Not so obvious: who is driving the market for 55+ housing?

Sunday Globe’s real estate section didn’t get it right about age-restricted housing: “Right now, there’s no question 55-plus housing is driven by demographics.” No question — baby-boomers are driving demand for modest housing in traditionally scaled neighborhoods. The question is — Are baby-boomers really demanding houses that they can only re-sell to people 55 years and older, or is something else driving the market for such deed-restricted houses?  According to Pioneer’s survey of local zoning regulations, just over half of the communities in eastern MA have zoning for age-restricted housing (96 of 187 municipalities). Often, the only way to build neighborhoods of traditional density is through the 55+ zoning. While some seniors are looking for neighborhoods where there are no […]

What a difference a few feet make

As a kid, I lived on the border of Massachusetts and used to jump over the border regularly. Fun for us was rock fights, with one side being Rhode Island and the other the Bay Staters. What a difference a few feet made back then, and still do now. Massachusetts may be growing accustomed to Governor Patrick’s biweekly billion dollar proposals, but Rhode Island seems headed in a different direction. Governor Carcieri, facing a deficit quite a bit smaller than our $1.1 billion shortfall, is moving to Cut what probably approaches 10 percent of RI’s state employees, and Bid out as much work as possible to minimize ballooning public salaries, pension and health care liabilities. The Providence Journal article quotes […]

Promises, promises

During the campaign, we heard that good ideas were what mattered — what didn’t was whether it was a Democrat or Republican idea. We did a check-in at around the 100-day mark, when the Harshbarger & Co. Cleaning Crew came up with the brilliant idea of cleaning out all the Republican appointees. As Frank Phillips put it, the first priority for the shadow advisory group (Ron Homer, Scott Harshbarger, pollster Tom Kiley, state Dem Party chair John Walsh, and political consultants/advisers John Marttila, Dennis Kanin, and Michael Goldman) was to crack the whip on the administration’s lagging efforts to replace Republican-appointed government managers with a team loyal to Patrick. Now the work’s been done — out Harry Spence (Social Services), […]

The Gov’s new BOE pick (number three)

There is no need to comment on this.  Ruth’s words do all the talking that is needed:  When educators are devalued, when the business model ALONE is considered a healthy and effective way to run a learning organization, when shame, fear and humiliation are considered healthy and effective motivators for teachers and principals, then the whole child is being left behind. Is that your view of testing?

What does Ruth Kaplan mean for ed reform? (Redux)

Ms. Kaplan is right to be “deeply troubled by the fact that too many children are being left behind in Massachusetts despite 12 years of Ed Reform,” as she noted at a State House press conference held by the Alliance for the Education of the Whole Child on January 10, 2006. As she further noted on that occasion: For the school year 2003-4, DOE figures show that over 10,000 children dropped out of our schools. All good so far. Also, not bad to have someone with passion to address the drop-out rate on the BOE. As Ms. Kaplan states later at the conference: This drop-out rate is a disgrace and should be of urgent concern to everyone who has watched […]

What does Ruth Kaplan mean for ed reform?

With the Governor’s appointment of Ruth Kaplan to the Board of Education, the anti-MCAS movement gets a swell of momentum.  Here is a comment from the Legislature’s Education Committee Hearing on MCAS Bills in September 2003: MCAS has failed abysmally to address the circumstances of students with disabilities. This test is destroying the aspirations of some of the Commonwealth’s hardest working students. Why are we placing insurmountable obstacles in the paths of our most vulnerable public school students? ‘One size does not fit all,’ and standardization is the antithesis of special education. If MCAS remains the barrier it has become for these children, then 25 years of progress will be reversed, and a high school diploma will become the ‘impossible […]

Turning up the heat on MCAS

I don’t know how or why the Gov’s folks think moving away from the MCAS is something they are going to get any buy-in on.  If you want to push it to the end of the school year, as many teachers have long asked–sure, that makes sense.  If you want to limit the number of days a school can take to give the exam–sure, makes sense.  But the attempt to sell this as a question of whether the MCAS is “a” versus “the” requirement is too lawyerly.  In a previous post, I went through the Worcester T&G’s take on the Gov’s plan.  Take a look at Jon Keller’s blog “Deval’s MCAS Folly”.  Tough words from Keller: And if he thinks the […]

What’s all this then about… the Worcester T&G

The June 5 T&G makes one more point worth mentioning.  As Monty Python used to say, What’s all this then about… free community colleges?  As the editorial notes, the idea “disappointingly fails to address more immediate concerns.”  As the piece notes, Community colleges play a vital role as a portal into post-secondary education — including four-year colleges and technical programs — for nontraditional students, limited-English speakers and others. While state funding may have made community colleges beyond the means of some, doesn’t everyone agree that we have a lot of work to do to ensure that CCs are effective delivery systems for skills needed in the market place?  I mean, a financial services firm, to remain unnamed, has a wonderful relationship […]

Whatever you do say nothing

…when you talk about you know what. The above line is from an old Irish song (full lyrics below), mocking some unspeakable truth that can’t be related in polite company. I thought of it today reading about the travails of John Hynes who had the audacity to say the following, as an explanation for his plan to open a private school as part of a major development in the Seaport: Unfortunately, 200 to 300 young families leave the city annually because they don’t want to send their kids to private school, can’t get into the public school of choice, or don’t want their 7-year-old spending two hours traveling to a private school, so they move to the suburbs (Quoted in […]

Anybody have an education bandaid?

The education announcement was long on desire, but its lack of detail and, um, how to get it done (sometimes known as an implementation plan) is buying the Governor more static.  Check out the June 5 editorial in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, which makes three points: Conspicuously absent from his presentation, however, were a price tag for the sweeping expansion he envisions and an action plan for overcoming resistance by unions, school administrators and taxpayers to various aspects of his education plan. A decade and a half after enactment of the landmark education reform law, the No. 1 standing of Massachusetts students nationwide has vindicated the “grand bargain” that underlies the effort’s success: a major infusion of funding accompanied by measurable standards and accountability for results. […]

Biotech vs. Precision Plastics

Good play on the radio and in the print media subsequent to our piece in the Herald giving Pioneer’s take on the billion-dollar biotech bonanza, excerpted below: We all want to attract and grow biotech companies. [But] why not focus on financial services, which employs 180,000, or precision plastics, a large employer in Worcester and Springfield? [Why] not focus on the small business sector as a whole, which creates many times more jobs than biotech. Those jobs start people up the economic ladder – and stay in Massachusetts. The only way to grow and retain jobs and broad prosperity is to improve the business climate by addressing areas of competitive disadvantage like unemployment insurance, permitting, health care and energy costs. Massachusetts has the […]

Teach to the test? By all means, says Tom Birmingham

As thousands of students languish on charter school and METCO’s waiting lists, the state education apparatus (including a former Commissioner of Education, former Board of Ed chairman, and former co-chair of the Committee on Education) is attacking what they think is wrong with our schools: MCAS testing. Fortunately, former Senate President (and eternal champion of better schools and common sense) Tom Birmingham will have none of that. To cite the State House News article above: …[Birmingham] called the phrase “teaching to the test” an unfair pejorative because the skills assessed by the test are universally necessary. “If you aren’t literate and numerate, I think the other subjects are going to be lost on you anyway,” he said. “It’s not like […]

How Much Have Business Taxes Increased?

Upon release of the Governor’s budget, the issue of business taxes came to the fore. A coalition of business groups claimed that taxes had increased by $1 billion over the past few years. The administration, a bit snarkily (but with creative use of technology), replied that these claims were outrageous. A tip of the pen to Blue Mass Group as the source for these documents. (Curious why a release attributed to the Governor’s Office only shows up on that site? I am too.) However, we’ve got a new, unimpeachable source of data to referee these claims — the Commonwealth’s Official Statement. (Another tip of the pen– to A Healthy Blog for figuring out how to post this publicly). It details […]

Tooting My Own Horn

Ripped from today’s headlines: “I think there’s certainly a tremendous amount of vision in the education plan, but I approach the financing side of it with a great deal of trepidation,” said Steve Poftak, research director for the Pioneer Institute, a conservative think tank. “I think it’s going to be tremendously difficult to come up with the funds for each one of these initiatives.”

Too Much Innovation from the Public Sector?

Have you seen the logo for the 2012 Olympics in London? It appears they dropped the original submission. Also, the rollout presentation is triggering seizures. The organizers of the event have, rather bravely but perversely, opened up their website for individuals to design their own logos. Many of which are substantially better than the one that was chosen. The BBC also has been soliciting its patrons for new designs. The third one in the gallery is my favorite. Oh, and did we mention that the organizing committee paid 400,000 pounds for a consulting group to develop the chosen design?