Josh Archambault, Pioneer’s Health Care Director, has a Boston Herald op-ed today:
“Mass. leads with wrong example”
This week marked the fifth anniversary of health reform in Massachusetts. With the law sure to be campaign fodder in the upcoming presidential race, politicos will present only a caricature of the law’s impact. For liberals it inspired national reform, for conservatives it is the new litmus test for candidates.
In Massachusetts, it is simply an experiment – one that we are still learning from. Without a record of success, it should never have been the framework for federal legislation.
Steve Poftak, Pioneer’s Research Director, served on a State House panel to review the state’s policy of selectively granting tax incentives to business. Boston Globe columnist Renee Loth noted (“Mass. dangles carrots too quickly,” April 9):
The panelists agreed across the ideological board that the state has been delinquent in examining whether the incentives are having the desired effect: Are jobs being saved or created; are the industries targeted for special treatment a good bet for the Massachusetts economy?
“We don’t really know what’s working,” said Steve Poftak of the conservative Pioneer Institute. “It’s almost impossible to know” whether the benefits exceed the costs, said Noah Berger of the liberal Massachusetts Budget and Policy Institute.
Tantasqua Showdown: Looks like the School Committee in Tantasqua is not too thrilled with the state’s adoption of national standards. According to the Worcester Telegram and Gazette (“Official defends US Core,” April 7), committee members grilled MA Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester on the decision to replace MCAS with a national assessment. Chester’s perplexing response: “It’s sort of like Tantasqua doesn’t want to teach kids to read or write.”
Early in last night’s presentation, school committee member James A. Cooke asked the commissioner if the state had to adopt the Common Core to be eligible to receive “Race to the Top” money. School committee member Michael J. Valanzola asked if the Legislature ever voted on the Common Core recommendation. In both cases, Mr. Chester answered, “No.”
By adopting a “one-size-fits-all policy” for education, Mr. Valanzola asked if Massachusetts is “dumbing down” its standards. Mr. Chester said that not only is Massachusetts not “dumbing down” its standards but, in many ways, it is improving them.
Jamie Gass, director, Center for School Reform at Pioneer Institute, Boston, said his institute measured Common Core against the current standards in four states including Massachusetts and, in every case, Common Core had “lower quality” standards. Furthermore, Mr. Gass said, all three of the evaluations Mr. Chester used to make his decision were paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the same group that paid for the standards.
“What are you teaching students about objectivity, about independence, when the people who paid for the development of the standards are also paying for the evaluation of the standards?” Mr. Gass asked.
“Doesn’t really sound like a question,” Mr. Chester responded. “So Jamie, who paid the teachers in Massachusetts who did the assessment for us? They weren’t paid? They volunteered?”
Afterward, Mr. Cooke said the commissioner left him with more questions than answers. Mr. Valanzola said the presentation solidified his negative views of Common Core.
As part of Pioneer’s video series on Vocational-Technical schools, this week we are highlighting their success at partnering with the business community. Watch the first three clips here: http://www.pioneerinstitute.or…
Jim Stergios has posted two Boston.com blogs on this topic: http://boston.com/community/bl…
Building off my post two days ago, I think there is a public debate to be had about how we learn from the tremendous progress made in our regional vocational-technical schools (which are managed at the school level and not embedded within a larger district). That debate should be about how we bring their same impressive gains to our larger urban school districts. The best sign of success is a waiting list of students trying to get in. And, like charters and METCO, virtually all regional voc-tech schools (VTEs) in the Commonwealth have waiting lists for admissions and increasing demand.
Why are the regional VTEs working so well? Much of the success is based on the fact that the regional VTEs built a focused effort around the standards-based reforms enacted as part of the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act. But there’s more to it than that, and it’s best to hear it directly fropm the people who made it happen. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing their own words on why they have had success working with businesses, preventing dropouts, offering parental choice, and serving significant special needs populations.
Pioneer is pleased to announce MuniShare, our new municipal report contest! As part of our annual Better Government Competition, we are offering two $3,000 awards to municipalities for best reports on an issue that fellow city and town governments might face. We are looking for any type of report: public opinion surveys, departmental studies, environmental audits, department-specific or municipal-wide. Click here for detailed guidelines:
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