COVID-19 Roundup from Pioneer: COVID & Air Conditioning; NEW: PPP Loan Tracker; COVID Nursing Home Task Force; Hubwonk: Fixing Foster Care; UMass’ Unique Re-opening Plans & more!

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Pioneer staff share their top picks for COVID-19 stories highlighting useful resources, best practices, and questions we should be asking our public and private sector leaders. We hope you are staying safe, and we welcome your thoughts; you can always reach out to us via email: pioneer@pioneerinstitute.org.

 

Our Top Picks for COVID-19 Pandemic News:

William Smith, Visiting Fellow, Life Sciences: Here’s an update on the race for a vaccine. Also, is air conditioning spreading the virus in the South?

Jim Stergios, Executive Director: Kudos to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority – this is so smart and, ahem, flush-full of ideas!

Michael Walker, Senior Fellow on Government Data Transparency: Everything you need to know about PPP Loans received in Massachusetts! In addition to Pioneer’s COVID MapCOVID Testing Tracker, and Long Term Care Facility Tracker, we are pleased to introduce our new PPP Loan Tracker. Now you can view Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) loans by recipient, lender, location, industry, and loan range. According to data from the Small Business Administration, 18,177 Massachusetts small businesses received PPP loans, which the companies claim retained 738,613 jobs. This latest tool is part of Pioneer’s initiative to advance transparency regarding public funds.

Barbara Anthony, Senior Fellow in Healthcare, Mary Z. Connaughton, Director of Government Transparency, and Andrew Mikula, Research Assistant, recently co-authored an Open Letter offering detailed, specific recommendations on infection control and preparedness in eldercare facilities, to Massachusetts’ future COVID-19 health equity task force. Read coverage (and an editorial) in The Boston Globe.  Watch: Barbara talked to Chris Lovett of BNN News about Pioneer’s recommendations.

Nina Weiss, Roger Perry Transprency Intern, is encouraged by the UMass system’s approach to reopening in the fall, and why it makes sense for its very different campuses to chart their own distinct paths. Margaret Smith, another Roger Perry Transparency Intern, shared ideas on safely bringing back youth soccer.

Pioneer recently lauched a new hotline where the public can log violations of Open Meeting Laws, especially those that may be a result of relaxed standards due to COVID.

 

Questions for Our Public & Private Sector Leaders:

Joe Selvaggi, Host, Hubwonk: This week, I talked with Josh Archambault, Pioneer Senior Fellow in Healthcare, about how to reform our foster care system, especially as cases are expected to surge after COVID. The Massachusetts legislature is taking up a bill to improve accountability measures at the Department of Children and Families. Also, read Josh’s commentary in USA Today, co-authored with Naomi Schaefer Riley, on how online services, training and data can strengthen the system.

Jamie Gass, Pioneer’s Education Policy Director: On the latest episode of “The Learning Curve” podcast, co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talked with Pulitzer Prize winning history professor emeritus Gordon Wood, who puts the American founding in perspective as we celebrate the nation’s birthday during a time of social unrest.

Also: COVID did not stop the Supreme Court from issuing a favorable decision last week in the landmark school choice case, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, and Pioneer Institute, which filed amici briefs (cited in Justice Alito’s concurring opinion) in the case, could not be more pleased. Read our Public Statement, and listen to our podcast interview with the lead plaintiff, Kendra Espinoza, and her attorney Erica Smith, from the Institute for Justice.

 

Do YOU have interesting questions and/or articles to share with us? Please email us, or message us through our social media channels below!

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Get Our COVID-19 News, Tips & Resources!

“Be Strong, Saith My Heart” – National Poetry Month – 40 Resources for K-12 Students

In Pioneer’s ongoing series of blogs on curricular resources for parents, families, and teachers during COVID-19, this one focuses on: Celebrating National Poetry Month.

Stanford’s National Humanities Medal Winner Prof. Arnold Rampersad on Langston Hughes & Ralph Ellison

This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and Cara talk with Professor Arnold Rampersad, the Sara Hart Kimball Professor Emeritus in Humanities at Stanford University and recipient of the National Humanities Medal for his books including The Life of Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison: A Biography.

Study Shows the Adverse Effects of Graduated Income Tax Proposal on Small Businesses

The state constitutional amendment promoted by the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the Service Employees International Union to add a 4 percent surtax to all annual income above $1 million will adversely impact a significant number of pass-through businesses, ultimately slowing the Commonwealth’s economic recovery from COVID-19, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker

Pioneer is proud to present a new vaccine tracker, the newest tool in our COVID-19 tracking project. Pioneer distilled the vaccination data down to those who are either fully vaccinated or partially vaccinated, by all the demographic categories published by the DPH. Use the new tool below to compare rates among groups, by municipality and by county. We will update the data every week.

The Washington Post’s Jay Mathews on An Optimist’s Guide to American Public Education

This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and Cara talk with Jay Mathews, an education columnist for The Washington Post and author of the recent book, An Optimist's Guide to American Public Education. Jay describes the three key trends in K-12 schooling that he views as cause for hope.

Grading Education in a Pandemic: Survey Finds Teachers Pass, Administrations Fail & Students Incomplete

This week on Hubwonk, Joe Selvaggi discusses a recently released survey from Pioneer Institute and Emerson Polling, "Massachusetts Residents’ Perceptions of K-12 Education During the Covid-19 Pandemic," with Emerson's lead analyst, Isabel Holloway, and Pioneer Institute’s Charlie Chieppo.

Poll Finds Mixed Views About Schools’ Pandemic Performance

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, Massachusetts residents have mixed opinions about how K-12 education has functioned, but they tend to view the performance of individual teachers more favorably than that of institutions like school districts and teachers’ unions, according to a poll of 1,500 residents commissioned by Pioneer Institute.

Doctor Heal Thyself: Insider’s Prescription For Healthcare Reform

Host Joe Selvaggi talks with surgeon and New York Times bestselling author Dr. Marty Makary about the healthcare reform themes in The Price We Pay, the 2020 Business Book of the Year.  The discussion covers the value of price transparency, provider accountability, and performance information to drive better medical outcomes and improve doctor and patient satisfaction.

New Study Warns Graduated Income Tax Will Harm Many Massachusetts Retirees

If passed, a constitutional amendment to impose a graduated income tax would raid the retirement plans of Massachusetts residents by pushing their owners into higher tax brackets on the sales of homes and businesses, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute. The study, entitled “The Graduated Income Tax Trap: A retirement tax on small business owners,” aims to help the public fully understand the impact of the proposed new tax.

Dartmouth’s Prof. Susannah Heschel Discusses Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel & the Civil Rights Movement

This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard and Cara talk with Dr. Susannah Heschel, the Eli M. Black Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, and the daughter of noted 20th-century Jewish theologian and Civil Rights-era leader, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. They discuss what teachers and students today should know about Rabbi Heschel’s life and legacy.