THE PIONEER BLOG

UChicago’s Dr. Leon Kass on Genesis, Exodus, & Reading Great Books

This week on “The Learning Curve,” guest co-host Jason Bedrick and co-host Gerard Robinson talk with Dr. Leon Kass, MD, the Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought and the College at the University of Chicago. Dr. Kass describes the important pieces of wisdom and humanity people today can still learn from reading the Book of Genesis, the topic of his 2003 work, The Beginning of Wisdom.

Enduring the Maelstrom: Lessons from MassPort Leadership During 9/11

Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi talks with author and former MassPort CEO Virginia Buckingham about her recently released book, On My Watch: A Memoir, which chronicles her experience leading the organization through 9/11 and the life and leadership lessons learned from that tragic day.

Unemployment Claims in New England: Who receives the most in unemployment benefits?

Unemployment is a hot topic only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Perusing the Pioneer Institute’s MA IRS DataDiscovery database reveals many interesting trends about unemployment benefits in New England.  In 2018, MA gave out over $1.11 billion in unemployment benefits, more than double the amount given in CT, the state with the second-highest dollar amount of unemployment. Benefits given in RI, ME, VT and NH are also a small percentage of the benefits given in CT. This is unsurprising, given MA, CT and RI have the highest maximum weekly benefit in New England. Benefits are calculated similarly across all the six states: wages are averaged over a base period, which is usually two to three of the quarters in which […]

MA Decline in Manufacturing Employment: Causes and Consequences

Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on employment levels across all industries, with the shutdowns of Spring 2020 forcing people out of work and enhanced unemployment benefits providing a disincentive to go back. However, as easy as it is to blame the increased unemployment benefits for declining employment levels, there’s one industry in MA whose employment rates have been declining for years before COVID. Using the Pioneer Institute’s MassEconomix Database, it’s clear that the number of manufacturing jobs has been falling consistently since at least the early 2000s.  The US signed NAFTA  in 1993, effectively eliminating trade barriers among Mexico, the US, and Canada. Although advertised as a means to expand trade and lower tariffs that would decrease […]

Valhalla Foundation’s Nancy Poon Lue on STEM Access & Equity

This week on “The Learning Curve,” host Gerard Robinson talks with Nancy Poon Lue, incoming Senior Director at the Valhalla Foundation, where she will be leading their K-12 math funding initiatives. Nancy shares her recent work with the EF+Math Program, some of the challenges America has faced in ensuring students have a strong grounding in math and science, and the kinds of results she aims to achieve for kids in all ZIP codes. 

UVA Prof. E.D. Hirsch, Jr. on Core Knowledge, Equity, & Educating Citizens

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Professor E.D. Hirsch, Jr., founder and chairman of the Core Knowledge Foundation, professor emeritus at the University of Virginia, and acclaimed author of the books, Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know and How to Educate a Citizen: The Power of Shared Knowledge to Unify a Nation.

“Key of the Gulf” – Exploring Cuba – 35 Resources for Parents & Students

Castro’s despotism, the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Embargo, remains the Cuban people – vibrant, creative, pious, and poor, who have continued to inspire and awe with their smiles, culture, music, dance, food, tobacco, resilience, and hopes. With the desire of passing along some of this magic to American families, students, teachers, and schools, we’re providing a variety of resources to educate our people about their neighbors, who live a mere 100 miles from our shores, in Cuba.

Green energy job growth in Massachusetts following New Climate Change report published by the United Nations

On August 9, 2021, the United Nations Climate Change Panel published one of the most comprehensive climate change assessments to date, which called for worldwide action and reform regarding waste, consumption, and fuel usage. The report stated, “it is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean, and land.”    According to this article by Reuters, the primary problems the report identified were rising temperatures, extreme weather conditions such as heat waves, longer and more intense seasons, gradual sea level rise, and lower ice levels in the arctic. Most importantly, the report claimed that humanity is running out of time to turn the situation around.   However, there is controversy over the report. Many reputable news sources are claiming […]

Human Rights Advocate Kristina Arriaga on Cuba, Religious Liberty, & Cancel Culture

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Kristina Arriaga, president of Intrinsic, a strategic communications firm, and former vice chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Kristina shares her family’s experiences fleeing Castro’s communist regime in Cuba and other hardships, and how her background has shaped her commitment to religious liberty.

MBTA Ridership Trends Compared to Public Transportation Agencies Nationwide

The COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating effect on our economy, and Greater Boston’s transit agency — the MBTA — also took a hit. Using Pioneer Institute’s MBTA Analysis Database, one can compare MBTA ridership trends to those of other U.S. public transportation agencies.   Table 1: Bus, Unlinked Passenger Trips Agency 2019 2020 2021 to Date Chicago Transit Authority 21,144,867 6,822,850 9,197,725 City and County of San Francisco 9,502,636 2,566,978 3,725,217 County of Miami-Dade 4,122,990 1,643,751 3,199,822 Dallas Area Rapid Transit 3,276,271 1,637,090 1,680,878 Denver Regional Transportation District 4,074,112 1,370,794 1,643,250 King County Department of Metro Transit 9,280,947 2,607,899 3,331,400 Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority 22,668,594 8,490,691 13,271,318 Maryland Transit Administration 5,821,031 2,524,203 2,861,492 Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority 8,728,580 […]

The Globe’s Ornaments – Celebrating the Great Cities of the Ages – 35 Resources for Parents & Students

Celebrating the Great Cities of the Ages – This is part of Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs on curricular resources for parents, teachers, and students during COVID-19.

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.

A Conversation about Massachusetts Charter Schools: Retention Rate and Age Trends Among Public Educators

Massachusetts was home to 400 school districts in the 2020-2021 school year, 78 of which are charters.  Established by the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993, public charter schools in the Commonwealth have delivered on their promise of access, outcomes, and opportunity. In 2018, Pioneer Institute Senior Fellow Cara Stillings Candal published The Fight for the Best Charter Public Schools in the Nation.  She suggests that the success of charters lies within a model of social entrepreneurship, allowing for autonomy in curriculum, hiring, and management while being held accountable for outcomes.  If a school doesn’t perform well, its charter is revoked. Using statewide educator reports from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), Pioneer set out to create […]

A Closer Look at Public Higher Education Employees in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is home to many colleges and universities, both public and private. Over the last 10 years, the average pay of public higher education employees in the Commonwealth has increased by 38.43%. In 2010, the average salary of these employees was $37,827. The average salary increased to $52,363 by 2020. However, the number of employees in Massachusetts public higher education systems has decreased by 4.43% from 2010 to 2020. In 2010, there were 47,758 higher education employees, and by 2020, there were 45,643 employees. However, this decreasing trend was not consistent across all 10 of these years (Figure 1). Between 2019 and 2020 alone, there was a 9.13% decrease in the number of higher education employees. Figure 1. The change […]

Civil Rights Leader Bob Woodson on 1776 Unites & Race in America

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Robert Woodson, Sr., founder and president of the Woodson Center that supports neighborhood-based initiatives to revitalize low-income communities, as well as author and editor of the May 2021 book, “Red, White, and Black.”