Study: Ed Reform Has Improved Academic Performance and Equity

Over the past 30 years, rigorous standards, assessments, and accountability for outcomes have propelled Massachusetts public schools to become the nation’s best. Taking away the high-stakes component of MCAS would weaken the accountability system and lead stakeholders to de-emphasize the assessment data that drives high-quality instruction, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

UK U-Warwick’s Benjamin Smith on Mexico’s Cartels & Drug Trade

Prof. Benjamin Smith, author of The Dope: The Real History of the Mexican Drug Trade, provides insights into various aspects of the Mexican drug trade, including its historical context and the evolution of illicit drug products over time. He discusses key cartels and their methods, the impact of the drug trade on Mexico's murder rates, the immense financial scale of the trade, its effect on Mexico and the U.S., and the challenges law enforcement face in combating it. Smith explores the relationship among Mexican cartels, other foreign countries, and the illicit drug market in the U.S.

DFER-MA’s Mary Tamer on MCAS & Teacher Strikes

Mary Tamer focuses on the historic impact of the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act on the commonwealth’s students’ high achievement on national and international measures. She explores the politics of the Massachusetts Teachers Association advocating against the MCAS test as a graduation requirement. In closing, Ms. Tamer also discusses the rise of teacher strikes and their implications for education reform in the Bay State.

U-TN’s Robert Norrell on Booker T. Washington & Voc-Tech

Prof. Robert Norrell explores Booker T. Washington's early life in slavery, his transformative leadership at Tuskegee Institute amidst Jim Crow racism, and his advocacy for vocational education as a means for racial uplift. He also discusses Washington’s 1901 autobiography, Up From Slavery; his controversial White House dinner with President Theodore Roosevelt; and his often overlooked legacy following the activism of the 1960s Civil Rights era.

BC’s Dr. Matthias von Davier on TIMSS & K-12 Global STEM

Dr. von Davier explores his educational background and its influence on directing TIMSS & PIRLS, shedding light on psychometrics and standardized testing. He discusses the shift in education policy's focus, the global education data landscape, and the pandemic's effects on K-12 education around the world. Dr. von Davier addresses the alarming decline in U.S. educational performance, emphasizing the urgency to bridge achievement gaps. Drawing from international experiences, he highlights global examples for American policymakers from higher-performing countries, emphasizing the crucial links between education, skills, and innovation on the global economy.

Admissions lotteries would harm vocational-technical schools

Expanding the number of seats available in vocational-technical high schools is a good investment for Massachusetts. But it’s critical they are expanded in a way that promotes equity without endangering the academic and occupational excellence that continues to drive burgeoning demand for these schools.

ExcelinEd’s Dr. Cara Candal on National School Choice Week

Dr. Candal delves into the evolving landscape of K-12 education in the U.S., examining the expansion of private school choice programs post- U.S. Supreme Court decisions, changing political dynamics around charter schools, strategies of the national school choice movement in low-performing states, the role of parent-driven models during the pandemic, the significance of voc-tech education, and addressing underperformance and achievement gaps.

NYT Bestseller Jonathan Eig on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jonathan Eig delves into MLK's early spiritual leadership, the influence of Langston Hughes on his speeches, his relationship with his wife, Coretta Scott King, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's challenges. He discusses historic events in Birmingham, Alabama, the March on Washington, MLK's struggles in Chicago, the Poor People's Campaign, and the events leading to his assassination in 1968. Eig underscores the multifaceted aspects of MLK's life and provides insights on drawing lessons for contemporary challenges in race relations and leadership.

Olympic Track Medalist Gabby Thomas

Gabby Thomas, Pioneer Valley native, Harvard alum in neurobiology, and Olympic sprinter, won bronze and silver in Tokyo, she also pursued a master's in epidemiology. She shares her journey excelling both in academics and athletics.

T.J. Stiles on Cornelius Vanderbilt & American Business

T.J. Stiles delves into the life of America’s first tycoon, Cornelius Vanderbilt, exploring his rise to historic wealth in steamboats, shipping, and railroads. He discusses Vanderbilt's legal battles, philanthropy, and enduring legacy, exploring his business competitiveness and wide impact on 19th-century America’s economy.

Carol Zaleski on The Lord of the Rings & Narnia

Prof. Carol Zaleski discusses the literary impact of the Inklings, focusing on J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, exploring their lives, works, and enduring moral contributions in today's cultural landscape.

Emily Hanford on Reading Science & K-12 Literacy

Emily Hanford, host of the hit podcast Sold a Story: How Teaching Kids to Read Went So Wrong, discusses the science of reading, the long whole language v. phonics debate, the impact of the digital age on learning, and the importance of academic background knowledge for children becoming better readers.

Francine Klagsbrun on Golda Meir’s Leadership and the State of Israel

This week on The Learning Curve, Francine Klagsbrun, author of "Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel," discusses the remarkable life and legacy of the woman who left Kiev as a child, grew up in Milwaukee, emigrated to Mandatory Palestine, was a signatory to the declaration of independence for the state of Israel, and rose to become that nation's fourth prime minister.

Hillsdale’s Dr. Kathleen O’Toole on K-12 Classical Education

Dr. O'Toole explores Hillsdale's mission and its impact on K-12 education, delving into classical education, Greco-Roman ideals, Enlightenment principles, and the college’s efforts to enhance education. She discusses the challenges faced in exporting Hillsdale's model to K-12 public schooling, critiques of American education, and the role of the liberal arts in fostering academic unity amidst societal divisions.

National Alliance’s Nina Rees on Charter Public Schools in America

Prof. Albert Cheng and Charlie Chieppo interview Nina Rees from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools on policy gains, charter school growth, challenges, debates, federal spending, and academic recommendations.

Harvard Prof. Leo Damrosch on Jonathan Swift & Gulliver’s Travels

Harvard Prof. Leo Damrosch discusses Jonathan Swift's satirical genius, political critiques, and literary legacy. He emphasizes Swift's wit, insights, and commitment to liberty, and closes the interview with a reading from his book, Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World.

Pioneer Study: Specifics on School Pandemic Relief Spending Hard to Come By

With the deadline for spending $2.9 billion in federal pandemic relief funds now less than a year away, it’s difficult to know exactly how Massachusetts school districts are spending the money and what impact those expenditures are having on students, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

Pioneer’s U.S. History & Civics Book with Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola discusses Pioneer's new book "Restoring the City on a Hill: U.S. History & Civics in America's Schools" based on U.S. K-12 history and civics education, highlighting declining standards, leadership importance, crisis, primary sources, and state profiles, underscoring academic content's value.

New Book Calls on States to Improve U.S. History and Civics Education

Pioneer Institute is today releasing Restoring the City on a Hill: U.S. History and Civics in America's Schools, which details the decline of history and civics knowledge among students and offers a plan for how states and local school districts can foster understanding of and curiosity about our nation's history.

Massachusetts Residents Score a ‘D’ in Poll Based on U.S. Citizenship Test

When asked a series of questions about how the federal government works that are based on the U.S. citizenship test, Massachusetts residents answered on average 63 percent of them correctly, earning a collective grade of “D” in a poll commissioned by Pioneer Institute and conducted by Emerson College Polling. The result is just over the 60 percent score required to pass the actual citizenship test.

Pioneer Study: Adopt Innovative Approaches to Address K-12 STEM Teacher Shortage

States and school districts should look to innovations like endowing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) chairs in high schools to address a growing K-12 teacher shortage, according to a new white paper published by Pioneer Institute.

Pioneer Study: Every Student Succeeds Act Not Meeting Needs of All Students

The most recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act makes some progress toward fulfilling the mandate that public school districts provide wide-ranging academic and educational supports to students who attend nonpublic schools, but there is more to be done.

A Bird’s Eye View: Massachusetts K-12 Education by County

Massachusetts has had the best public school system in the country for the past two decades: along with some of the highest per pupil spending as well. Among the counties, does high per pupil spending translate to better results? The short answer: not really.

Study: Update Finds Boston Public Schools Making Slow, Uneven Progress

The Boston Public Schools (BPS) are experiencing some positive change but have a long way to go to streamline critical processes, improve school accountability, and create a realistic, school-centered budget, according to a new study from Pioneer Institute.

Webinar: Focusing on Massachusetts’ Model Vocational-Technical Schools

Pioneer Institute and First Things Magazine recently hosted an hour-long webinar examining the successes of vocational-technical schools, how education in the trades is faring nationwide, and the prospects for today’s high school graduates as they seek careers and additional training beyond the secondary level.

Study Finds COVID Led to Significant Declines in Massachusetts School Enrollments

After a decade of relative stability, COVID has wreaked havoc with Massachusetts public school enrollments, and the U.S. Department of Education projects more declines by 2030, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute. The figures should serve as a warning to vulnerable districts that they must be prepared for the financial, staffing, and facilities impacts that may accompany substantial drops in public school enrollments.

Fmr. Mississippi Chief Dr. Carey Wright on State Leadership & NAEP Gains

This week on The Learning Curve, Dr. Carey Wright, former Mississippi state superintendent of education, discusses the dramatic improvements in fourth graders' reading scores in Mississippi during her time there, the importance of early childhood education and literacy programs, the role of literature and art, and the inspiration educators can draw from Mississippi's heroes in the Civil Rights Movement.

Prof. Lorraine Pangle on the Founders, Education, and Civics

This week on The Learning Curve, Lorraine Pangle, professor of political philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, discusses how the Founding Fathers' grounding in classical and Enlightenment thought helped shape America's Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the role of public education as a wellspring of republican self-government.

U.K.’s Robert McCrum on P.G. Wodehouse, ‘Jeeves & Wooster,’ and April Fools’ Day

In this special April Fools' Day edition of The Learning Curve, British writer and editor Robert McCrum, discusses English comic genius P.G. Wodehouse, his inimitable prose style, and much-needed humor he brought to 1920s and '30s Britain in the wake of World War I and the 1918 flu epidemic.

Ashley Soifer on Microschools, Pods, & Homeschooling

This week on The Learning Curve, Ashley Soifer, Chief Innovation Officer of the National Microschooling Center discusses these innovative schooling options, in which families and innovators are using a wide array of education choices that offer parents flexibility and greater control over how, where, what, and when their children learn.