Can you suggest improvement without appearing to criticize the current administration, the current system?


Teacher Evaluations in New York: A Compromise or a Cave-In?

To have gotten this far on the accountability track is good news. But we surely seem to be a long way from getting our children the kind of educational protection that even restaurant patrons receive—not a healthy illustration of our public priorities.


Getting Good Ideas to the Finish Line: Choice, Political Will, and a Coxswain

The good news is that we have two trends that are gaining ground on the monster that is our education system: a renewed appreciation for content and the new market mechanisms (i.e. choice) that incentivize innovation and renewal.


Big News in the Bayou State

Passing a set of historic reform bills last week, the Louisiana legislature handed Gov. Bobby Jindal and his new education chief, John White, the keys to reform city.


The Fight’s On: Rhee, Klein, and Moskowitz Team Up in New York

The three have formed a group that intends to raise $10 million annually for the next five years to lobby the New York State legislature to protect the reform initiatives launched by Klein and Michael Bloomberg in New York City and promote reform throughout the state.


Bush Saves Romney From Etch A Sketch Hell!

As was widely reported Jeb Bush endorsed Mitt Romney yesterday. The Times called it a “coveted endorsement”—and indeed it is, no matter how much fun Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich had at poor Eric Fehrnstrom’s expense.


The Race Card: Making Sense of the Duncan Discipline Report

The big news last week was the release of data by the U.S. Department of Education showing that, as the press release stated: “Minority students across America face harsher discipline, have less access to rigorous high school curricula, and are more often taught by lower-paid and less experienced teachers.”


Teacher Evaluation Data, Part 2: The Perfectionist Disease

In Part 1 of my New York City teacher evaluation commentary, I explained the judicial decision which determined that the public had a right to know how individual teachers were doing. Most tellingly, perhaps, was Judge Kern’s dismissal of the argument that flaws in the data mattered to her decision. Referring to a previous ruling […]


Teacher Evaluation Data, Part 1: The Public’s Right to Know

It is possible that in a different era, a court might very well have concluded that releasing teachers’ names was quite insane. But while this lower court decision (there are, in New York, several higher courts) will not prove to be a major marker in educational jurisprudence, it does show how far we have come in righting a long-listing ship.


The Conspiracy Theory in Search of a Conspiracy

What worries me about the reasoning of some of the anti-Common Corers is that they seem to confuse a popular national trend with nationalism


Education Is No Zero-Sum Game

The point of a liberal arts education—and I include math and science in that education—is to teach some eternal verities so that, when the surface world changes, as it tends to do, we have citizens that possess the most important skill of all: the ability to adapt.


The Poverty Myth Persists

Why have we given up on the idea that education can be the “great equalizer”? The answer, I believe, is that we have accepted the “materialistic fallacy.” We have taken results of our education ineptitudes—more poverty—and made them the cause of them.


Education Malfeasance: The “Reading to Learn” Myth

It is a shame that in 2012 educators continue to ignore the importance of background and domain-specific knowledge as the essence of reading—and of a good education.


Parent Power, Teacher Power, Local Power, and a Word from Michelle Rhee

In case you missed them, a few notable events from the last month (or so): An amazing story from Erik Robelen at Education Week begins… Overriding the governor’s veto, New Hampshire’s Republican-led legislature has enacted a new law that requires school districts to give parents the opportunity to seek alternatives to any course materials they […]


Scaling Up By Scaling Down

It is not so much that “reform has to go beyond charters” as it is that real reform must embrace choice—choice at the individual level.


Education Reform Comes Home: the state of the states

We shall see tomorrow night, but this is already looking to be the Year of the Education Governor. With NCLB being pummeled from left and right and Race to the Top in suspended inanimation, the feds seem unusually quiet, if not on the run.


King’s Message: A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

The best way to honor Martin Luther King would be to commit ourselves to delivering a rigorous, comprehensive, and, ultimately liberating education. Indeed, it would be the best way to let freedom ring for future generations.

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