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A Refreshing Start

The Globe’s Thursday editorial on the start of the new school year in Boston has an interesting comment from the new superintendent: Her attitude toward independent charter schools is instructive. Unions and school boards resent the competition. She doesn’t. “The monopoly is over,” says Johnson. “We have to earn the right to serve the kids next door.”

Massachusetts and the Copernican Principle

In rough terms, the Copernican Principle states that we should assume we are not special (i.e. the universe does not revolve around us). So why does Massachusetts think it’s so exceptional? Three examples: Auto Insurance — 49 other states have some form of managed competition. Why can’t we? I don’t pretend to know the ins and outs of the recently proposed reforms (start here and follow the links on the third page for the details). But how about this for a test — What do we have to do to get Geico, Progressive, and Allstate to offer car insurance in this state? Police Details — This is an old story worth repeating — 49 other states use paid flaggers on […]

Quo Vadis?

Ross Gittell in the New England Journal of Higher Education/Summer 2007 edition (“Demographic Demise”) neatly summarizes why the New England region should be concerned about future growth. The data on our inability to recruit and retain the 25-34 cohort is pretty dramatic. Overall, New England’s population grew by only eight percent—far less than the national average of 18 percent. Yes, but we get quality and energetic, bright young workers, right? Wrong. Even granting the ballooning of the baby boomer population, and therefore a seven percent decline in the 25-34 year old set nationwide, Gittell notes that “most alarming” is that the 25-34 set declined by about 25 percent in New England over the 15-year period. All NE states were in […]

As if reading my mind. . .

The Boston Globe led today with Property tax bills soar as services fall. According to the story’s author, Matt Carroll, the average annual property tax bill for a single-family home in Massachusetts has climbed 50% in just the last seven years. To make it worse, the increases are not used to expand services, but go instead toward fixed costs – pension and other post-employment benefits for retired and retiring public workers, particularly healthcare, whose costs are quickly escalating beyond the ability of cities and towns to pay for them. Is it any wonder that voters, already facing such large increases on their tax bills, are casting an increasingly jaundiced eye on Prop 2 1/2 overrides? (See my post on Dartmouth’s […]

Transforming Urban School Districts through Choice

Roe Paper No. 20 2007 Author(s): Foundation for Education Reform and Accountability — Publication date: 2007-09-01 Category: Better Government Abstract: The Foundation for Education Reform & Accountability (FERA), based in Albany, New York, has been implementing a school-choice initiative – the Albany Project – that has created high-quality charter schools to serve more than half of the local public school student population in the state’s capital city. FERA believes that a district composed of choice schools can better serve students, parents, and the community than the traditional urban school district system. The Albany Project is demonstrating that the charter school model – freedom from state regulations and education bureaucracy, freedom to innovate, and increased accountability – can better serve all […]