Op-ed: Mass. has to return to its high standards for education

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on
LinkedIn
+

Its 25th anniversary is an appropriate time to reflect on the success of Massachusetts’ 1993 Education Reform Act. Yet instead of rededicating ourselves to all the work still to be done, the Commonwealth seems to be turning away from the core principles of an approach that brought unprecedented success.

In the early 1990s, Massachusetts’ broken educational standards and financing system were in urgent need of reform. Wide funding disparities existed between wealthy suburban districts and poor urban and rural ones. Due to the misguided practice of social promotion, students frequently graduated from high school without the academic preparation to succeed in college or the workplace. Parents who desperately sought alternatives for children trapped in failing public schools had few options.

The 1993 act included comprehensive measures to address these challenges. We are proud to have played central roles in the creation of this law in our former positions as governor and Senate chair of the Legislature’s Joint Education Committee. Read the rest of this op-ed in The Boston Globe.

Check out our related analysis and commentary:

Two Stars in a Glowing Voc-Tech Education System

“A Tale of Two City Schools: Worcester Tech and Putnam Academy Become Models for Recovery” is a new white paper by Pioneer Institute that analyzes how Worcester Tech and Putnam Academy — schools with high numbers of low-income and special needs students — leapt from the bottom of Massachusetts voc-tech rankings to become leaders among local schools.

Toolkit Highlights Keys to Massachusetts’s Vocational-Technical School Success

Alternating weeks of academic and vocational education, school autonomy, and close ties with local businesses have been key to the success of Massachusetts's  vocational-technical high schools, according to a report published today by Pioneer Institute.

Book Finds Massachusetts Voc-Tech Schools Are National Model, Calls for Expansion

Massachusetts vocational-technical schools -- boasting minuscule dropout rates, strong academic performance, and graduates prepared for careers or higher education -- should be expanded to meet growing demand, according to a new book published by Pioneer Institute.

METCO Works Well, Small Tweaks Could Make It Even Better, Study Says

The Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity, or METCO program, has successfully educated thousands of students for 56 years, but several minor changes could make it even better, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

Pioneer Institute Statement on the Latest State Audit of the Boston Public Schools

The third review of the Boston Public Schools (BPS) in fewer than 20 years makes clear: Things are getting worse.  Graduation rates are down, achievement gaps are up, an unacceptably large percentage of students attend schools ranked in the lowest 10 percent statewide. In a cruel twist, more than three in five students still are not taught material on which they are tested. There remains no clear strategy for improvement.  

Study Finds Continued Growth in Education Tax-Credit Scholarship Programs

Education tax credits grew increasingly popular in 2021, with four more states enacting programs.  There are now 28 tax-credit scholarship (TCS) programs in 23 states, and they serve more than 325,000 students, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

Study Recommends State Receivership for Boston Public Schools

After 15 years of rapid decline marked by low overall performance, yawning achievement gaps, instability, bureaucratic inertia and central office ineffectiveness in the Boston Public Schools (BPS), the Commonwealth should initiate receivership of the district, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

New Study Shows What Works for Civics Education

Americans strongly disagree about how our K-12 schools should teach our system of self-government. Dozens of organizations offer rival civics education resources and many of them don't work. A new study published jointly by Pioneer Institute and the National Association of Scholars offers in-depth evaluations of 15 leading civics programs, grades them on their effectiveness, and offers recommendations for how Americans should build upon these programs.

Study Finds Massachusetts Would Benefit from Adopting Education Savings Accounts

Massachusetts provides fewer options for students to be educated outside their assigned school districts than most other states do, and educational savings accounts (ESAs) offer an effective tool for giving students additional opportunities, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

Virtual Learning Grows During COVID

Virtual learning in K-12 education continues to grow due to the health threat caused by coronavirus variants and the assistance this learning model can provide to at-risk students, according to two papers released today by Pioneer Institute.

Pioneer Institute Files Amicus Curiae Brief in U.S. Supreme Court School Choice Case

Pioneer Institute has filed an amicus curiae brief in Carson v. Makin urging the Supreme Court of the United States to strike down a provision of Maine law. The Court will hear oral arguments in Carson this morning (December 8) at 10 am. The Maine law being challenged allows districts that don’t have their own schools to contract with a school or pay for students that choose to attend public or private schools, but explicitly excludes religious schools.

Study: After Years of Steady Increases, Homeschooling Enrollment Rose Dramatically During COVID

After steadily increasing for years, the number of parents choosing to homeschool their children skyrocketed during the pandemic, and policy makers should do more to acknowledge homeschooling as a viable option, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

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.

Study: Systemic Failure in IDEA Implementation for Private School Students with Disabilities in Additional States

On the heels of a $3.8 million settlement for private school students with disabilities in Massachusetts for the state’s failure to comply with provisions of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that require provision of equitable, publicly funded special education services to students in private schools, a Pioneer Institute study finds that two states and three school districts around the country for which data are available also appear to be out of compliance.

Key Madison Park Program Lags Other State Voc-Techs, but Shows Signs of Improvement

The co-operative education program at Boston’s Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, which places students in paid positions with local employers, lags far behind other Massachusetts vocational-technical schools in terms of both placements and number of employer contacts.  But with the school as a whole beginning to improve after years of turmoil, the co-op is also showing promising signs, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

New Book Offers Roadmap to Sustainability for Massachusetts Catholic Schools

Catholic schools in Massachusetts must focus on the characteristics that make them academically successful and distinguish them from traditional public schools, but must also seek new models and governance structures that will help them achieve financial sustainability, according to a new book published by Pioneer Institute. The book, "A Vision of Hope: Catholic Schooling in Massachusetts," will be the topic of a webinar co-sponsored by Pioneer and the Catholic Schools Foundation to be held on Wednesday, January 27 at 2:00 pm. 

New Study Provides Toolkit for Crafting Education Tax-Credit Scholarship Programs

In the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a key impediment to private school choice, Pioneer Institute has published a toolkit for designing tax-credit scholarship programs. Now available in 18 states, nearly 300,000 students nationwide use tax-credit scholarships to attend the school of their family’s choice. TCS policies create an incentive for taxpayers to contribute to nonprofit scholarship organizations that aid families with tuition and, in some states, other K–12 educational expenses. This paper explores the central design features of TCS policies—such as eligibility, the tax credit value, credit caps, and academic accountability provisions—and outlines the different approaches taken by the TCS policies in each state.

Study: Signs of Progress at Madison Park, but Still a Long Way to Go

Four years after it began to implement a turnaround plan, Boston’s Madison Park Technical Vocational High School is showing clear signs of progress, but its performance continues to lag behind that of other vocational-technical schools in Massachusetts, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.