This Week at Pioneer

Election 2012 & the American Experiment” – What does this election mean for the future of our country?

Buy Your Better Government Competition Awards Dinner Tickets Today! Everyone has an opinion, but the keynote speaker at our upcoming Better Government Competition Awards Dinner, Michael Barone, is one of the country's top experts on the political landscape. He's a veteran of 20 political conventions, co-author of the Almanac of American Politics, and best-selling political historian. Come hear his analysis, while supporting the worthy cause of government reform. Get your tickets to our annual Better Government Competition Awards Dinner (9/24) today and share the link:

Back to School!

Pioneer's been one of the loudest voices in Massachusetts, and increasingly, across the country, on behalf of high-quality educational options for all schoolchildren. That means maintaining high academic standards in our public schools, and helping children stuck in failing district schools access better options, like charter schools.

High Standards: Join us for a breakfast forum on Sept. 19th, “Why Huck Finn Matters: Classic Literature in Schooling” featuring Pulitzer-winning Twain biographer Ron Powers (co-author, Flags of Our Fathers), Harvard's Jocelyn Chadwick, author of The Jim Dilemma: Reading Race in Huckleberry Finn, Mark Bauerlein, Emory Professor, and a distinguished panel of national education experts who will discuss the Common Core national education standards.     

Giving Families a Choice: This year we want to see the successes of the Boston charter schools exported to more communities throughout the state, like Lawrence, where the dropout rate is nearly 50%, and Brockton, where student performance is in the lowest 10th percentile in the state. Read Jim Stergios' op-ed in Sunday's Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, and read this Boston Globe article on the proposed new SABIS charter school in Brockton.

Comparing Your Town's Education Spending: Check out your local (like Somerville, Lexington, Framingham) for a great article on education spending, that draws on data from our new municipal finance utility. You can use our utility to select the metrics you want to compare, and the spreadsheet will find up to 15 communities with similar characteristics. Give it a try, and let us know what you think! 

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This Week at Pioneer

Sunset the Lawrence District School Monopoly As we head back to school, Pioneer's Jim Stergios takes a look at one of our most pressing challenges, Lawrence, where the state covers 99% of the $150m school budget. 

Did you know that, in Lawrence,  

  • One of two kids in the Lawrence Public School system do not cross the 12th grade finish line
  • Over 4,000 students are on the charter school waiting lists, unable to attend because of limits on the number of students allowed
  • The Receiver's plan to place charter operators in charge of district schools will only likely help 1,000 out of 13,000 total students

But there is a way to help these kids now – read about it in Jim Stergios' blog

Jim's also been busy fighting across the country, along with Jamie Gass, against the Common Core national education standards and federal overreach. Latest stop: Utah, where, testifying before the state legislature, “Stergios criticized the standards as “mediocre,” saying they will require English teachers to cut back on literature in favor of works such as “federal bank reports” and computer manuals. He also criticized them for waiting until high school to teach Algebra I.” Read the Salt Lake Tribune story or listen to audio of Jim's testimony here at the 111 min. mark. has been doing a fantastic job of promoting our newly released Municipal Guide & Utility as part of a series on Per Capita Education Spending to help start local conversations about how their communities are spending taxpayer dollars. Read about Newton, Arlington, Reading and North Reading, and Medford, so far! Read the comments, which make interesting points – find out how your own town compares, and join the conversation!

National political columnist Michael Barone is headlining our 2012 Better Government Competition Awards Dinner, and we want you to be there! Click here to find out all the details, and buy your ticket today!

Pioneer's Josh Archambault told the Worcester Business Journal that Massachusetts' new health care law won't save money because it fails to engage consumers. And the Boston Globe reported a 2nd quarter  earnings plunge for health insurers. “Josh Archambault warned of layoffs at health plans if their businesses deteriorate. “We’re in a situation where state and federal governments are dictating to the insurers what the market should be. If this trend continues and health care utilization rises, whether they’ll be able to make money is up for grabs.””

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This Week at Pioneer

Are you a member of your town finance committee or board of selectmen? Running for local office? Buying or selling a home? Are you a home owner who is interested in how your town is spending your thousands of dollars in annual tax money? Just a good citizen interested in more efficient government at the local level?

We have a great new resource for you: The Guide to Sound Fiscal Management for Municipalities (click picture below to download): 

The Guide to Sound Fiscal Management for Muncipalities This Guide is chock full of helpful information so you can analyze your community’s spending across a variety of categories using available data on schools, public safety, local revenues, and property taxes, debt service, and other areas.

We strongly recommend that you use it with our new excel-based utility that lets you select a specific town or city, then scroll through a series of tabs to see how it compares to up to 15 similar communities in terms of spending priorities.

Why do some towns spend so much more of their budgets than others on public works, general government services, and debt service? Maybe there's an easy explanation unique to certain communities – but maybe there's an opportunity for cost-savings! Please check it out, visit the website, and give us your feedback so we can improve on it.

Don't want to download the Guide? Read it on ScribD


Better Government Competition Awards Ceremony

Every year, Pioneer holds the Better Government Competition awards ceremony to recognize the best proposals to improve state and local government services. This year's event is on Sept. 24th. Read about the winning proposal and runners up here. We are thrilled to present keynote speaker Michael Barone, national political commentator, who will discuss the meaning of Election 2012 for the future of the American Experiment. What's at stake in this election? Find out from one of the country's most respected political analysts. Support government reform and Pioneer Institute – buy your ticket today!  

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National commentator, best-selling author to address Pioneer Institute supporters at annual ceremony on September 24th

Pioneer Institute has been a driving force in the movement to reform government in Massachusetts and beyond, through programs like the Better Government Competition and public forums like the one we recently held on the Lawrence Public Schools, and so much analysis on health care, transparency, economic development, the state budget, etc. Show your support for our important work: Purchase your tickets today, download the full invitation, and view sponsorship opportunities. Read our press release here.

“Michael Barone is one of the country’s most informed and highly considered political observers,” said Pioneer Executive Director Jim Stergios. “As the presidential election approaches, he combines an unparalleled knowledge of campaigns and political trends with expertise in policy and history.”

Barone is senior political analyst at The Washington Examiner, a Fox News contributor, and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics, which is published biennially by National Journal. He has held senior positions with U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Post, and Reader’s Digest, and is the author of numerous books on American politics and history, including Hard America, Soft America: Competition vs. Coddling and the Competition for the Nation's Future (Crown Forum, May 2004).

Pioneer Health Care Policy Director Josh Archambault has been everywhere this week, offering his take the health care payment reform bill that the Governor signed this week. Check out our infographic and some of the recent coverage Josh has received:

Josh talks to NECN about the staggering amount of power this health care law gives future state bureaucrats

CBS Video/Keller @ Large: Watch Josh vs. Lynn Rep. Steve Walsh on New Health Care Law's Cost & Bureaucracy

Todd Feinburg talked with Josh on WRKO last week


Boston Globe:


Jim Stergios focuses on school accountability this week in his Rock the Schoolhouse blog. He writes that we should do Lawrence school kids justice by giving them & their families clear goals in this latest district reform effort:

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The Massachusetts Legislature passed what has been called “Health Reform 2.0” this week, but as we've argued, it is anything but. Read Pioneer's full statement here, and more commentary by our health care policy director, Josh Archambault, in Politico, Reuters, Associated Press, Boston Globe, and Boston Herald, to name a few.

Read more about the Governor's latest education task force, “Integrating College and Career Readiness” (ICCR), which aims to close achievement gaps by lowering academic expectations, write Jamie Gass and Charlie Chieppo in the MetroWest Daily News

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