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So long, Mrs. Whatsit

I apologize. I have been absent from the blogosphere for over a week now. I’m back, though, and because, with the release of preliminary MCAS scores, those dreaded buzz words – standards and accountability – have been all over the press, I want to weigh in on them. Before I do, however, I would like to point out that the generally good news about the preliminary MCAS scores coincided this week with a bit of bad news – the passing of author Madeleine L’Engle, who is probably best known for her adolescent classic A Wrinkle in Time. Her death was brought to my attention by Jeff Jacoby’s column in Wednesday’s Globe. Upon learning from Jeff that Ms. L’Engle had died, […]

WaPo on School Standards

The Washington Post on September 10 had this to say as Congress begins to deliberate on the fate of No Child Left Behind: Does this country want to make schools better — or just make schools look better? If Congress is true to the noble idea that all children, no matter their races, family incomes or circumstances, can learn to read and do math, it must reject suggestions that make a charade of standards and accountability. Can’t get much clearer than that. But how about giving real relief to parents who are stuck in failing schools? I believe (emphasis on “believe”, as in I have heard from reliable sources) that the number of students in the Worcester Public Schools whose […]

It’s about the children – ugly, mean and expensive

On October 5, Pioneer is releasing a survey of state tax deduction and tax credit programs in other states that have been used to offer scholarships to inner city kids. Come one, come all. Other states have charged ahead of Massachusetts in promoting parental involvement and school choice.  New York is pushing charters, and New City is moving to create dozens of new charter schools through the Uncommon Schools effort.  Florida, Minnesota and Arizona have long advanced tax deduction and tax credit programs.  And then in February Utah passed a far-reaching voucher law. If you think proponents of the status quo and self-interest are taking this all sitting down, you are decidedly wrong. The Wall Street Journal recently reported on […]

Weekly Football Picks

What, you expected this blog to do a straight football piece? C’mon. We are picking Mystic Valley Regional Charter School to score an upset victory this week in their home opener against Hyde Park. Mystic Valley is the only charter school in the state to have a football team and they face long odds given the youth of the program. Today’s Globe reports the team has a new coach, new offense and defense, and some returning starters looking to improve on last year’s 1 – 10 season. As a side note, we are happy to hear that someone is still running the Wing-T. The September 29th match-up with fellow Wing-T holdouts, St. Mary’s of Lynn, should be a classic for […]

Pension Liability Grows Drip By Drip

We looked at the cost that pension loopholes and gaming impose on the Commonwealth. Our report concludes that at least $3b of the $13b unfunded pension liability comes from these practices. The creation of these loopholes happens on a regular basis and here’s a small example that came up in today’s legislative session — House Bill 4024, which allows six individuals to receive credit in the Cambridge Retirement System ($108m unfunded liability as of 2006) for time they spent as mid-wives at Cambridge Health Alliance. To be clear, I’m a big fan of mid-wives and I’m not sure what the Cambridge Health Alliance is (non-profit? municipal entity? other?). But the point is — the rules of the game should not […]