Entries by Editorial Staff

Study: Ed Reform Has Improved Academic Performance and Equity

Over the past 30 years, rigorous standards, assessments, and accountability for outcomes have propelled Massachusetts public schools to become the nation’s best. Taking away the high-stakes component of MCAS would weaken the accountability system and lead stakeholders to de-emphasize the assessment data that drives high-quality instruction, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

UK U-Warwick’s Benjamin Smith on Mexico’s Cartels & Drug Trade

Prof. Benjamin Smith, author of The Dope: The Real History of the Mexican Drug Trade, provides insights into various aspects of the Mexican drug trade, including its historical context and the evolution of illicit drug products over time. He discusses key cartels and their methods, the impact of the drug trade on Mexico’s murder rates, the immense financial scale of the trade, its effect on Mexico and the U.S., and the challenges law enforcement face in combating it. Smith explores the relationship among Mexican cartels, other foreign countries, and the illicit drug market in the U.S.

DFER-MA’s Mary Tamer on MCAS & Teacher Strikes

Mary Tamer focuses on the historic impact of the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act on the commonwealth’s students’ high achievement on national and international measures. She explores the politics of the Massachusetts Teachers Association advocating against the MCAS test as a graduation requirement. In closing, Ms. Tamer also discusses the rise of teacher strikes and their implications for education reform in the Bay State.

Baystate Budget Blues: Declining Revenue Causes Concern

Joe Selvaggi engages in a conversation with Pioneer Institute’s Eileen McAnneny, Senior Fellow for Economic Opportunity, to analyze the status of the 2024 budget. They compare actual revenue and spending with pre-July 1 estimates, investigating potential reasons for any surpluses or shortfalls. They also dive into policy implications for legislators as they approach fiscal 2025.

U-TN’s Robert Norrell on Booker T. Washington & Voc-Tech

Prof. Robert Norrell explores Booker T. Washington’s early life in slavery, his transformative leadership at Tuskegee Institute amidst Jim Crow racism, and his advocacy for vocational education as a means for racial uplift. He also discusses Washington’s 1901 autobiography, Up From Slavery; his controversial White House dinner with President Theodore Roosevelt; and his often overlooked legacy following the activism of the 1960s Civil Rights era.

Pioneer Statement on Continuing Slide in Massachusetts’ Revenue

The Commonwealth’s tax collections continue to slide, totaling $3.594 billion in January, $268 million below what the state collected in January 2023, and short of the revised benchmark by $263 million. Massachusetts state government must live within its means by reducing FY2025 spending. The days of fiscal surpluses, unprecedented increases in year-over-year spending, and flowing federal aid have come to an end.

Pioneer Statement on Decline in State Revenues

The Commonwealth’s finances have stumbled hard in recent months, and based on a report the Department of Revenue (DOR) sent to the Legislature in January, the trend shows no signs of easing. Massachusetts needs a renewed emphasis on fiscal discipline and pro-growth policies to make the state economically competitive again.

BC’s Dr. Matthias von Davier on TIMSS & K-12 Global STEM

Dr. von Davier explores his educational background and its influence on directing TIMSS & PIRLS, shedding light on psychometrics and standardized testing. He discusses the shift in education policy’s focus, the global education data landscape, and the pandemic’s effects on K-12 education around the world. Dr. von Davier addresses the alarming decline in U.S. educational performance, emphasizing the urgency to bridge achievement gaps. Drawing from international experiences, he highlights global examples for American policymakers from higher-performing countries, emphasizing the crucial links between education, skills, and innovation on the global economy.

U.S. Manufacturing Health: Does the U.S. Need an Industrial Policy?

Scott Lincicome from the Cato Institute discusses the U.S. manufacturing industry, international trade, and industrial policy. He dispels the myth of manufacturing decline, highlighting sector evolution and productivity. The conversation moves to industrial policy, emphasizing the need for targeted protection and cautioning against broad subsidization due to potential inefficiencies.

ExcelinEd’s Dr. Cara Candal on National School Choice Week

Dr. Candal delves into the evolving landscape of K-12 education in the U.S., examining the expansion of private school choice programs post- U.S. Supreme Court decisions, changing political dynamics around charter schools, strategies of the national school choice movement in low-performing states, the role of parent-driven models during the pandemic, the significance of voc-tech education, and addressing underperformance and achievement gaps.

Telehealth Progress Slowed in 2023

A new report by Cicero Institute, Pioneer Institute, and Reason Foundation reveals worrying stagnation in state-level telehealth expansion efforts in 2023, with only a few exceptions. Progress made during the pandemic is being lost even as provider shortages worsen, raising concerns about patients’ access to care.

NYT Bestseller Jonathan Eig on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jonathan Eig delves into MLK’s early spiritual leadership, the influence of Langston Hughes on his speeches, his relationship with his wife, Coretta Scott King, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s challenges. He discusses historic events in Birmingham, Alabama, the March on Washington, MLK’s struggles in Chicago, the Poor People’s Campaign, and the events leading to his assassination in 1968. Eig underscores the multifaceted aspects of MLK’s life and provides insights on drawing lessons for contemporary challenges in race relations and leadership.

Olympic Track Medalist Gabby Thomas

Gabby Thomas, Pioneer Valley native, Harvard alum in neurobiology, and Olympic sprinter, won bronze and silver in Tokyo, she also pursued a master’s in epidemiology. She shares her journey excelling both in academics and athletics.

T.J. Stiles on Cornelius Vanderbilt & American Business

T.J. Stiles delves into the life of America’s first tycoon, Cornelius Vanderbilt, exploring his rise to historic wealth in steamboats, shipping, and railroads. He discusses Vanderbilt’s legal battles, philanthropy, and enduring legacy, exploring his business competitiveness and wide impact on 19th-century America’s economy.

Emily Hanford on Reading Science & K-12 Literacy

Emily Hanford, host of the hit podcast Sold a Story: How Teaching Kids to Read Went So Wrong, discusses the science of reading, the long whole language v. phonics debate, the impact of the digital age on learning, and the importance of academic background knowledge for children becoming better readers.

Francine Klagsbrun on Golda Meir’s Leadership and the State of Israel

This week on The Learning Curve, Francine Klagsbrun, author of “Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel,” discusses the remarkable life and legacy of the woman who left Kiev as a child, grew up in Milwaukee, emigrated to Mandatory Palestine, was a signatory to the declaration of independence for the state of Israel, and rose to become that nation’s fourth prime minister.

Busting Big Business: Antitrust Comes for Google and Big Sandwich

Joe Selvaggi talks with Dr. Brian Albrecht, an economists with the International Center for Law and Economics. They separate fact from fiction when it comes to the public’s and politicians’ concerns over allegedly anti-consumer practices of big business and discuss when antitrust action by the federal government is justified.

Navigating Labor Shortages: The Role of Immigrants and the Potential of Schedule A

Milliken underscores the current unprecedented combination of low unemployment and high job openings, particularly in sectors like hospitality, healthcare, and education. She addresses the vital role immigrants play in the workforce, and advocates for leveraging Schedule A, a regulation that expedites the green card process for occupations facing high labor demand.

Hillsdale’s Dr. Kathleen O’Toole on K-12 Classical Education

Dr. O’Toole explores Hillsdale’s mission and its impact on K-12 education, delving into classical education, Greco-Roman ideals, Enlightenment principles, and the college’s efforts to enhance education. She discusses the challenges faced in exporting Hillsdale’s model to K-12 public schooling, critiques of American education, and the role of the liberal arts in fostering academic unity amidst societal divisions.

Supreme Oral Arguments: Do Gun Rights Rest on Responsible Behavior

Joe Selvaggi engages in a conversation with constitutional scholar Attorney Clark Neily to explore the oral arguments presented in the US Supreme Court case USA v Rahimi. The discussion delves into the intricate examination of behavioral history and the legal processes involved in restricting an individual from owning a firearm.