Entries by Pioneer Institute

Pioneer Institute Statement on the Commonwealth’s Discontinuance of the COVID-19 Weekly Public Health Report

Useful information about COVID cases or deaths at individual homes has become less available at a time when cases are increasing again, even among vaccinated residents. Pioneer urges Massachusetts to immediately reinstate the so-called Weekly Report, which contains cases and deaths inside individual nursing homes.

Public Statement on Implementation of the Charitable Giving Deduction

Despite being awash in cash, the state Legislature just overrode Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto of a provision to delay by yet another year a tax deduction for charitable donations. Rep. Mark Cusack, House chair of the Joint Committee on Revenue, said “it doesn’t mean no, just not now.” If not now, when?

NEW: MassWatch IRS Data Discovery Tool

If you want a window into taxation, to learn where Massachusetts residents move to and where new residents are coming from, Pioneer Institute has an innovative research tool for you. With Pioneer’s new Mass IRS Data Discovery Tool, you can now compare state-to-state or year-to-year tax data without downloading up to 2,000 IRS files in many different, cumbersome formats.

On the Governor’s Commission on the Future of Transportation

Pioneer Institute is grateful for the opportunity to share brief thoughts on the work of the Governor’s Commission on the Future of Transportation. Our comments are focused on four issues: (1) governance, (2) budgeting and operations, (3) the role of public transportation at a time of rapid private market transformation, and (4) the need to set increasing ridership as the top strategic transit goal.

Pioneer Institute Statement on MBAE PARCC/MCAS Study

The Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) continues its advocacy for Common Core and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a federally funded testing consortium, with the release of a study concluding that Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) performance is not an indicator of preparedness for higher education success.

A Challenge to Economic Freedom: Declining Labor Participation

The fact is that the unemployment rate doesn’t tell the whole story. Strictly defined as the percentage of the population who are out of work and actively seeking employment, this metric provides a very narrow lens through which to evaluate labor market performance. A look at labor participation rates — the labor force as a percentage of the civilian non-institutional population — helps paint a more accurate picture.

Claims and Facts about Common Core

Successful removal of the Common Core State Standards requires parents, educators, policymakers, and other stakeholders to have facts about what the standards are and what they are not. The following Claims and Facts address Common Core myths about the development, intent, content, and implementation of the standards.

One-Page Primer on Common Core: Quality

When President Obama unveiled his “Race to the Top” (RttT) initiative in 2009, the idea was to award $4.35 billion in federal grant money to states to replicate policies that boosted student achievement. That quickly changed and the federal money was instead used to persuade states to adopt administration-backed nationalized K-12 English and math standards and tests.

Lessons for Education Policy Makers

I’ve known E.D. Hirsch for some years, having spoken on the same programs with him on a number of occasions. I have the greatest respect for Professor Hirsch’s work and am happy to consider him a friend. Professor Hirsch is the author of several books including the seminal work Cultural Literacy and most recently, The Making of Americans: Democracy and Our Schools, where he makes the case that a paramount goal of American public education is to produce sentient human beings capable of participating as intelligent citizens in a democracy.

Dumping the Know-Nothing Amendments

I’m pleased to be here this morning. I’d like to thank Pioneer Institute for hosting this event, as well as the co-sponsors, including the Parents Alliance for Catholic Education, the Becket Fund, the Black Alliance for Educational,Options, and Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance.

Contracting for Performance

The results of this study show that factory model contracts are more likely to be found in the Commonwealth’s lowest-performing school districts, many of which serve disproportionate numbers of poor and minority students. This policy brief concludes with six recommendations for actions that school districts can take to ensure that teacher collective bargaining contracts in the state of Massachusetts become better aligned with the professional model.

Keep Moving: Transportation Reforms Beyond Revenues

Massachusetts has seen dramatic changes in the transportation landscape over the last two years. Major reforms have been enacted to restructure how transportation assets are managed and bring efficiencies to the system. With these major changes, many observers view transportation reform as ‘done’ and much of the attention to transportation reform has ebbed away. To keep the conversation moving, Pioneer and the Center for Strategic Studies at the College of Business at Northeastern University sponsored a forum in May of2010 to bring together some of the innovators in transportation strategic thinking.

Why MTEL, Not PRAXIS, Will Maintain Teacher Quality

The tests Massachusetts uses for licensing teachers, the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL), have been developed for the state by the Evaluation Systems group of Pearson (ESP) under continuously renewed contracts with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Prospective teachers in Massachusetts must take a reading and writing skills test as well as a test of their subject-area knowledge.

A Step Backwards: An Analysis of the 21st Century Skills Task Force Report

The purpose of this policy brief is to help DESE set priorities for implementation of the task force’s recommendations. It outlines areas where Pioneer believes the task force has crafted useful recommendations and suggests how they might be implemented. It also calls attention to recommendations that we believe are mistaken in their emphasis on skills and pedagogy over academic content, and display a lack of practicality and knowledge of both state policy and local, district-level realities.

CPOE Initiative

The combined use of limited, or selective, provider networks and a defined contribution strategy presents an immediate opportunity for government entities and employer groups to achieve significant and sustainable health insurance savings and reduce medical cost trends, while maintaining coverage levels and quality of care. This solution illustrates the impact of changes in consumer behavior that occur as a result of economic conditions and opportunities.

Health Insurance Cost Control

The combined use of limited, or selective, provider networks and a defined contribution strategy presents an immediate opportunity for government entities and employer groups to achieve significant and sustainable health insurance savings and reduce medical cost trends, while maintaining coverage levels and quality of care. This solution illustrates the impact of changes in consumer behavior that occur as a result of economic conditions and opportunities.

A National Market for Individual Health Insurance

Health insurance markets are regulated by the states under the McCarran-Ferguson Act (15 U.S.C. 1011) of 1945. The ‘purpose clause’ of the Act states that regulation and taxation of the business of insurance by the states is in the public interest. As a result of McCarran-Ferguson, every health insurer must be licensed in the policyholder’s state of residence. The states have responded with a complex patchwork of mandates and laws that vary widely across the country.