THE PIONEER BLOG

California’s Common Core Apologia

In a recent blog, Dr. Michael Kirst, past president of the California State Board of Education, attempts to defend his record of Common Core implementation during that period. But policy experts Ze’ev Wurman & Williamson Evers set the Golden State’s record during Common Core straight.

During COVID-19 Outbreak, Compounding Challenges for Special Education Students

In Massachusetts, there’s a staunch and persistent negative correlation between the share of students with disabilities in a school and the school’s overall performance on MCAS testing. Consider it a sign that ongoing reforms are needed in special education to prepare all of our children for their future.    Special education students deserve particular attention, however, because unlike some other demographics – notably economically disadvantaged kids – they have grown in number consistently in recent years. Between 2013 and 2019, Massachusetts primary and secondary schools added over 10,000 children with disabilities, a growth rate of over 1 percent per year. They now comprise over 19 percent of the state’s K-12 enrollment.   Programming for these children is especially important during […]

Stargazing: Five Astronomy Resources for Parents, Teachers, and Kids During COVID-19

Here are some resources for parents, teachers, and students of all ages. Our hope is to cultivate the curiosity within us, in order to better understand the heavens and stars above us.

The past seven weeks of Massachusetts unemployment claims total 25.8 percent of the civilian workforce.

The U.S. Department of Labor released its weekly report on jobless claims Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m., reporting that Massachusetts received 55,448 initial unemployment insurance (UI) claims during the week ended May 2. This brings the total of regular UI claims filed in Massachusetts since March 14, the beginning of the unemployment surge, to 781,110. 

Explosion in ESL enrollment creates new opportunities, challenges

  The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that, between 2010 and 2019, the population of Massachusetts grew by 344,718 people. It also estimates that, without immigration, the population would have declined by 17,052.    Immigrants have played an increasingly important role in the Commonwealth’s economy and culture over the past few decades, as the state has relied on international arrivals to offset out-migration among native born residents. Since 2000, there have been only two years in which the number of Americans moving to the Bay State was greater than the number of Massachusetts residents moving to other states. Every year from 2008 to 2018, immigrants ensured that the Commonwealth’s population kept growing by offsetting the losses that came from Bay Staters […]

COVID-19 will likely lead to a recession. Can Massachusetts municipal budgets handle one?

Using municipalities’ experiences during the Great Recession, a new policy brief examines the likely impact of COVID-19 on local property taxes, as well as political implications for state aid. We list the municipal revenues by category among the least tax-reliant communities in Massachusetts, show the trajectory of tax revenue growth rate in Massachusetts state and local governments, and rank stabilization fund assets per capita among Massachusetts Gateway Cities.

The past six weeks of Massachusetts unemployment claims total 24.0 percent of civilian workforce

The U.S. Department of Labor released its weekly report on jobless claims this morning at 8:30 a.m., reporting that Massachusetts received 70,714 initial unemployment insurance (UI) claims during the week ended April 25. This brings the total of unemployment claims filed in Massachusetts since March 14, the beginning of the unemployment surge, to 725,018. 

States across the country have enacted eviction moratoriums. What does this mean for the housing market in the long-term?

Last week, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill into law that essentially suspends the state’s eviction and foreclosure processes for the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tenants’ rights and housing advocates largely viewed the measure as much-needed stabilization for the economy at a time when the country is likely facing a hard recession. Proponents believe that failing to provide a safety net for renters and homeowners alike would likely prolong the recession and aid the spread of the virus.    Still, property owners and real estate industry spokespeople have warned of the ripple effects of foregone rent payments once the eviction moratorium is lifted. At that point, the judicial system will likely face a backlog of eviction cases, leading […]

New jobless claims data shows that Massachusetts unemployment has grown from 2.8% to at least 20.4% in five weeks

Based on today’s jobless claims report, Pioneer Institute projects that the current unemployment rate in Massachusetts is at least 20.4 percent, with a minimum of 762,299 currently unemployed individuals.

WILL YOU COMMUTE TO WORK WHEN THE COVID-19 CRISIS IS OVER?

How will you look at commuting in the future? This survey will ask over 30,000 people how their attitudes and habits will change. Please be part of our work to understand the changing world around us.

Elderly people were already vulnerable to COVID-19. Then it came to nursing homes.

Last week, reports of mismanagement and negligence regarding COVID-19 protocol at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, a state-run veterans’ nursing home, resulted in the deaths of at least 47 seniors. The administrative fallout, which largely consists of blame-shifting between state and local officials, made national headlines, and several investigations of the incident are ongoing.    But Holyoke is just the tip of the iceberg. As of April 15, nursing home residents make up over 40 percent of COVID-19 fatalities in Massachusetts (see Figure 1). People over the age of 70, regardless of their place of residence, have accounted for 85 percent of COVID-19-related deaths in the state.    Senior living facilities are uniquely vulnerable to this pandemic, especially given the reputation […]

Mapping COVID-19 in Massachusetts Cities & Towns

Kudos to he Massachusetts Department of Public Health for posting the count and rate (per 100,000) of confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Massachusetts by City/Town.

Transparency Needed at Long-term Care Facilities

The anxiety of having a parent in a nursing home under the constant threat of Covid-19 has to be debilitating. Residents, many with dementia, who had grown accustomed to their children’s regular visits must be in a state of increased confusion and despair in their isolation. The decision to move a parent into a home is beyond difficult. In the end, though, the decision comes down to basic safety. Are they safer at their own home, living with you when you cannot be there around the clock – or in a facility? Ultimately, it comes down to limiting risks, which often means assisted living, skilled nursing or rest homes. The decision is made to protect with professional care. But the […]

Which industry’s workforce has been hurt the most from the COVID-19 outbreak?

Unemployment claims have reached all-time highs in the U.S. recently as COVID-19 rattles the world. The rapid shedding of jobs that started during the week ended March 21 has affected nearly every sector of the economy, from construction to manufacturing to personal services. Still, some industries remain more vulnerable than others as workers stay home and some online activities spike. Below, I examine how the share of employment claims by industry sector has changed over time.   The sector with the most unemployment claims in Massachusetts in March (including before the widespread layoffs due to COVID-19) was Food & Accommodation, which includes most restaurants, hotels, and tourism businesses. However, Food & Accommodation workers have not consistently risen as a share […]

Will the COVID-19-related economic recession cause a spike in crime?

Intuitively, it makes sense that people replace legitimate business with theft and fraud during desperate times. Many police agencies reported rising instances of robbery, burglary, and motor vehicle theft as a result of the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Some publications have even suggested that those who finish their education during economic recessions disproportionately become career criminals rather than gain legitimate employment.     Other observers dispute the link between unemployment and crime, suggesting there are factors underlying increases in unemployment (like a drug abuse epidemic) that better explain the correlation and notable exceptions (like the Great Depression) that otherwise debunk it. With almost a decade of post-recession data analysis in the books, it’s clear that crime rates generally decreased in the […]