This Week at Pioneer

Massachusetts is home to one of the most closely watched Senate races in the country.

But do Bay State students understand what the U.S. Senate is, or why this election is so important?

Read Pioneer's op-eds here and here. 

Time to Get Real About Our Pension Liabilities

Across the country, states are confronting the massive problem of unfunded pension liabilities. Massachusetts is no exception, and is masking the true cost by relying on an unrealistically high return rate assumption for its pension fund investments. Read our new research: The Fiscal Implications of Massachusetts Retirement Boards' Investment Returns, the press release, and this Boston Globe article on the report.

Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews wrote about our recent report showing that Common Core national education standards drastically reduce the amount of literature taught in K-12 classrooms. Read it here

Please help us spread the word about a great, PAID fellowship opportunity in education policy, for spring/summer 2013. Application deadline: Nov. 30, 2012! Details:

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This Week at Pioneer

A123 becomes latest 'green energy' government-backed start-up failure: Pioneer's Jim Stergios talks to NECN's Peter Howe about car battery company A123's bankruptcy filing and the grants the company received in excess of $250 million from the federal and state government: “The government is not good at picking winners and losers, and it's not working for Massachusetts.”

Last week, we released new research estimating the additional expenses associated with the Affordable Care Act's so-called “Cadillac tax.” Though targeted at high-cost insurance plans, it turns out the controversial provision will affect well over 50% of workers in Massachusetts, across all income levels. Read the full brief, see our op-ed here and here for a summary, and some press coverage hereherehere, and here.

Read our Boston Herald op-ed calling for the Mass. Board of Education to do what's best for the families in Brockton, put politics aside, and allow the SABIS for-profit charter school management company to open a school there.  

Jim Stergios writes, in this Sunday's Eagle Tribune, “It’s gut-check time” in the Lawrence Public Schools. “We should not continue to subsidize schools in which half the students drop out and many go on to engage in behaviors that will require future subsidies.” Read it here. Read more of Jim's thoughts on the Lawrence school district in this issue of CommonWealth magazine.

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Big Cadillac Tax Ahead for Massachusetts' Middle Class


A new Pioneer Institute brief estimates that the federal health care law's insurance excise tax provision, or “Cadillac tax,” originally targeted at high-cost insurance plans, will affect well over 50% of Massachusetts employees. For a breakdown of the tens of thousands in projected additional costs for a small business employee, a police officer, and a teacher over the ten years after the tax goes into effect, visit our website or read the brief. You can also read this great Boston Herald editorial on the report.   

Read Josh Archambault and Jim Stergios' op-ed in the MetroWest Daily News on on two examples – one good, one not so good – of big healthcare policy changes driven by the Bay State. 

In education, be sure to check out Mary Z. Connaughton's new contribution to WBUR's Cognoscenti blog, “Hello Common Core, Goodbye Huck Finn.” 

Pioneer held a school choice event on Oct. 9th focusing on for-profit charter schools, with former Mass. Board of Education Chairman Jim Peyser, the MTA's Kathie Skinner, former superintendents Joe McCleary and Basan Nembirkow, and a great keynote speaker, noted author, James Tooley. This event highlighted the success of the SABIS charter school model in Springfield and Holyoke, and  the need for more school choice options in Massachusetts, especially in our older, industrialized cities.  

We are accepting applications for the 2013 Ruth and Lovett Peters Fellowship in Education Policy, which carries a stipend. The application deadline is November 30th, 2012. Please click the link for more details and help us spread the word about this great opportunity!  

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Gov. Romney Says NO to Common CoreGovernor Romney Says NO Federal Support for Common Core National Education Standards:

I don't subscribe to the idea of the federal government trying to push a common core on various states.  It's one thing to put it out as a model and let people adopt it as they will, but to financially reward states based upon accepting the federal government's idea of a curriculum, I think, is a mistake. And the reason I say that is that there may be a time when the government has an agenda that it wants to promote.” 

Just a few weeks ago, we held an event on Common Core and released new research showing that it reduces the amount of classic literature read in public school classrooms by 50%. Read the research paper, some coverage and here, and our op-eds here, here, here, and here. Watch the event videos here and here.

In Case Study-When Politics Influences Policy: Liberal Health Wonks from Mass, Josh Archambault takes on a trifecta of liberal health policy wonks– Jon Gruber, Stuart Altman and John McDonough-who just released a report that boosts ObamaCare, and critiques “RomneyCandidateCare,” but based on seriously flawed assumptions. 

For a more constructive means of addressing our health care cost crisis, read this op-ed and blog post in the Providence Journal, by Josh and Jim Stergios, on the winning entry of our Better Government Competition, a proposal to integrate care for those eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, called “duals.” In January, under an agreement with the federal government, the state will integrate entitlement care for 110,000 of Massachusetts' 270,000 duals. There is solid evidence that this will save money and improve care for these high-cost patients. Watch this video clip of BGC co-winner Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute, discussing this proposal. 

Read Jim Stergios' remembrance of John Silber, “An energetic, focused educational leader who was willing to do what it took to shake up the education establishment and bureaucracy.”

Join us on Tuesday, Oct. 9th, for what should be a lively debate on the topic of for-profit school management. Speakers include: James Tooley, author of From Village School to Global Brand: Changing the World through Education; Jim Peyser, former Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Education, and Partner at NewSchools Venture Fund; Basan Nembirkow, former Superintendent of the Brockton Public Schools; and Kathleen Skinner, Director of the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) Center for Education Policy and Practice. Register here.

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