THE PIONEER BLOG

Aurora Institute’s Susan Patrick on Digital Learning Lessons from COVID-19

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Susan Patrick, the President and CEO of Aurora Institute and co-founder of CompetencyWorks. Susan shares observations about the long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for American K-12 education, and the prospects for expanding digital learning.

School Expenditures in the 2019 and 2020 School Years

The Massachusetts K-12 school system has been regarded as the most highly ranked system by the US News & World Report for years. According to Pioneer Institute’s MassReportCards tool, the ways in which Massachusetts schools spend money has been changing in the past few school years. The overall spending in Massachusetts school districts has slightly increased from 2019 to 2020 (Note: the 2019 school year represents the school year from July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019, and the 2020 school year represents the school year from July 1, 2019-June 30, 2020). In 2019, districts spent a total of $16,884,101,109 on school expenses, while in 2020, spending amounted to $16,929,248,719, an increase of about 0.26%. (Note: the rate of this increase in […]

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Prof. David Hackett Fischer on Paul Revere, George Washington, & American Independence

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with David Hackett Fischer, University Professor and Earl Warren Professor of History Emeritus at Brandeis University, and the author of numerous books, including Paul Revere’s Ride and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington’s Crossing. As America prepares to celebrate the Fourth of July, they review key figures who helped secure independence from Great Britain, including Paul Revere, immortalized in Longfellow’s classic poem, and Founding Father George Washington, known among his contemporaries as the “indispensable man” of the revolutionary cause.

Massachusetts Residents Are Opting to File for Residential Energy Tax Credits

In 2018, 14,230 Massachusetts taxpayers received a total of $65,868,000 in green energy tax credits on their federal returns, but how can more take advantage of this offer?  Pioneer set out to compare data on Residential Energy Credits (RECs) between Massachusetts and its New England neighbors using Pioneer’s Massachusetts IRS Data Discovery site.  RECs are a non-refundable credit recently extended by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 that reimburses taxpayers up to 26% for costs on new builds or home renovations for tax years 2020 to 2022.  This is less than the 30% rate for 2012-2019, according to previous versions of IRS Form 5695, and the rate will fall again to 22% in 2023.   Part I of REC, the Residential […]

Municipalities of Massachusetts with the Highest Debt Service Expenditure

In the public sector, debt service refers to both repayments and interest paid “on long term obligations of public debtors and long-term private obligations guaranteed by a public entity.” In Massachusetts, debt service expenditures differ among municipalities based on the characteristics of the locality, including size and budget.  According to Pioneer Institute’s MassAnalysis tool, in 2019 the five municipalities with the highest debt service expenditures (in dollars) were Boston, Worcester, Cambridge, Peabody, and Lowell (respectively). In 2019, Boston spent the most ($182,470,769) on debt service (Figure 1), representing 5% of its operating budget. In the same year, Worcester spent $90,753,444, or 12% of its operating budget on debt service. Cambridge spent $68,410,826, representing 10% of its budget. Peabody spent $52,270,825 […]

Jo Napolitano on the Inspiring Stories of Immigrant Children

This week on JobMakers, Host Denzil Mohammed talks with Jo Napolitano, journalist, former Spencer Fellow at Columbia University, and author of the new book, The School I Deserve: Six Young Refugees and Their Fight for Equality in America, about the enterprising spirit of immigrants and refugees across the nation and at the U.S.-Mexico border.

AEI’s Naomi Schaefer Riley on Parenting, Excessive Screen Time, & Religion in American Education

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Gerard Robinson and guest co-host Kerry McDonald talk with Naomi Schaefer Riley, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of several books, including Be the Parent, Please.

Monarchs of the Sea – American Boats, Ships, & their Captains – 40 Resources for High School Students

In Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs on curricular resources for parents, families, and teachers during COVID-19, this one focuses on: Celebrating American Boats, Ships, & their Captains.

The Effects of the COVID 19 Pandemic on MBTA Light Rail Ridership

In 2020, the COVID 19 pandemic had an unprecedented impact on public transportation. According to Pioneer Institute’s site, MBTA Analysis, nationwide ridership on light rail transit decreased by historic amounts between 2019 and 2020. For example, the New Jersey Transit Corporation reported a 93% decrease in unlinked light rail passenger trips in April 2019 and April 2020. The Maryland Transit Administration saw a 92% decrease in light rail ridership in that time period. Additionally, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) reported a 95% decrease in light rail ridership. The MBTA light rail transit includes the Green Line and a small part of the Red Line (from Ashmont to Mattapan). Throughout the pandemic, many service cuts occurred, resulting in less frequent […]

New York Times Best Seller Paul Reid on Winston Churchill, WWII, & the Cold War

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and guest co-host Kerry McDonald talk with Paul Reid, co-author, with William Manchester, of the New York Times best-selling biography of Winston Churchill, The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965. Reid shares how he was enlisted to complete William Manchester’s biographical trilogy on the greatest political figure of the 20th century, which became a best-seller.

How do employment trends differ between urban and rural Massachusetts from 1999-2019?

To better understand these statistics, data available on employment across Massachusetts counties is helpful. This blog will investigate the employment trends in Franklin and Middlesex Counties from 1999-2019.

Urban Cyclist Fatalities: Improving the Safety of Our Commuters

Pioneer set out to compare fatality data, miles of bike lanes, and cyclist commuter statistics in the five largest cities in the Northeast to develop recommendations for what urban areas can do to improve dangerous riding conditions. 

Valuing Life-Saving Drugs: What is the Price of Life and Who Decides?

Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi talks with Pioneer Institute visiting fellow Dr. Bill Smith about Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALY) standards, and the ways in which so-called objective cost-containing strategies use expert opinion to determine the value of a life and thereby disadvantage the elderly, disabled, and those with less common vulnerabilities to disease.

Putting in the Extra Hours: The Spike in Mass. Department of Public Health Overtime Pay during COVID-19

During the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) payroll data presented a 29.09% increase in the average employee’s overtime pay from the previous year. Pioneer wanted to dig deeper into the Department’s compensation trends to put the $5M bump in 2020 DPH overtime pay into perspective.

Rafe Esquith on Teaching Shakespeare to Inner-City LA Students

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Gerard and Cara talk with Rafe Esquith, an award-winning teacher at Hobart Elementary School in Los Angeles, and the founder of The Hobart Shakespeareans, who annually stage performances of unabridged plays by William Shakespeare. He shares why he founded the award-winning program to teach disadvantaged Los Angeles elementary school students a classical humanities curriculum, the most inspiring experiences and the biggest challenges of teaching highly demanding literary works to young schoolchildren from diverse backgrounds.