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We have an ambitious agenda, including (but not limited to):
> high-quality academic standards and more school choice;
> creating jobs and making Massachusetts more business friendly;
> reforming Massachusetts’ health care system.
For this kick-off report, I have four big updates for you on education, health care, better government, and a welcome addition to the Pioneer team.
1. Education: Today, on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, Pioneer is hosting an engaging event on Catholic education in Massachusetts, and expanding school choice. Our research, just released today (“Be Not Afraid”: A History of Catholic Schooling in Massachusetts) http://www.pioneerinstitute.or… shows that Catholic education is a proven success. Student performance is higher in Archdiocese of Boston schools than state and national averages, but the schools face financial challenges. The paper offers two key recommendations to Massachusetts lawmakers that would help more families benefit from the high-quality, low-cost learning environment that Catholic schools provide:
> Repeal the Know-Nothing Amendments, which are legal barriers preventing more kids from attending private school – they date back to the 1800s and anti-Irish bigotry, and they continue largely because of political reasons.
> Enact legislation to authorize tax credits to enable low-income students to attend private schools. Numerous states, including Rhode Island, have implemented programs successfully, and a coalition of religious and policy leaders are working to adopt a program here in Massachusetts.
Check out this article published in this Sunday’s edition of the Boston Herald (“Tax Credits Pushed for Private School Families”) http://www.bostonherald.com/ne… and this link, http://www.mediafire.com/?gfhi… to listen to Jamie Gass, Pioneer’s Director of the Center for School Reform, and Raymond Flynn, former Ambassador to the Vatican, discuss this topic on Dan Rea’s WBZ radio show. They are scheduled to go on Tom & Todd this Friday, so stay tuned! And we are expecting to place op-eds in several regional newspapers, as well.
2. Health Care Initiative: Last Wednesday, Pioneer held its annual Hewitt Health Care Lecture. This was our most well-attended and engaging Hewitt event to date, featuring a debate between two high-profile health care policy experts, Dr. Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Dr. Jonathan Gruber, and moderated by Charlie Baker. You can read more about the speakers and view a clip of highlights here: http://www.pioneerinstitute.or…
At this event, we released our latest health care paper, Fixing the Massachusetts Health Exchange, which offers seven recommendations for how to reform the Massachusetts Connector so that it attracts more non-subsidized enrollees. You can read the paper here:
3. Enter Pioneer’s 20th annual Better Government Competition by April 4th for your chance to win $10,000! Click here for the guidelines (and don’t let this year’s theme intimidate you): http://www.pioneerinstitute.or…
If you have an idea for a proposal but you’re not sure whether to submit it, give us a call or email our BGC director Shawni Littlehale:
Tel.: 617-723-2277 ext. 207
4. Last but definitely not least, please join us in welcoming Erin Blake as our new Development Director. Some of you know Erin from her previous (highly successful) fundraising experiences, and you may be hearing from her soon! You can read her bio here: http://www.pioneerinstitute.or…
5. Pioneer Executive Director Jim Stergios was on Chronicle Monday night to discuss unions, collective bargaining, and the implications of Wisconsin’s new law for Massachusetts.
During his interview with Anthony Everett, Jim distinguished between collective bargaining on salaries and health care benefits, urging public employees to transition to the state’s Group Insurance Commission to reduce costs. “Health care benefits after you retire up until the time you die, where we haven’t even set aside any money for that at the state level or at the local level, is impossible,” Jim said.
Here’s the link to watch a clip (Jim appears at 3:20):
Before the show aired, Jim debated Paul Toner, President of the Massachusetts Teachers Union, at a Northeastern University forum as part of an education course taught by former State Senate President Thomas Birmingham, co-author of the landmark 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act (MERA).
Over the past few weeks, Jim has been hitting the airwaves to offer analysis on the collective bargaining showdown in Wisconsin, and the potential savings from a reform effort here in the Bay State. WBUR’s Bob Oakes hosted a debate between Pioneer’s Executive Director Jim Stergios and the MTA’s Paul Toner. Here’s that link:
“Wisconsin has hit a nerve because in places like Massachusetts, like Wisconsin, we’re broke. The Governor’s budget depends on pushing out billions of dollars in pension payments to 2040, onto our kids,” Jim said.