Peter Cookson’s knowledge of schools and children’s learning needs comes from a lifetime of teaching, researching, and working to improve the quality of education for all children. His first job after college was as a case worker for the New York City Department of Social Services. His days were spent visiting the homes of the city’s most disadvantaged citizens. It is to these families, especially the children, that he owes a life’s commitment to the cause of educational justice.
Peter went on to teach social studies at a large rural public school and history and Latin at a private day school. He returned to NYU to receive a Ph.D. in the Sociology of Education and continued on with a postgraduate certificate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an M.A. from the Yale Divinity School.
He has taught and held leadership positions at several leading colleges and universities, including Teachers College, Columbia University, where he currently teaches the Sociology of Urban Education. He also currently works with schools around the country as the founder of a Washington, D.C. based consulting firm, Ideas without Borders.
Throughout his career he has written, lectured, debated, and researched extensively on the democratic importance of equality of educational opportunity, 21st century learning, and educational innovation. Some of his works include Preparing for Power: America’s Elite Boarding Schools, co-authored with Caroline Hodges Persell (1985); School Choice and the Struggle for the Soul of American Education (1994); Expect Miracles: Charter Schools and the Politics of Hope and Despair, co-authored with Kristina Berger (2002); and his latest book, Sacred Trust: A Children’s Education Bill of Rights (2011). He is completing another book to be published in 2012, The Great Unequalizer: Class and American Education.
Peter’s wife, Susan, worked for many years as a family therapist and is now a professional artist. They have two children and four grandchildren.