Entries by Jamie Gass

More Information about the Memorials and Monuments

The Sacred Cod of Massachusetts, State House, Boston, MA Massasoit Statue, Plymouth, MA Pilgrim Monument, Provincetown, MA The Puritan, Springfield, MA Statue of Anne Hutchinson, State House, Boston The Salem Witch Trials Memorial, Salem, MA The Minute Man, Concord, MA James Otis, Jr. & Mercy Otis Warren, Barnstable/Cape Cod, MA The Boston Women’s Memorial, Commonwealth Ave., Boston Equestrian statue of Paul Revere, the North End, Boston John Adams, the Boston Athenæum, MA Statue of Alexander Hamilton, Commonwealth Ave., Boston The Whaleman Statue & Seamen’s Bethel Cenotaphs, New Bedford, MA Boston Irish Famine Memorial, Boston, MA Homage to Women, Lowell, MA Nathaniel Hawthorne Statue, Salem, MA Frederick Douglass, Faneuil Hall, Boston, MA Sojourner Truth Memorial Statue, Florence, MA Memorial to Robert […]

To Read or Not to Read Shakespeare? 12 Great Ways to Get to Know The Bard During COVID-19

With school closures impacting 50 million children across America, and a challenging transition to remote learning,  many parents are seeking supplementary material to enrich their children’s academic experience during COVID-19.  Fortunately, there is a wealth of information available to introduce children of all ages to, arguably, the greatest literary figure in the English-speaking world, William Shakespeare.

Education business ruled by teachers’ unions truly terrifying

This op-ed originally appeared in The Worcester Telegram & Gazette and The Berkshire Eagle on October 29, 2019. By Ken Campbell and Jamie Gass “The dominant spirit… that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air…,” reads “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” Washington Irving’s early-19th-century folktale, “is the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon-ball.” Halloween is ideal for learning how Western culture has long used creepy ghosts and supernatural specters as literary devices to teach lessons that torment the living. Paranormal poltergeist stories may scare the wits out of people, but it’s the data around America’s $800 billion-a-year K-12 education business ruled by teachers’ […]

Dimming the state’s literary light

September marks Johnson’s 310th birthday. His A Dictionary of the English Language (1755) used 114,000 timeless quotations to help define 42,000 words, making it among the most famous dictionaries in human history.

Melville readies students for rough seas ahead

Read this op-ed in The Berkshire Eagle, The Salem News, and The Gloucester Daily Times. By Jamie Gass BOSTON — “For all his tattooings he was on the whole a clean, comely looking cannibal,” is how Herman Melville describes the heroic Polynesian harpooner Queequeg in his 1851 classic, “Moby-Dick.” “[T]he man’s a human being just as I am: he has just as much reason to fear me, as I have to be afraid of him.” Today (August 1) marks the bicentennial of Melville’s birthday. He was a self-educated, unorthodox literary genius, whose many family tragedies and disappointments kept him largely unnoticed during his lifetime. Melville’s key works include the short story, “Bartleby, the Scrivener” (1853); a novel, “The Confidence-Man” (1857); […]

The Supreme Court Is Set To Decide Whether Religious Kids Are Allowed A Good Education

Thanks to Kendra Espinoza, a determined Montana mom, the U.S. Supreme Court will take up and hopefully strike down the infamous legacy of state Know-Nothing and Blaine amendments. From Massachusetts to Michigan and across the nation, this case has the potential to overturn a century and a half of state constitutional discrimination against religious families and their quest for the most suitable and effective education for their children.

The Next Chapter of Education Funding in Massachusetts

Efforts to update the Commonwealth’s K-12 education funding formula should focus on narrowing the gap between affluent and low-income school districts and be accompanied by reforms designed to improve student outcomes and enhance accountability.

Denying students the opportunity to study classic works of literature leads to a culture of mediocrity

This op-ed appeared in The Springfield Republican and The Lowell Sun “Arise, O prophet, see and hear, be filled with My will, go forth over land and sea, and set the hearts of men on fire with your Word.” -Alexander Pushkin, “The Prophet” (1828) June marks the 220th birthday of Pushkin, father of modern Russian literature and genius of early 19th-century Romantic poetry, fiction, and drama. Reflecting his profound spiritual depth, his universal poems capture the elusive Russian soul. All the greatest Russian writers, among the most powerful in the Western canon – Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Nabokov, and Solzhenitsyn – acknowledge Pushkin as their Shakespeare. We should, too. Pushkin’s masterpieces include epic fairy tales like Ruslan and Ludmila (1820), the poems “Ode to […]

To Keep Our Republic, American Students Must Study The French Revolution

By Jamie Gass and Will Fitzhugh This op-ed appeared in The Federalist, The Berkshire Eagle, and The Springfield Republican. The French Revolution began with optimistic Age of Enlightenment slogans about ‘Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité,’ before quickly degenerating into the darkened recesses of human nature. “In this period, the head and body of Monsieur Foulon are introduced in triumph, the head on a pike, the body dragged naked on the earth,” reads the diary of Gouverneur Morris, later the U.S. minister to France, after witnessing mob violence in 1789 Paris. “[T]his horrible exhibition is carried through the different streets… Gracious God! What a people!” May marks the French Revolution’s 230th anniversary. It began with optimistic Age of Enlightenment slogans about “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité,” before […]

How Massachusetts Showed the Way on Education Reform

By Jamie Gass & Charles Chieppo Read this op-ed in The American Conservative We are now nearly four decades beyond the publication of A Nation at Risk, a federal report that indicted the “rising tide of mediocrity” and initiated a well-deserved period of hand-wringing about K-12 public education in the United States. Massachusetts was the only state to respond to the call to create a school system that would be among the best in the world. Sadly, now even the Bay State is retreating from the policies that delivered its historic success. The landmark Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993, which was entirely state-led, pushed academic content and high standards over the Bush I and Clinton administrations’ agenda of K-12 […]

Guglielmo Marconi and the importance of innovation and choice in education

By Jamie Gass and Ze’ev Wurman May 1, 2019 This op-ed appeared in multiple regional news outlets including the Springfield Republican, MetroWest Daily News, the Lowell Sun, the Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise, the Patriot Ledger, and more. “I seemed to have a special… aptitude for mechanics, physics, and chemistry,” wrote the brilliant early 20th-century engineer, inventor, and founder of global communications Guglielmo Marconi, “which were not taught at the school I regularly attended.” April marks the 145th celebration of Marconi’s birth in Bologna, Italy, and this year is the 110th anniversary of his winning the Nobel Prize in Physics. He was the first person to systematically use radio waves to communicate over long distances, develop wireless telegraphy, and is considered […]

As we mark 100th anniversary of Solzhenitsyn’s birth, we appreciate importance of historical literacy

Read this op-ed in The Springfield Republican, The New Bedford Standard Times, The MetroWest Daily News, and The Daily Caller. “Harvard’s motto is ‘VERITAS’…” the Nobel Prize-winning Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said 40 years ago in his “A World Split Apart” commencement address. “[T]ruth eludes us as soon as our concentration begins to flag, all the while leaving the illusion that we are continuing to pursue it.” Solzhenitsyn would have turned 100 this month. His celebrated works One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962) and The Gulag Archipelago (1973) demolished the Soviet Union’s utopian folklore and made him the world’s greatest literary figure during the Cold War era. Read more in the Springfield Republican.

A Whale Of An Education Battle Rocks New Bedford

“[A] whale-ship was my Yale College and my Harvard,” reads Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby-Dick, which was famously inspired by New Bedford’s whaling industry. In an acrimonious plot straight from Melville, New Bedford’s mayor is fighting the expansion of a high-performing K-8 charter public school named Alma del Mar (“Soul of the Sea”), located in the Whaling City. Currently enrolling 440 students, Alma is seeking two new K-8 schools, which would serve 1,188 more pupils. This month, state officials will decide if Alma can move forward to a February final approval that would accommodate the hundreds of children on the school’s waitlist. Charter public schools are part of the historic 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act (MERA), which has made our students […]

Remember Poland’s Working-Class Revolt Against Communism

This op-ed appeared in The Springfield Republican, The Standard-Times of New Bedford, The Providence Journal, and The Federalist. “The fall of the Berlin Wall makes for nice pictures,” said Poland’s Lech Walesa, the charismatic Gdansk electrician who co-founded Solidarnosc (Solidarity), the first independent trade union behind the Iron Curtain. “But it all started in the shipyards.” Labor Day is a good time to remember Walesa, who turns 75 in September and 35 years ago won the Nobel Peace Prize. He’s probably the most important labor leader of our era. Together, Walesa, Solidarity workers, Western leaders, and Pope John Paul II defied Soviet totalitarianism in Poland, playing a decisive role in ending the Cold War and expanding human freedom. American students should […]

Reading great literature like ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ helps students become great readers

This op-ed appeared in The Daily Caller, The Berkshire Eagle, CommonWealth magazine, and The Lowell Sun. “Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget,” reads “The Count of Monte Cristo” by French novelist Alexandre Dumas, “that all human wisdom is contained in these two words — `Wait and hope.’” Tuesday marks the birthday of Monsieur Dumas, genius of 19th-century romantic historical fiction, whose other masterworks include “The Three Musketeers” (1844) and “The Man in the Iron Mask” (1847-50). A versatile writer, he also adapted E.T.A. Hoffmann’s scary story into a sweeter tale that became the basis for Peter Tchaikovsky’s immortal ballet, “The Nutcracker.” Dumas’s nearly 300 published volumes have been translated into 100 languages, ranking […]

Op-ed: Time is right to study Jefferson in our schools

By Jamie Gass and Will Fitzhugh “Students of reading, writing, and common arithmetick . . . Graecian, Roman, English, and American history . . .,” Thomas Jefferson advised about democratic education, “should be able to guard the sacred deposit of the rights and liberties of their fellow citizens.” Friday marks the 275th anniversary of Jefferson’s birthday. Given his world-changing achievements, this milestone is worthy of recognizing — and of being taught in our public schools. His contributions to the American civilization are incalculable; he was a revolutionary, statesman, diplomat, man-of-letters, scientist, architect, and apostle of liberty. Rather than forcing a titan like Jefferson to conform to our era’s often Lilliputian-style narcissism, we should study history by entering the past with […]

Op-ed: A Frankenstein’s monster attacks school literature

This op-ed appeared in The Springfield Republican, The Berkshire Eagle and The Daily Caller. BOSTON — “[N]othing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose,” wrote Mary Shelley, author of the classic horror story ‘Frankenstein’. “[A] point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.” The novel’s 200th anniversary this year is a fitting time to remember how Mrs. Shelley’s book has enlivened our understanding of human nature and modern science, even shaping popular culture and Halloween. Schoolchildren should know Mary Shelley’s name, the fact that her literary invention unleashed the science fiction genre, as well as her warnings about the perils of science run amok. Mary’s parents had been 18th-century English radicals. Her mother was the prominent, early […]